• ducttape

    How to Make Sticky Weathercasts

    There are tons of places to get weather forecasts these days. Many just require a free app and a zip code. For broadcast meteorologists it has gotten harder than ever to attract an audience and keep them coming back. It’s not only important to create interesting, accurate content; you need to make the message meaningful and memorable.

    made to stickChip and Dan Heath wrote a great book a few years back called Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Thrive. In it, they discuss the elements that make ideas and information more likely to take hold. After all, what’s the point of an accurate forecast if your viewers either tune out, or don’t remember what you said? It’s not just what we say, but how we say it that gives our content meaning. Continue reading

  • 552401_487573261264169_1089873232_n

    Get Feedback While You Can Still Do Something With It

    I welcome broadcast meteorologists starting out to send me their on-air work for feedback. I see a lot of good stuff, and plenty more that could use a little help, but that’s what we’re here for. What surprises me the most is when I get demo feedback requests. It’s usually about two or three months after graduation. A met may have left college with what they thought was a top-notch demo, only to be shocked ten weeks later when they have heard nothing back from the jobs they applied for.

    At that point, a met is pretty limited to what they can do. I’m happy to recommend some ideas for a re-edit of their existing content, but any big changes will likely never be able to get fixed. It could be something as minor as a haircut, or the way you continuously move your arm a certain way, but what you leave college with is all you have to find that first job, which is often the hardest to land.

    The whole point of getting feedback is to get better. The time to get that feedback is in your junior and senior years of college when you still have time in front of the campus chroma-key wall or TV station internship. Once you walk off that graduation stage, you’ll quickly find your resources become limited. If you find out a month later that you’re talking too fast, or that you need to buy a suit that fits, there isn’t a lot you can do about it. Had you gotten that feedback a year ago, it becomes a lot easier to make those changes or work on those skills. Continue reading

  • This is our video classroom at Lyndon. We do two semesters here of instruction and practice and two semesters of live half-hour newscasts on News 7.

    Connecting Through the Screen – Charisma Development for Broadcast Meteorologists

    As the number of sources of weather data continue to increase, from mobile apps to secondary channels, what drives people to your content? What motivates a viewer to watch one news broadcast over another? While content is key, who we are and how we present weather information can often make a big difference. It’s a broadcast meteorologist’s charisma, likability or personal character that makes us each unique, and allows us to connect to our viewers on a personal, more emotional level.

    I think one of the more interesting challenges I’ve found in teaching broadcast meteorology at Lyndon State College is how to teach charisma. I admit when I started teaching this seemed like something a student either had or didn’t. It’s not too hard to teach a met how to walk and talk on camera, and with enough practice most of them smooth out pretty well. Charisma is a bit harder to grasp. It’s not a concrete thing, and therefore much more difficult to shape for each student. I’m still figuring it out myself. In order to help new broadcast mets have the best chance for success, they need to figure out not only how to inform the viewer, but to engage them as well. Continue reading

  • nice shirt

    Yes, Appearance is a Big Thing – From College Kid to TV Pro

    Back in August, I gave a presentation at the AMS Broadcasters Conference about how to help entry-level meteorologists make the jump from college to local television. I finished the presentation about two minutes early and had time for one question from the audience. Way in the back, a student raised his hand and asked me, “But looks matter too, right?”

    Yes looks matter, perhaps more than we wish they did, but television (and a lot of online media) are visual. Viewers, as well as News Directors, judge us first on appearance before we ever get a word out of our mouths. It’s something that we need to be aware of and take into consideration as broadcast meteorologists develop in college. If you are going through college and preparing for a career in broadcast meteorology now is the time to take an honest look at your appearance and make a few changes as needed. You might find that a couple of tweaks are all you need to go from college kid to tv pro.

    It starts with awareness. College kids look like college kids because that is who they are, but just like you need to clean up your social media profiles as you prepare to enter the professional world, you need to clean up your appearance as well. You need to be able to take an honest, objective look at yourself and decide where you might need to make changes. That can be really hard for a twenty year old. Unfortunately, that is the business you are getting into and if you want to play the game, you need to learn the rules. Ask a trusted friend or adult for objective advice. Encourage them to be critical. Telling you that you are perfect to pad your feelings will not help you get to where you want to be. Here are the four big areas you should look at.

    Continue reading

  • Blender Logo

    My Summer Project – Learning Blender to Create 3D Objects for WSI’s TruVu MAX

    What is on your to-do list this summer? For me, it’s going to be learning a program called Blender. Blender is an open-source 3D modeling program, which can create elements for use in WSI’s TruVu MAX. If you’ve ever worked with MAX you’ll immediately realize the usefulness in being to create your own 3D models from scratch.

    I’ve always been an advocate for continued learning. I try to find the time to squeeze in extra reading and learning when I can, but too often there isn’t a lot of time. Summer is the exception for me. I’m not teaching between May and August, and there are usually quiet mornings for projects before I head to work in the afternoon. I’ve spent the past couple of weeks trying to come up with a summer project for this year. I’ve tossed around a few ideas, but I think I’ve come up with something that will be both useful and interesting. This summer I’m going to try to master Blender.

    Our 7 day at WCAX, made on ShowFX

    Continue reading

  • egg beater

    Can Introverted Meteorologists Become Successful Broadcasters?

    Most meteorologists start out the same way. We get hooked into weather as a kid and it never lets go. We become drawn to the power of nature and grow up watching the evening local weather forecast. We think about how great it would be if we were that broadcast meteorologist and eventually head to college in pursuit of a degree. Introverts quickly find out that the meteorology may comes easier than the broadcasting. There is a big difference between learning to be a meteorologist and learning to be a broadcast meteorologist.

    That is where things become tricky for introverted students. Introverts are characterized as being someone who reflects inward rather than outward. External stimuli such as giving speeches or attending social engagements can generate high levels of anxiety for them. The act of getting up the guts to get in front of the camera, in front of a live TV audience, can be daunting for an introvert. In the competitive college environment, its often the gregarious, boisterous extroverts who flock to campus television, muscling out the more reserved introverts for limited air time. With the right start and support, introverts have just as much potential, and can be just as effective as the ‘life of the party’ extroverts.

    Continue reading

  • we are all weird

    New Suggestions For Summer Reading

    Today was my last day of classes at Lyndon State College. It concludes my tenth semester at the school. I’ll be there on Sunday for graduation but after that, the summer is wide open. It might be early May but for me, summer starts tomorrow. I’ve still got my full-time job at WCAX, but not having to teach in the morning opens up a whole bunch of extra time. I use part of that time to catch up on some reading and I try to convince my students that there are a lot of interesting books out there that could help them with broadcast meteorology and life in general. A year ago I wrote a post on suggested summer reading so on the eve of my upcoming summer vacation, I thought I’d include a few more recommendations for other up-and-coming broadcast mets.

    Continue reading

  • colinryan2

    What I Learned About Broadcast Meteorology From A Stand-Up Comic

    People wonder how I have the guts be on live television every night. I tell them at least I’m not a stand-up comic. Compared to those guys, I think I’ve got it pretty easy. Recently I had a chance to talk to Colin Ryan, who knows all about being in front of large crowds. Not only is he a talented stand-up comic by night, but he spends his days visiting schools talking to groups of students about money management. Please check out Colin’s excellent site, A Stand Up Life to see all the great things he is doing. The more we talked, the more I realized how much our careers had in common, and I ended up learning quite a bit on how to be a better broadcaster.

    Don’t be afraid to fail. Comics have to get used to failing. It’s not that they want to, but in the pursuit of making people laugh, not every joke is a gut-buster. Most comics are constantly coming up with new material and there are so many variables in making someone laugh.  Some jokes just won’t stick, but that’s okay. Comics are used to it. As broadcast meteorologists, the daily weather forecast provides the majority of the content, but it’s up to us to make it interesting and meaningful. We need to be aware of who is watching, and how we are delivering all this information. We should always be working on something new, and not be afraid to change things up once in a while to become better at what we do.

    Continue reading

  • RickPerry

    Don’t Pull A Rick Perry – How To Avoid Brain Freeze On Live Television

    I feel your pain, Rick Perry. I’ve been there. I bet that a lot of us have been there at one point or another. I’m in the middle of a weathercast, pointing to a county, or a town, or a particular highway and the name just doesn’t come to my mind. I know the name; I’ve probably said it a hundred times under similar circumstances. For whatever reason on this particular day, the path from my brain to my mouth has been momentarily blocked. Now I don’t think I’ve ever crashed and burned as bad as Rick Perry did the other night, I can certainly sympathize and know what it feels like to be in that situation.

    You never know when something like this might creep up on you but there are things you can do before, during and after a brain freeze to make the most out of a bad situation.

    Before the freeze: The key to recovering from brain freeze is to avoid one in the first place. The best way to do that is to have a sound knowledge in the topic that you are talking about, and the confidence to discuss that topic in a high-pressure situation. If you are missing either one, you’ll likely run into trouble eventually. It’s important to have a comprehensive background in the material, which usually takes some time to develop. You’ll never get to mention everything you know, but having that deep catalog to fall back on and being able to recall it easily, can get you out of a tight spot. Remember don’t memorize; internalize. Continue reading

  • Accordion Boy

    The One Skill Future Broadcast Meteorologists Should Be Developing Right Now

    If you talk to a broadcast meteorologist, they’ll probably tell you that they were interested in weather at a very early age. It grabs us, and we’re hooked for life. In high school, we take a special interest in earth science, mathematics and computer science. What you don’t see as much is a pursuit in skills on the broadcasting side. Maybe students don’t know right away that they want to work in television, perhaps they don’t realize the opportunities they have to build those skills, or maybe its just scary.

    It was scary for me. Not only did I wait till college to get into broadcasting, I waited till senior year. By then, there just wasn’t enough time to get myself to a level of comfort that had me ready for a local television job. I went back to college and picked up a second degree in broadcasting, and even after that nerves still got the best of me for the first few months of my first broadcast meteorology job.

    I know I’m not alone. I see students all the time that battle with nerves, first in the classroom, and then on live campus television. Its something that can take a while to stamp out, and leads to a whole host of other problems. You can work on talking slower, or stop fidgeting with your hands, or trying to smile more, but it likely all stems from a lack of being comfortable and confident. It’s also a challenge to teach out of a student because it’s usually something that just takes time. Just like jumping in a pool of cold water, it just takes time to get used to, and there is not a lot else you can do to speed up the process.

    Continue reading