• Still Waiting – The Long Battle To Find That First Broadcast Job

    Graduation seems like it was ages ago. You were pretty fired up to get that first job in broadcast meteorology a month and a half ago, but today you are starting to feel a little disheartened about the whole thing. That’s okay, but I’m here to tell you its way too early to throw in the towel.

    Hopefully you know already that there are more broadcast meteorologists out there than jobs available to fill them, so the field is pretty competitive. You might have been the best in your graduating class, but there are plenty of other schools putting out good broadcast meteorologists as well. In addition, you might be up against more seasoned mets who have been working for a year or two who are looking to make a lateral move, or bump up from part time to full time. So right from the start, you’ve got a lot of qualified people all applying for the same jobs you are. That doesn’t mean you won’t find your spot. You just need to keep working at it, and planning for the long run.

    Here are a couple of things to consider if you are still looking for that first job in broadcast meteorology:

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  • Twitterholics – How Twitter Keeps Meteorologists Broadcasting Around The Clock

    I’m in the grocery store with my family on a Saturday afternoon. My wife is asking me what I want on the frozen pizza, but I’m not listening. Instead I’m tapping out a tweet on a severe thunderstorm in the area. I know there is probably someone back at the station on it, and I’m by no means expected to be doing this off the clock, but I’m here in the frozen food isle doing it anyway. I’m hooked on Twitter.

    Twitter has become a great tool for keeping viewers (and followers) updated on weather when your typical 6 and 11pm news is not on the air. Even when the power went out on a Dallas evening newscast this week, meteorologist Larry Mowry fired up the Twitter to update what was going on, and to get the weather information out. During severe weather this spring James Spann, the most followed local met on Twitter at over 29,000 followers, became a information hub for broadcasting storm warnings, and receiving damage reports. Twitter is also just as good for getting information as it is to send it out.

    The thing that makes Twitter work is that its always on, and that can be both a good and a bad thing for busy broadcast meteorologists. I still have broadcasts that need to get ready for with viewers exponentially higher than my current list of followers (I have about 715). There are also other things I ought be be doing when I’m not at work, but still mashing away on my mobile phone. The fact that Twitter is always live makes it almost feel like its the never-ending newscast. As weather information comes in, I want to make sure it gets out there as quickly as possible.

    As I’ve talked about before, future broadcast meteorologists can grab a hold of this technology today. Anyone can start a Twitter account and begin talking about the weather. Its something I recommend to my students. It should be something that you want to do though, not something you feel obligated to. Many Twitter users will tweet like crazy in the first week, only to fry out to zero after that. This thing is a marathon, not a sprint, and if we want to us social media to keep people informed, we need to pace ourselves.

    I know there are days when I know I should just let it be. I don’t need to be on all the time. Fortunately, I work in a market with an abundance of great weather tweeters. I encourage you to check out Kerrin Jeromin, Steven Glazier, Tom Messner and Ian Oliver.

  • This reading will be lighter than your Dynamics textbook

    Feed Your Brain – Some Reading Suggestions

    Summer is the time of year I look forward to catch up on all of the projects I haven’t had the time to get to all year. Its also the best time of the year to get ahead on my reading. College students are so busy during the school year with classes, its just about impossible to read anything fun, let along for personal development. I always encourage students to pick up a book or two over the Summer, and try something they might not have considered reading otherwise.

    Not only must mets excel in science, but the broadcast meteorologists must also be very good at writing, speaking and creating ideas. There are boatloads of good books out there that can help you along these paths, and might open you up to some new ways to think about things. Here are just a handful of some of my favorites:

    Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath – The Heath brothers talk about making ideas sticky, which does a great job of helping organize your weathercasts so that viewers can take away more information.

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  • Walk to Run – Why You Need Broadcasting Classes in College to Get Better

    Confidence is a big part of learning to be a broadcast meteorologist. Ad-libbing in front of a chroma-key wall for three minutes on live television is not an easy thing to do. Taking many small steps to get yourself there, rather than one giant leap builds a lot more confidence, and increases the likelihood that you’ll continue to develop and grow. The best place to build that confidence is in broadcast classes especially geared for meteorologists.

    Just a quick search of YouTube will bring up dozens of campus TV meteorologists who were allowed to go on live television before they were ready. They crashed and burned before they even had a chance to get started. We’ve all had terrible shows we’d never want to relive, but early on its hard to have the confidence in yourself to wake up and do it again the next day.

    The best way to learn is to ‘do’, and live college television news is essential. When you are starting out though, the ‘doing’ part should be in a classroom environment with an instructor and the safety of knowing that what you do is not going to end up on YouTube. Classes help build the students confidence so that not only are they ready for live TV, they’ll be ready to bounce back when something goes wrong.

    At Lyndon State College where I teach, we are lucky enough to have a separate studio with chroma-key and a WSI weather computer, away from the busy campus television studio. New students are encouraged to make mistakes and to try things out there, gaining the confidence they’ll need for live television. Our broadcast performance classes for meteorologists are separate from the news journalists because they are entirely different skills and should be handled separately. In our first few weeks we spend time moving around the wall, and building ad-lib skills, all within the privacy of our classroom. By November, they are usually ready for their first live broadcasts. No one moves on to live campus television who is not ready to do so.

    We watch a lot of broadcasts and go over a lot of theory, but at the end of the day, its the practice in front of the wall that makes students better. Starting each student off right gives them the best chance of success at becoming a broadcast meteorologist, and I believe that each met deserves to have that opportunity.

    What does your program help do to help students succeed? Please share your stories in the comments below.

  • Have Degree, Will Travel: Being Flexible When Looking For Your First Job

    Every broadcast meteorologist has a dream job. Its a position in a market that they’ve either grown up in, or always wanted to work in. What comes as a surprise to many graduating mets is the reality that getting to that dream job can be a long journey, that usually begins with a job in a small market television station. Many mets might be reluctant to work at a tiny station, or move hundreds of miles away from home, but those that do find themselves one step closer to where they ultimately would like to be.

    Plan on starting in a bottom 100 market. Those are markets in the 100 to 200 range. You can find the whole list here. The bottom hundred is filled with smaller towns all over the country, which usually pays smaller wages, and more likely to hire mets just out of college. If you can start in the top 100, great. I’ve had several students at Lyndon who have done it, but if you set your sights too high at the start of your search, you might miss out on some opportunities.

    Be willing to travel, perhaps far from home. The more flexible you are on where you are willing to go, the more likely you’ll be to spend your summer working on-air, rather than at Home Depot and living with your parents. The sooner you get started, the quicker you’ll be moving on to your next gig, closer to that dream job.

    Be ready to stay a while. Most entry-level job opening will likely to have you sign a two year contract. They are going to spend some time training you and promoting you, so they’ll want you to hang around for them to make worth their time. Contracts are binding, and something you should take seriously, so make sure you know what you are getting into.

    After a few years working in the industry, you might find that the job you thought you wanted, isn’t where you want to be today. Life changes, and so will your goals for the future. Don’t stress out so much about where you want to be, and try and spend more time thinking about what you want to do today.

    Where is your dream job?

  • Better Broadcasts Through Teamwork

    In college and early in our professional careers, we spend so much time thinking about our own personal development that we usually neglect the growth and progress of the weather team as a group. The weather office can often be competitive with people coming in and out from other jobs, and moving up and down with staff changes based on the latest ratings book. You might discover that by working with each met’s strengths, you’ll end up being better yourself than if you had just gone in it alone.

    Your forecasts are better. We all think we know it all and that our forecast is the one that is right. In college we all forecast separately, and are graded as individuals. Sure its important that we are great forecasters on our own, but collaborating with the rest of the team will often yield a better forecast. Be sure to state your case, but its just as important to listen and be flexible as well. When its just you in the office, make sure you take the last shift’s forecast into consideration. Viewers hate dueling forecasts from the same station.

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  • The Juice is Worth the Squeeze

    It’s a tough degree to get. Entry-level jobs are hard to snag. The hours cut you off from the rest of the world, and the pay isn’t that great, especially in the first few years. I talk a lot about some of the harsh realities of broadcast meteorology, but there is one other thing I’d like people to know.

    I love my job. It’s not always easy, and it’s not always perfect, but at the end of the day I’m truly happy to do what I do. I feel like I have a great spot at a top-notch station in a perfect part of the county. I know many other broadcast mets feel the same way. They worked hard to get where they are, they are very good at what they do and in return, they have a great job that they love.

    I’ve talked to many high school students who dream of a career in broadcast meteorology, but don’t understand the work involved that it takes to get there. I’ve talked to many college students in the middle of their meteorology degrees who are ready to give up, but don’t realize how far they have come and how close they are to achieving their goal. And I’ve talked to many recent grads who are frustrated by how crowded the job market is, but don’t believe that we’ve all been there, and that things usually have a way of working out.

    It’s a battle, but it’s been worth it. Believe me, if I can do it, you probably can too. Here are a few tips for success:

    • Know what to expect – Find out what you need to do to get the results you are looking for. Whether its a hard class in college, or learning how to make a great resume tape, seek out the people who have the answers, and listen to them.
    • Don’t be too hard on yourself – You’ll hit tough times, but if this was easy, everyone would be doing it. Keep the big picture in mind and keep up with the little things every day to help get you there.
    • Be humble and flexible – Know that you don’t know. Things might seem a certain way today, but a subtle shift in what you do, or how you are thinking about something can change the way it looks tomorrow.
    Are you a broadcast met who loves their job? Please let us know in the comments below. It would be great to hear from you.
  • Weekend Warriors

    Ah summer.. some parts of the country wait all year for these few months. Its time to get out with friends and family, and enjoy concerts, weddings and parties.

    That is, unless you are working weekends. Most broadcast meteorologists starting out get stuck with working the weekend shift, and it can be a frustrating time of year if you are used to getting out and being social with the rest of the world. You’ll find that with everybody else off on Saturday and Sunday, most summer events are scheduled for those days, and getting any time off to be there can be a bit of a challenge.

    Here are a few tips for mets who need help surviving the weekends:

    • Bond with you coworkers – New reporters, photogs and producers are in the same boat you are, and probably closer in age and interests than a lot of the veterans. Get to know them outside of the office.
    • Take advantage of the weekdays – While everyone else is working, life can be a lot less crowded. Hang out with people with similar schedules and enjoy restaurants, beaches, and golf courses without the weekend rush.
    • The long lunch – Evening breaks between the 6pm and 11pm shows can be useful in popping into quick social events to keep contact with your workweek friends. You’ll want to avoid the alcohol, and its never easy going back to work in the middle of the fun, but at least you can make an appearance.
    Believe me, it doesn’t get any easier. One thing you need to know is that there are no good shifts in local television news. From weekends, you might move up to mornings, where you’ll get up at 3am (or earlier). After that, there is the prime time shift that runs evenings and nights past the 11pm news. So weekends might not be all that bad. Things are usually a little less formal around the office on Saturday and Sunday with fewer people in the building. And you still can go out and enjoy happy hour.. it just starts at midnight.