A lot has changed since I started working in 1999. We had the 6 and 11pm and the morning news, and that was pretty much it. We thought we were busy. Twelve years later, we’re adding more and more buckets to fill, and the need for content grows and grows. It started with a weather phone and a little morning radio. Then we got a website and a 24-hour weather channel on our secondary HD station. Then came social media and mobile, and people were getting their forecasts on Facebook, Twitter and their iPhones. Some stations are blogging and podcasting and doing live web chats. People still watch the local news, its just that everyone is a lot more connected than they used to be, and as a result, there is always a demand for weather information.
Today, you don’t even need to work for a local television station to broadcast weather content. There are some great sites from high school students who are very passionate about the weather going on around them. Granted, you aren’t getting paid for the work that you do, but if you have the energy and the know-how, its a great way to learn the ropes and get yourself out there. I encourage all of my students to sign up for Twitter accounts and become part of the weather dialog. Using Twitter, not only can they create great content, and pass along great content, they can also make meaningful connections with broadcast meteorologists working in the field.
If you are in high school or college and interested in broadcast meteorology, I’d have to say that this recent shift in content demand is good news for you. The mets that are working now are as busy as ever, and some stations are hiring extra help to fill any empty time shifts and provide backup for all that extra data that needs to get pushed here and there.
One word of warning, if you choose to put yourself out there, you need to be professional. Your weather Twitter feed can’t become a profanity-laced rant when your favorite teams loses. You are your reputation, and it can go both ways. Enjoy what you do and have fun with it, and be sure to follow me @WCAX_Dan.