Station Scientists: You Are The Know-It-All

Several years ago, I was in bed on a Saturday morning when the room began to shake. It wasn’t anything major, but it was noticeable and unusual for Vermont. Five minutes later the phone rang and I was being summoned to the TV station.

It was a 5.5 earthquake, and just about everyone had felt it and was concerned. But in a pinch that morning, it was the broadcast meteorologists that had to go on live television and provide the viewers with Earthquakes 101 while the rest of the news team was out getting video of cracks in people’s driveways.

You will likely not cover plate tectonics in your core meteorology curriculum, but you’d be surprised how often you are called on to be the expert on anything remotely connected to science. I get calls to the station weekly about that big, bright light in the sky, or that latest rumbling of the ground. The internet is your friend and you can usually pull up a quick star chart or USGS earthquake map to help the caller out.

Most meteorologists have a natural cursorily for everything, so we don’t have any problem with this. But if you are just starting out, and you get that phone call from a viewer or a reporter with a random question, you might not be prepared. Keep in mind that people trust you for information. Sure it might be a mouse-click away these days, but people rely on you. Your best bet is to help them out as quickly and politely as possible, and then also provide them with the resource so that they can help themselves next time.

TV mets: What is the most unusual non-weather event you were called to be an expert on?

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