Becoming an effective broadcast meteorologist is like training to run a marathon. If you rolled out of bed one day and tried to run 26.2 miles, you probably wouldn’t make it too far. Its the same way with broadcast meteorology. It takes practice. If you want to become a good broadcast met with a great resume tape, you need to be able to work at it.
You’ll probably be pretty terrible at first, and that’s okay. What is important is that you pick the right college program to put yourself in a position to succeed. Know exactly what the broadcasting program offers meteorologists ahead of time, so that you don’t get two years into a four year program that is not going to help get you there. Don’t go to a school to learn how to swim if they don’t have a pool (I felt like Dr. Phil right there).
Here are a few things you should look for in a good broadcast meteorology program:
Live, daily newscasts – You should be part of a news team that does live broadcasts everyday. You’ll want to have anchors to chat with, and photojournalists to take you outside when the weather gets bad. It has to be every day because you want to get in as many shows as possible, and you’ll likely have to spread it out among the other mets. And you’ll want the shows to be live because there is a big psychological difference between live and taped TV. You don’t want to have to work through those nerves at your first real job.
Broadcast classes for meteorologists – Colleges offer classes for public speaking, and classes for journalism, but what mets really need is a performance class with other mets. Classes ought to be taught by someone who has some previous broadcast weather experience, and gives you the opportunity to get in front of the chroma-key wall every week. In the classroom environment, you get to make those early mistakes away from live television with a instructor who can help you get better.
A professional weather graphics computer – Its not just what you learn in front of the camera; there is a great deal to learn behind the camera as well. Many schools have WSI weather computers for broadcast meteorologist to learn and create graphics on. Not only do these computers provide students with valuable job skills, but the graphics they build for their weathercasts make them look that much more professional as well.
When you have these things in place, you give yourself the opportunity to get practice. Practice helps you get better. Without these things, you limit your ability to be the best you can be.
At Lyndon State College, we have all these things, and I feel like our students do very well. I know we are not the only school out there, and I’m very interested in what the best broadcast meteorology programs are doing to give mets the practice they need. What makes your program great?