College campuses are busy again and like every Autumn, the campus television stations are getting ready for another semester. If you are a student meteorologist interested in a career in broadcasting, these campus stations are your best bet to get the practice you need to be good enough to land that first job. Some campus stations are run by college broadcasting or journalism department and can give students a real taste of live television news. Other campus stations are student led free-for-alls that lack any kind of structure or leadership. These are in the majority. While TV clubs are a lot of fun, usually they are not going to help you get as good as you need before you graduate.
If you are serious about your future in broadcast meteorology, you need to take a hard look at what kind of experience you are planning to get this semester. Here are a few important things to consider and look for:
Live daily newscasts are better than taped weather cut-ins. Does your campus television station offer live daily newscasts? Many campus stations tape their newscasts or only offer cut-ins for weather. It’s important to be part of a full newscast to learn anchor chat and the ability to work with others. If you are only getting a minute or two per weathercast, you are missing out on a full news show experience. Some campus stations only air newscasts once or twice a week. If its not a daily newscast, and you are not the only broadcast meteorologist in the program, there is no way you’ll get enough shows to get to where you want with your skill.
Campus TV clubs usually don’t sport the gear you need. You are going to want a chroma-key wall, a news set and some good lighting. Chances are your résumé tape material will come from the shows you do on your college television station. If the set or lighting looks like it came from the high school A/V club, then you are probably not helping your chances. You also need a weather computer that provides live satellite and radar data, and the ability to draw your own surface maps. Anything less and you might as well be doing the weather from your bedroom webcam. Not only are theses computers great to have for your shows, but they also give your résumé a huge boost if you know how to use them. Find a college that is serious about putting out high-quality newscasts.
Many colleges don’t offer the classes and coaching to help you get better. You could have all the weathercasts in the world, but if someone isn’t telling you what you are doing wrong or how you to get better, you aren’t going to get very far. You should be part of a program that just doesn’t throw you up in front of a camera, hoping you don’t create another YouTube viral clip. Broadcasting classes should prepare you for live television. Broadcasting classes specifically for meteorologists are even better. I teach one every semester at Lyndon State College.
If you are a natural on camera, then don’t worry about it. You’ll be fine. I’ve seen lots of mets make it through. Just make sure you can go somewhere to make a great resume tape. The majority of us through need a little polish before we’re let loose on the world. The one thing I hate more than anything is to see good broadcast meteorologists come up short because they went to a college with a poor broadcasting program. You’ll graduate, and be eager to get started in that first local television job, and you just won’t have the skills or the résumé tape to get in the door. If you are serious about broadcast meteorology, make sure you pick a college that can help you with both. I should mention that we offer all these things at Lyndon State College. If you want to learn more about the program, please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.