It starts off simple enough. You are in the food court on your lunch break in a shirt and tie, waiting for you taco order to come up. Someone notices you as the local weatherguy and starts a conversation. Its kind of cool. Maybe you are out at a bar on Friday night and someone buys you a round because they think you do a great job. Nice. A week later you’ve got a guy yelling at you in the frozen food aisle at the grocery store because it rained on his daughter’s wedding, and its all your fault. Welcome to the world of broadcast meteorology. You are a local celebrity.
Being recognized in public is a blessing and a curse, and all comes with the territory. You have to be aware that you are always in the public eye. Even in the privacy of your own home, you still have to behave. You can’t wake up in a tub with a dead guy and expect to go to work the next day. Things like that are not going to fly, even if you have a perfectly good explanation. Your image reflects on your station’s image, and its very important to them that you are setting a good example. It’s all part of the game you’ll need to learn if you want to have any success in broadcasting.
So if you are just starting out, here are a few ideas to help you survive being a local celebrity for the first time.
Always do your best to be kind and courteous. You are on all the time. That’s all there is to it. If it’s not something you can handle then you should consider the National Weather Service. If someone recognizes you in public and approaches you to say hi, you have an opportunity to make a positive impression. They are going to tell people they saw you today, and can either say nice things, or not-so-nice things. The two minutes they spend with you will form how they think of you for every night they watch you on TV for years to come. A word of caution: I’m six-foot, seven inches tall and usually feel pretty safe around most people. The truth is you never know who you are really talking to, and the most important thing is to be safe.
Most people don’t know or don’t care who you are. No matter how awesome you think you are, the reality is that most people don’t recognize you. Even if you are on the number one newscast in the market, most people either don’t know who you are or don’t care that you are on television. You are just like everyone else, except that you’re not like everyone else, if that makes sense. No one owes you anything just because of what you do for work.
People love to talk about the weather. Roll with it. People are going to blame you for the four straight days of rain, usually in a lighthearted way. They’ll also give you a big thumbs up when that perfect weekend comes around. Its silly, but that’s how it is. People love to talk about the weather, and you are the perfect person to reflect that on. You might be in the middle of a week-long vacation where you haven’t checked the forecast in days. People are still going to ask you about next Saturday. You just need to accept that it’s the role you chose, and you’ll always be the broadcast meteorologist.
People are usually pretty nice in public. The ones that hate you won’t usually come up to you, which is good. I try to treat everyone like a neighbor on my street, because I feel that is how they see me. You can be polite and still protect yourself and your privacy. When in doubt, I just go with the fake mustache (okay not really). Without viewers, you’d just be talking to yourself anyway, and that would be weird.