• Mastering The Early Morning Routine: Gary Sadowsky

    There are no good shifts in local television news but among the worst, I’d say that the morning shift has to be the hardest. I’ve only had to fill-in for a week of mornings here and there, and I can tell you that by Thursday and Friday, my brain is pretty much mush. Its a change in lifestyle, and it can be a big adjustment for any broadcast meteorologist making that transition. I spoke with WCAX morning meteorologist Gary Sadowsky to shed some light on waking up well before dawn, and give us a perspective on the early morning routine.

    What’s your daily routine like?

    Alarm goes off at 2 AM.  Earlier in the winter.  Eat breakfast while zipping through recording of 11 PM news from the night before to get an idea of what the weather/news has in store for the morning broadcast.  Minimizes any surprises. Get to work by 4 AM (should be earlier, but I’ve got the routine down so I can do it in my sleep).  Look at all the model data, NWS forecast/discussion, do forecast, make the pertinent graphics, quick make-up session, and on the air at 5 AM sharp. 4 half-hour shows in a row (morning viewers are fluid – different people watch at different times, usually for about 10 minutes while they get ready for work/school).  5 weather “hits” per ½-hour show, so you never go too long without giving a forecast.

    During those shows, I constantly run back to the weather center to check for updated conditions/watches/warnings, etc. and change the necessary graphics. Also check e-mail, phone messages and Facebook for viewer reports/comments and use pertinent information from viewers on the air. At 7 AM, network takes over bulk of broadcasting. We do 4-minute cut-ins at 7:25, 7:55, 8:25 and 8:55. During the off-air times between 7-9 AM, I update our website forecast, record the weather phone, Tweet, and Facebook. 9 AM – break time!  I live 20 minutes away, so I go home and take a nap.

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  • Why You Can Be Your Best (and Worst) Critic

    Its tough when you are starting out as a broadcast meteorologist. You are trying to apply all your weather knowledge into a three minute presentation, trying to form complete thoughts off the top of your head, and pointing to virtual elements in front of a green wall. Its takes a little time to get ‘good’, and it can take a lot of time to be ‘great’. It’s all relative too, which is a hard concept for a meteorologist. There is no qualitative way to measure your effectiveness as a broadcast meteorologist, so it hard to know when you are making progress, and when you are just spinning your broadcast wheels.

    So your inner critic gets to work, often in the middle of a show. He can be pretty negative sometimes and throw you off your game. Even worse, that inner critic can sometimes convince you that you’ll never get better, and you are not cut out for this. You need to be aware of what your telling yourself, and you can’t let that stop you from working on your skills every week. In time, that voice can be your friend. Here are a few tips to make the most of your inner critic:

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  • You Can’t Please Every Viewer, But You Still Need To Try

    The weather has been pretty nice here in Vermont lately. Summers are short and we need to soak in all the sun we can before winter returns all too soon. Quiet weather generally means accurate forecasts, which usually means happy viewers, but its not always the case. I got an email from a viewer yesterday who was furious I was standing in the middle of the screen. He said a lot of mean things, but I wrote him back anyway. I hadn’t realized I was hogging the chroma-key, but apparently it was very clear to him.

    These things will happen. They happen to everyone no matter how long you’ve been doing this or how good you think you might be. There are always things we can do better, but sometimes you just need to realize that there are people who are just having a bad day. Here are a couple of suggestions for your first few nasty-grams.

    You take the bad weather with the good – You might get undeserved blame when the weather is bad, but you’ll also get a lot of undeserved credit when the weather is good. Just roll with it. Viewers are usually just giving you a little hard time. Its not a big deal.

    Almost all viewers are great – In my experience 99.9% of all viewers I meet in public are nothing but kind and respectful. I try to give them that same courtesy in return, regardless of where I am or who I’m with. It comes with the territory. Where you’ll usually get complaints is through email, which are easier to consider a tactful response, and send out a prompt reply.

    Angry viewers are usually just frustrated – When viewers get upset over the phone or an email, its usually because they’ve got some financial or personal stake in the weather. People make plans around the weather, and when the weather doesn’t go the way it was supposed to, people loose time and money. Listen to them and be polite, even if you don’t feel like you are getting the same in return. I’ve found that you can settle down most people and reason with them, but others will refuse to come around. If you get to a point where you are just getting berated, just thank them for the feedback and move on. Always remember that its not personal.

    Viewers are just neighbors whose names you don’t know. They see you every night and listen to what you say. When when they get the chance to meet you in public, you both should walk away with a positive experience. Without viewers, we’d just be talking to ourselves, and that would be kind of weird.

    Have you ever had any crazy encounters with your viewers?

  • A Perfect Day For a Campus Visit

    One of the best parts of my job is getting to meet new students. We had a group of sixteen high school seniors visit Lyndon State College today, interested in atmospheric science as a major. They couldn’t have had a nicer day. Dr. Nolan Atkins from the Atmospheric Science department gave the students a tour of the meteorology facilities, which concluded with the launch of a weather balloon on the observation deck. After that, I brought the group over to News7 for a tour of our campus studio and a crash course in broadcast meteorology.

    They were a great group and I’m glad I had the chance to be on campus and meet them today. I’m not sure how many of them were interested in the Broadcast Meteorology track, but we also offer National Weather Service, Private Sector, and Graduate School tracks. It might be fair to say that most students don’t exactly what they want to do early on, so selecting a school with some flexibility is important.

    Picking a college is one of the most important decisions someone makes, so it was nice to talk with them and let them see what Lyndon has to offer. There are a lot of other factors that go into picking the right college too. Students need to weigh the cost, location, and the surrounding area in order to make sure they have the right school for them.

    On the observation deck at Lyndon State College

    When I was looking for a college, it was all about fit. It’s a feeling you get when being on the campus just seems right. It’s a feeling that tells you that this is where you would like to be. There is a lot of other criteria that also plays into the big decision, but usually the ‘fit’ and the facts coincide pretty well.

    Our next open house for prospective students is July 29.