• The Only Way Out Is Through – Getting Out Of A Broadcast Rut

    We all strive to improve, no matter how long we’ve been broadcast meteorologists. There is always something we can improve on and maybe do better. When you are starting out, that list of things to work on can feel pretty long, and there will often be times when you don’t feel like this is normal. We all get stuck in ruts, and usually the only way out is through.

    Maybe you are stuck on a crutch word, or talking a little too fast. Maybe you get hung up on saying the same things show after show, or completely blanking out when it comes time to chat with the anchors. Ruts seem to drag you down, and take the rest of the show with it. Here are a couple of ideas to help you survive your next rut, and break on through (to the other side).

    Recognize you are in a rut. Often ruts can go on for weeks without you even knowing. Watch your shows, and be aware of what you are doing. Try to pick up on things you could do better, but also give yourself some credit with how far you’ve come so far.

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  • From Imitation to Creation – Being Your Best on Camera

    Stephen King wrote in his memoir that when he was learning to write stories as a kid, imitation preceded creation. He would often take stories and characters he was familiar with and work them into works of his own. He was still in grade school at the time, but his mother would encourage him to create stories and characters of his own. As he developed his skill, he began drawing on his own experiences and his world to create his best selling works today.

    I often see similar development patterns in early broadcast meteorologists. They come into class, having grown up with watching a certain meteorologist for years and years, and broadcasting in a style that is not truly them. They might be really technical, or really goofy, or get hung up on certain words or phases. I’ll ask a student where they are from, and who they grew up watching, and you can see someone else’s on-air presence being mimicked by the student. It’s true that imitation often precedes creation when you are starting out. That is fine, but I push students to discover their own broadcast style.

    We usually need the courage of seeing someone else do it before us. It’s usually what inspires us to get up and do it in the first place. A broadcast meteorologist will eventually find more success in what they do when they figure out who they are as broadcasters. When they start listening to that voice, they become much more authentic and effective as broadcasters. Stephen King would have never become the writer he is today if he had continued to write stories based on what was already out there. Instead, he was challenged to write from within, and he eventually found his own voice.

    We’ll still have a fondness for broadcast mets we grew up with, and who are still great at what they do. We can learn a lot by watching them and picking up on what they do well. The best broadcast meteorologist you can be is the one who is closest to who you are in real life. That is the person viewers are going to want to get their forecast from.

  • Coming This Week – Improvements to Alumni and Meteorology School Features

    Broadcastmet.com has been up for about a month now, but there is still a bunch of features I”ve been meaning to add or improve on. I’m hoping to get a chance to get to a few of those this week. Here is what is on the to do list:

    Expanded Lyndon State Alumni page – If you watch the weather on television, chances are you know a broadcast meteorologist who graduated from Lyndon State College. There are about three years of alumni on the site already, but our database goes back to the late 1970s. I’d like to get that information on the site this week, with links to station profiles and Twitter accounts where I can find them. If you are a Lyndon State broadcast met alumni and want to be sure you are included, please shoot me an email at broadcastmet@gmail.com.

    Expanded Broadcast Meteorology Schools page – There are a lot of great meteorology schools out there, and a lot of great broadcasting programs out there. I’m in search of colleges and universities that are excellent at both. I have a list of schools on the page already, but the list is incomplete and missing a ton of links. I’m going to clean that up this week and provide better links directly to the programs, where I can find them. If you go to a school with a great meteorology program, I’d like to hear about it. Please send me an email to broadcastmet@gmail.com with any links that might point me in the right direction.

    I’ve got other ideas for features that I’d like to launch before the end of the summer, but this will keep me busy for a few days. If you have an idea for something that would improve the site or an idea for a blog post, I’d be happy to hear from you. You can reach me at broadcastmet@gmail.com. Thanks for checking out the site, and have a great week!

  • On Vacation – How Getting Away From Work Makes You A Better Employee

    Next week, I’m on vacation from my station. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a full week off from work, but my guess is probably around ten or eleven months. I love my job, and I’m not exactly planning anything too exciting with my family next week, but I’m looking forward to the break.

    When you are starting out in broadcast meteorology, it might be hard to get in that first week’s vacation. Not only are you limited to time off in your first year or two, chances are that you are spending your summer filling in for everyone else (thanks, Ian). It can be a little stressful, especially around the summer holidays when it seems like the rest of the world is headed to the family gathering or vacation destination, and you are stuck cooking in the weather office. I’ve been there.

    But everyone deserves a break, and I think that by the time you come back, you’re actually a better employee by having that time. Here are a couple of reasons why:

    Time off refuels your creativity. The best way to figure out a problem at work is to give it a little space. Sometimes by not thinking about it, and spending some time doing something else, the answer will come. Coming back from a week off will give you a fresh perceptive on your weather office to-do list. Believe me, it will still be there when you get back.

    You give yourself time for different projects. Even if you are going somewhere on vacation, new experiences will change the way you think about things, and work will always feel a little different when you return. If you don’t plan on going very far in your week away, there are likely all sorts of little projects, books and blogs you’ve been meaning to get to. You finally have the time for that, and having those opportunities will open you up to discover new things.

    You’ll be happy to get back. This might be debatable, but I’ll argue that by the end of the vacation, you’ll be ready to get back to work. We do what we do because we love it, and there is a lot of sacrifice that goes in to it. A little time away might give you a better appreciation of the work you do when you get back to work on Monday.

    Time away will give you more ideas, more focus, and a better outlook when you return. My plan is to stay off the work email, Facebook and Twitter next week. I might check it once or twice so it doesn’t take me an entire day to clean out the inbox when I get back. I’d still like to update the blog, but I’ll see what I get inspired to do. I hope everyone gets a chance this summer to get a little free time. If we run with our heads down for too long, we might look up and wonder where we are.

  • Still Waiting – The Long Battle To Find That First Broadcast Job

    Graduation seems like it was ages ago. You were pretty fired up to get that first job in broadcast meteorology a month and a half ago, but today you are starting to feel a little disheartened about the whole thing. That’s okay, but I’m here to tell you its way too early to throw in the towel.

    Hopefully you know already that there are more broadcast meteorologists out there than jobs available to fill them, so the field is pretty competitive. You might have been the best in your graduating class, but there are plenty of other schools putting out good broadcast meteorologists as well. In addition, you might be up against more seasoned mets who have been working for a year or two who are looking to make a lateral move, or bump up from part time to full time. So right from the start, you’ve got a lot of qualified people all applying for the same jobs you are. That doesn’t mean you won’t find your spot. You just need to keep working at it, and planning for the long run.

    Here are a couple of things to consider if you are still looking for that first job in broadcast meteorology:

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  • Twitterholics – How Twitter Keeps Meteorologists Broadcasting Around The Clock

    I’m in the grocery store with my family on a Saturday afternoon. My wife is asking me what I want on the frozen pizza, but I’m not listening. Instead I’m tapping out a tweet on a severe thunderstorm in the area. I know there is probably someone back at the station on it, and I’m by no means expected to be doing this off the clock, but I’m here in the frozen food isle doing it anyway. I’m hooked on Twitter.

    Twitter has become a great tool for keeping viewers (and followers) updated on weather when your typical 6 and 11pm news is not on the air. Even when the power went out on a Dallas evening newscast this week, meteorologist Larry Mowry fired up the Twitter to update what was going on, and to get the weather information out. During severe weather this spring James Spann, the most followed local met on Twitter at over 29,000 followers, became a information hub for broadcasting storm warnings, and receiving damage reports. Twitter is also just as good for getting information as it is to send it out.

    The thing that makes Twitter work is that its always on, and that can be both a good and a bad thing for busy broadcast meteorologists. I still have broadcasts that need to get ready for with viewers exponentially higher than my current list of followers (I have about 715). There are also other things I ought be be doing when I’m not at work, but still mashing away on my mobile phone. The fact that Twitter is always live makes it almost feel like its the never-ending newscast. As weather information comes in, I want to make sure it gets out there as quickly as possible.

    As I’ve talked about before, future broadcast meteorologists can grab a hold of this technology today. Anyone can start a Twitter account and begin talking about the weather. Its something I recommend to my students. It should be something that you want to do though, not something you feel obligated to. Many Twitter users will tweet like crazy in the first week, only to fry out to zero after that. This thing is a marathon, not a sprint, and if we want to us social media to keep people informed, we need to pace ourselves.

    I know there are days when I know I should just let it be. I don’t need to be on all the time. Fortunately, I work in a market with an abundance of great weather tweeters. I encourage you to check out Kerrin Jeromin, Steven Glazier, Tom Messner and Ian Oliver.