With graduation quickly approaching, scores of so-to-be graduate broadcast meteorologists will be sending out demos for local TV jobs. Some students have been working toward this date for many months, refining their resumes and demos, hoping for the best chance of securing that first on-air job. Continue reading
Back in August, I gave a presentation at the AMS Broadcasters Conference about how to help entry-level meteorologists make the jump from college to local television. Continue reading
With graduation right coming up, hundreds of student reporters, photographers and meteorologists will be flooding local news stations with hopes of snagging an entry-level job. Landing the first job is always the scariest and most uncertain, and probably also the hardest job to get. Continue reading
[Please note, this post is a little old. For more recent salary data, check out wxsurvey.com. -Dan]
It’s a popular question among college broadcast meteorologists. How much money can I expect to make? With college costs as high as they are it’s worth seeing what kind of return on investment broadcast mets have down the road. As we’ve talked about before, it’s not the kind of job you should get into if you want to make a lot of money. However, if you are really good at it and can handle the big climb, there are jobs out there in this business that do very well. Continue reading
It’s resume tape season, so I thought it might be helpful to share some of my thoughts on what makes a great resume tape. You might talk to a dozen news directors on what makes a great tape, and get several different responses back, but I think there are some fundamentals that most can agree on. Continue reading
When you are sitting by yourself in the weather office and the weather is getting a little nasty outside, it’s good to know that there is somebody out there who has your back. The local National Weather Service office can be a valuable resource to the broadcast meteorologist, and it is essential to develop a good relationship with them. They are also pretty nice guys. Personally, I’m grateful for the work they do at the Weather Service, and I think the relationship we have helps us all make better forecasts. Here is an interview I had with Andy Nash, the Meteorologist-in-Charge at the National Weather Service office in Burlington, Vermont. (Thanks, Andy!)
Why is it important to have a good relationship between the local National Weather Service office and local stations?
The primary mission of the NWS is to protect life and property from severe weather through the issuance of timely and accurate warnings and forecasts. However, if nobody hears those warnings or understands them, then the mission is impossible to achieve. Because of this, the NWS considers the local media meteorologists as critically important partners in the mission of protecting the public, and from the NWS perspective, there is no competition. The local media meteorologist has the capability to reach far more people in a short time than the NWS can. This capability to reach the masses is critical when the weather becomes potentially deadly.
My producer is telling me I have three minutes as we come out of the commercial break. A producer is in charge of keeping the newscast on time. News anchors read a teleprompter, so scripts are written and timed before the show. Most broadcast meteorologists ad-lib through their weathercast, and need to know how much time they have left in the weather hit. If the met goes too long, the producer has to trim out news content elsewhere in the show. If the meteorologist goes too short, they need to add in more content somewhere in the show to make it time out at the end.
One of the advantages of having live, half-hour newscasts in college is that you get to practice with a real news team and a producer. You need to learn how to respond to time cues and stretch or fill the weathercast on the fly. It is one more thing that a broadcast meteorologist needs to consider during a live newscast.
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.
Summer is coming to an end. The news is slow and most of the reporters are out on vacation. Its also fair season, which is a good time for the news director to send the broadcast meteorologists out for live shots. You’re not in three feet of snow like you were eight months ago, so you are going to need something else to talk about. Live shots at state and county fairs can be fun and interesting, if you give them a chance.
I’m by no means a master at them, but I’ve done them enough over the past thirteen years to know what works. If you’ve just started a new broadcast meteorology job over the past couple of months, this might even be your first live shot (get used to them). Here are a couple of ideas to make the most of your time at the fair:
Prepare for the fair. There is a big difference between going to the fair for fun, and going to the fair for work. If you are in your work outfit, you are going to stick out and people are going to notice. That is kind of the point, but dress comfortably. A shirt and tie might be way too much for a hot sunny day. Ask your news director or other reporters what they would wear and you might be able to go a little more casual. The last thing you want to be is a hot, sweaty mess for your live shot. Believe me, I’ve been there.
Over the past few weeks, three more Lyndon State alumni have joined the ranks of employed broadcast meteorologist. Having just graduated in May of 2011, Alison Ciaramitaro, Jordan Sherman and Matt DiPirro have all been able to find their first on-air jobs. It was a great class to work with this past year, and I know all three of them are off to very bright starts.
Alison Ciaramitaro has actually been working for several weeks now. She is the weekend meteorologist and weekday reporter for KMID in Midland, Texas. Its been a record hot summer down there, but she is handling the heat and getting some experience in reporting as well.
Jordan Sherman is now working at KREX in Grand Junction, Colorado. Just like Ally, he’ll be doing weekend weather, and also doing some reporting during the week. Jordan is not the first Lyndon graduate to go through KREX. Sean Parker, class of 2007, got his start there as well.
And Matt DiPirro has just accepted a job at KSWO in Lawton, Oklahoma. He’ll be taking over weekend duties and assisting the chief during the week. The station has a lot of experience handling severe weather, and Matt is certainly up for the challenge.
Congratulations to Ally, Jordan and Matt. Just two years ago, they were starting their first broadcast meteorology classes with me. They all put in a ton of hard work to get where they are, and they each deserve this chance to work as professionals. I know this is just the start of three promising careers and I wish them the best of luck.
Some might not think of our jobs as broadcast meteorologists as being very creative. We look at model data, we make a forecast, we go out into the studio and deliver a forecast. Sometimes a surface map might mess with us, or a rain/snow line will need some interpretation, but usually its pretty straight forward. Creativity and good ideas though are like the sprinkles on the donut. They make the good things, great things and draw a viewers attention. It can be a great graphic, or an interesting statistic, or just a different way to describe the weather.
The key is that its different and its good, but those ideas take time to develop. Time is often something broadcast mets don’t have a lot of. But if you’ve ever had a great idea about your weathercast and got a big amount of postive feedback from viewers who took notice, you know that creativity is worth its time. Here are a few suggestions to keep the creativity flowing:
There is no doubt that social media has changed the way we do our jobs as broadcast meteorologists. Websites like Facebook and Twitter allow us to reach viewers outside of the 6 and 11PM broadcasts. More importantly, it allows viewers to reach us a whole lot easier, and on a much more frequent basis. That changes things up quite a bit from fifteen years ago. What was once more of a one-way broadcast is evolving into more of a two-way discussion. We have to learn how to listen and respond better, and Facebook is the best tool for that right now. As broadcast meteorologists, our time during the day in limited, and I think its a valid question about where our time is best spent. While all social media channels has its advantages and disadvantages, personally I’m feeling like I’m getting more value out of Facebook.
Facebook is for everyone. It seems like Twitter is there for people with something to say. Everyone is broadcasting on Twitter, the way a television station broadcasts the local news. But those who don’t have something to promote or push aren’t on Twitter as much, and that is likely most of your viewing audience. Some say that the leaders and trendsetters are engaging on Twitter and where they go, so will everyone else. It seems to me there are a whole lot more loyal viewers on Facebook, waiting to hear what you have to say.
Another Lyndon State College alumnus is moving up this summer. Adam Rutt is now working the weekend meteorologist shift at WMGM in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Adam is originally from eastern Pennsylvania and knows the region well. He had a summer internship at WMGM just a few years ago, and goes to show the value of a good internship.
I think this job will be a great fit for Adam. In the two years we spent together at Lyndon State, he was always a great broadcast meteorologist. Not only was he great on camera early on, but he is an excellent forecaster and a ninja with the weather graphics. He was always quick to help the weather newbies who were just getting started. I really enjoyed working with Adam and I know he is going to do well.
As a bonus, he’s going to be working with Dan Skeldon. I was able to get to know Dan while he worked at WVNY here in Burlington, Vermont. Dan is another great guy and I’m happy to see he’s found a nice spot at WMGM. I’d also like to thank him for having a few Lyndon State students intern there over the past couple of years.
Good weathercasts are all about focus. Unlike news anchors, broadcast meteorologists don’t usually read off of the tele-prompter. Instead they ad-lib, creating their script in their mind as they go, based on the forecast story they’d like to tell. Without focus, the connection between the mind and the mouth break down and you are left with nothing to fall back on except your graphics. Broadcast meteorologists who are great at what they do have a good plan before every show, and are able to confidently ad-lib everything they had prepared on live television.
Too often, distractions steal our focus. Things go wrong. We aren’t feeling ourselves or the situation just gets a little out of control. These are the times when we need to find our focus and land the plane without the landing gear. When you are able to keep your focus, you avoid turning a tough weathercast into a total disaster. Here are a couple of tips that might keep you on track:
Have a game plan. You can’t expect to get up in front of the camera and wing a good weathercast. Always have your important points outlined and have clicked through your show from start to finish before the show starts. You never know who has been messing with your graphics. Creating a plan before every show will allow you to focus better during the broadcast in the case that something unexpected happens.
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.