• That Voice Inside My Head – Learning To Love Your Producer

    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.

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  • Beating The Butterflies – Dealing With Anxiety At The Chroma-Key Wall

    Most people have a fear of speaking in public. Throw in a big green wall, a bunch of lights and some live television, and its understandable that broadcast meteorologists often deal with nerves when starting out. Its easy to come to terms quickly that this anxiety stems from an irrational fear. We aren’t going to die up there. No large animal is going to come out from the control room and eat us, but the nerves can still be hard to shake, and it is usually the biggest hurdle to get over when trying to become your best on camera. The more comfortable you are, the easier it is to be informative and personable.

    The Long Term Fix – There is no magic bullet to reducing anxiety on camera. The ultimate cure is lots and lots of work on camera over time. With each show you get under your belt, you get a little more comfortable on camera. Anything new can be scary. The less new it becomes, the less scary it will be. The reason why you go to a good broadcasting program is to get experience and work these nerves out now, before you head out into the real world. You should be starting the process in the privacy of the classroom and once you are a little more comfortable, graduate to live campus weathercasts. There are things you can do  before your show to set yourself up for success during your next weathercast.

    1. Plan your show. Prepare what you want to cover ahead of time, but instead of trying to memorize, internalize instead. The difference is that instead of learning exact sentences, you are learning the concepts those sentences are based around. The more you know, the easier it will be for those words to make the trip from your brain to your mouth, and you’ll be able to think about other things at the same time.
    2. Practice ahead of time. You should know the order of your graphics, and how you plan to bridge from graphic to graphic. Click through the order once or twice before the start of the show, so when you see those graphics on-air, you are already pretty comfortable with what you you want to say.

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  • Why Your Campus TV Club Is Not Going To Cut It

    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.

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  • Three More Lyndon State Meteorologists Moving Up

    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.

  • Look To Alumni For a Helping Hand

    Earlier this week I updated the Lyndon State Alumni section on Broadcastmet.com. With the help of Tim Lewis, co-chair of the Electronic Journalism Arts program at Lyndon State College, I was able to track down 46 broadcast meteorologists. I attached links to their local television news profiles, and their Twitter accounts where I could find them. I think its interesting to look back and see how past graduates have done and hopefully your meteorology program keeps track of alumni as well. Alumni are be a valuable resource.

    With social media, we are now connected more than ever, and a network of alumni can be a great asset for looking for job opportunities or just asking for some advice. Every  broadcast meteorologist likely had some help from someone who has come before them. I’ve found that most veteran mets are usually willing to offer some assistance to the new broadcasters coming up the pipe.

    A broadcast meteorology program with a long list of successful alumni will not guarantee you a good job after college, and knowing someone who works somewhere doesn’t always get you an ‘in’. It will always come down to whats on your resume tape, but having a strong network of alumni who are willing to point you in the right direction can be just the edge you need.

    If you are looking into going to school for broadcast meteorology, ask to see a list of where past broadcast mets have gotten jobs. Knowing that the program is producing meteorologists that are currently working in the field and doing well is a good sign. If you have a favorite local tv met, go online and check out their biography to see where they went to college. You’ll usually find that alumni are the best advocates for the programs they graduated from.

    Alumni have been there. They’ve taken the classes, eaten the dining hall food, and know what you are going through. They also graduated, got a job and moved on. Eventually you’ll be doing the same. Look to alumni when you are having a tough time and need some objective advice. Just be sure to pay it back to someone else when you are the one with the nice broadcast meteorology job.

  • 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!

  • Practice – Why You Can’t Cram to be a Broadcast Meteorologist

    Becoming an effective broadcast meteorologist is like training to run a marathon. If you rolled out of bed one day and tried to run 26.2 miles, you probably wouldn’t make it too far. Its the same way with broadcast meteorology. It takes practice. If you want to become a good broadcast met with a great resume tape, you need to be able to work at it.

    You’ll probably be pretty terrible at first, and that’s okay. What is important is that you pick the right college program to put yourself in a position to succeed. Know exactly what the broadcasting program offers meteorologists ahead of time, so that you don’t get two years into a four year program that is not going to help get you there. Don’t go to a school to learn how to swim if they don’t have a pool (I felt like Dr. Phil right there).

    Here are a few things you should look for in a good broadcast meteorology program:

    Live, daily newscasts – You should be part of a news team that does live broadcasts everyday. You’ll want to have anchors to chat with, and photojournalists to take you outside when the weather gets bad. It has to be every day because you want to get in as many shows as possible, and you’ll likely have to spread it out among the other mets. And you’ll want the shows to be live because there is a big psychological difference between live and taped TV. You don’t want to have to work through those nerves at your first real job.

    Broadcast classes for meteorologists – Colleges offer classes for public speaking, and classes for journalism, but what mets really need is a performance class with other mets. Classes ought to be taught by someone who has some previous broadcast weather experience, and gives you the opportunity to get in front of the chroma-key wall every week. In the classroom environment, you get to make those early mistakes away from live television with a instructor who can help you get better.

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  • Walk to Run – Why You Need Broadcasting Classes in College to Get Better

    Confidence is a big part of learning to be a broadcast meteorologist. Ad-libbing in front of a chroma-key wall for three minutes on live television is not an easy thing to do. Taking many small steps to get yourself there, rather than one giant leap builds a lot more confidence, and increases the likelihood that you’ll continue to develop and grow. The best place to build that confidence is in broadcast classes especially geared for meteorologists.

    Just a quick search of YouTube will bring up dozens of campus TV meteorologists who were allowed to go on live television before they were ready. They crashed and burned before they even had a chance to get started. We’ve all had terrible shows we’d never want to relive, but early on its hard to have the confidence in yourself to wake up and do it again the next day.

    The best way to learn is to ‘do’, and live college television news is essential. When you are starting out though, the ‘doing’ part should be in a classroom environment with an instructor and the safety of knowing that what you do is not going to end up on YouTube. Classes help build the students confidence so that not only are they ready for live TV, they’ll be ready to bounce back when something goes wrong.

    At Lyndon State College where I teach, we are lucky enough to have a separate studio with chroma-key and a WSI weather computer, away from the busy campus television studio. New students are encouraged to make mistakes and to try things out there, gaining the confidence they’ll need for live television. Our broadcast performance classes for meteorologists are separate from the news journalists because they are entirely different skills and should be handled separately. In our first few weeks we spend time moving around the wall, and building ad-lib skills, all within the privacy of our classroom. By November, they are usually ready for their first live broadcasts. No one moves on to live campus television who is not ready to do so.

    We watch a lot of broadcasts and go over a lot of theory, but at the end of the day, its the practice in front of the wall that makes students better. Starting each student off right gives them the best chance of success at becoming a broadcast meteorologist, and I believe that each met deserves to have that opportunity.

    What does your program help do to help students succeed? Please share your stories in the comments below.