It’s no secret that the starting salary for a broadcast meteorologist is pretty low. There are a lot of eager, young candidates out there, all looking for a handful of jobs across small-market America. Continue reading
Tim Studebaker has my dream job. He is a weather producer in Boston. Tim graduated from Lyndon State College in 2010 and has worked the morning weather producer spot at WHDH for the past two years. Not many stations have a weather producer, but the lucky ones that do get to work with a front row seat to the biggest local stations in the country. I had the chance to talk to Tim about what it’s like to be a weather producer and what his job is like as a master of weather graphics.
How did you end up as a weather producer in Boston?
After graduation, I continued my ongoing job search. I maintained a membership with a job listing website specific to the broadcasting job market. Like others from my graduating class, I was looking for an on-camera meteorologist position. However, a few months after graduation, I spotted a Weather Producer job in Boston. I hadn’t really thought of the idea of producing before this. Seeing as I am from the Boston area, and was living here again after college, I decided to apply. It seemed like a great opportunity to stay local and work on my broadcasting skills off-camera.
What is your day like? What kinds of things do you do? Continue reading
People wonder how I have the guts be on live television every night. I tell them at least I’m not a stand-up comic. Compared to those guys, I think I’ve got it pretty easy. Recently I had a chance to talk to Colin Ryan, who knows all about being in front of large crowds. Not only is he a talented stand-up comic by night, but he spends his days visiting schools talking to groups of students about money management. Please check out Colin’s excellent site, A Stand Up Life to see all the great things he is doing. The more we talked, the more I realized how much our careers had in common, and I ended up learning quite a bit on how to be a better broadcaster.
Don’t be afraid to fail. Comics have to get used to failing. It’s not that they want to, but in the pursuit of making people laugh, not every joke is a gut-buster. Most comics are constantly coming up with new material and there are so many variables in making someone laugh. Some jokes just won’t stick, but that’s okay. Comics are used to it. As broadcast meteorologists, the daily weather forecast provides the majority of the content, but it’s up to us to make it interesting and meaningful. We need to be aware of who is watching, and how we are delivering all this information. We should always be working on something new, and not be afraid to change things up once in a while to become better at what we do.
It’s pretty hard getting a job in broadcast meteorology. Between all the classes and training, the résumé tapes and networking that goes into getting that first job, it can be a pretty daunting task. Continue reading
If you talk to a broadcast meteorologist, they’ll probably tell you that they were interested in weather at a very early age. It grabs us, and we’re hooked for life. In high school, we take a special interest in earth science, mathematics and computer science. What you don’t see as much is a pursuit in skills on the broadcasting side. Maybe students don’t know right away that they want to work in television, perhaps they don’t realize the opportunities they have to build those skills, or maybe its just scary.
It was scary for me. Not only did I wait till college to get into broadcasting, I waited till senior year. By then, there just wasn’t enough time to get myself to a level of comfort that had me ready for a local television job. I went back to college and picked up a second degree in broadcasting, and even after that nerves still got the best of me for the first few months of my first broadcast meteorology job.
I know I’m not alone. I see students all the time that battle with nerves, first in the classroom, and then on live campus television. Its something that can take a while to stamp out, and leads to a whole host of other problems. You can work on talking slower, or stop fidgeting with your hands, or trying to smile more, but it likely all stems from a lack of being comfortable and confident. It’s also a challenge to teach out of a student because it’s usually something that just takes time. Just like jumping in a pool of cold water, it just takes time to get used to, and there is not a lot else you can do to speed up the process.
Lots of people were tuned in to the Apple announcement event Tuesday afternoon waiting for the company to unveil its latest phone. We learned about the iPhone 4S, and all the upgraded technology behind it, but what struck me as the most interesting thing to come out of the presentation was the arrival of Siri. Siri is Apple’s new iPhone assistant that will come with the new iOS5 software which will be released on Wednesday, October 12.
It does lots of cool stuff. You can use your voice to ask it for directions to a Chinese restaurant. You can ask it for movie times or to send you a reminder to call your wife. It can also give you the weather. Wait, what? That’s my job. During the Apple presentation, the slide displays weather related questions like “What is the upcoming forecast?” or “Do I need an umbrella today?” or even “Is the weather going to get worse today?” These are all questions my wife asks me on the way out the door in the morning, and now Siri says it has all the answers.
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.