School of
July 15, 2006 4:01 PM   Subscribe

Advice for an aspiring broadcast meteorologist.

Ever since I was Richter the toddler, i've been fascinated with the weather. I idolized tv weatherfolk as a youngster. I watched The Weather Channel religiously. I have always dreamed of becoming a meteorologist, specifically of the broadcast variety. MeFites, can you give me any practical advice on what to expect in the actual field? Experiences, the pitfalls, the joys of the job? Lately, all I get is people telling me that it's too competitive of a field and I should go be a research meteorologist instead. If you have anything to share about your experiences in either or both of these fields, or have advice, please share! Thank you all in advance.
posted by richter_x to Media & Arts (10 answers total)
I do not know where you live, but I do know that THE place to go to school to study meteorology AND prepare for a broadcast career in New England is tiny Lyndon State College in Lyndonville, VT.

It's one of those "alumni mafia" things where some Lyndon State people have wound up in a few key markets, and the next thing you know, everybody coming out of that school is getting a job on the air.

I know this because a friend of mine went there to study television production years ago, and as her career took her from station to station, all the assorted weather guys were LSC graduates just like her.

I know nothing about meteorology, but it seems to me you'd want to be in a place that specializes in training people for on-air jobs like that. Good luck.
posted by briank at 4:19 PM on July 15, 2006

I should think, apropos of nothing, that "delivering the weather" a lot would be important -- just like aspiring sportscasters.

Faking up a demo tape be cool too.

These days, I think you have to be affiliated with (or certified by) AMS, or whatever their newer program is, in order to pull air shifts in a market of any size.
posted by baylink at 6:17 PM on July 15, 2006

If you want to be in TV news, you need a broad-based background. Meaning, you can't be the expert meteorologist that can't write copy, handle yourself on camera and look presentable. Most TV weatherfolk were on-camera anchors and reporters first.
posted by frogan at 7:06 PM on July 15, 2006

Just make sure you learn from this guy's mistakes.
posted by fogster at 7:51 PM on July 15, 2006

Are you in college now? What are you studying?

I just finished undergrad with a journalism degree. I've spent the last two years in our student-run TV newsroom. The kids who did weather for our newscast were meteorology majors and also had to take all of the main j-school prerequisites (which they usually hated).

So if you're still deciding where to go to school, look for a university with both a good meteorology program and a j-school with a good broadcast program.

And yeah, anchoring experience is very important for helping you not look like a doofus on-air.
posted by katieinshoes at 8:05 AM on July 16, 2006

Whatever solid educational credentials you get, you must also be mindful of being physically attractive (or at least in the US): svelte body, good hair, supermodel teeth.

As a professional who went to school and passed a licensing exam, I'm glad that I didn't have to worry about how I look in a headshot on top of all of that.
posted by Pocahontas at 8:10 AM on July 16, 2006

Hey - I'm an Executive Producer at a major market TV station. I've worked all over the place, and can help you with this. Email me if you want to start a conversation. That goes for anyone else reading this too...Good luck - its a great field...
posted by mad_little_monkey at 10:44 AM on July 16, 2006

Richter, I would also highly advise you to get some practical experience as soon as you can - work in a real TV news environment. Internships are great, but you can always get a part-time gig doing something.

It helps because it can diffuse some of the "novelty" of television, and gives you a personal glimpse of the reality of it - late nights, weekends, holidays, crappy pay, layoffs for bad ratings, etc. For every person with a great job in the industry, like mad_little_monkey, there are dozens who have crappy ones, or who have gotten out of it altogether. Plus, local TV is in a big downsizing shift. Small and mid-size markets are busy reducing staff to be as minimal and efficient as possible.

So, I would also advise you to diversify your education. Journalism classes are good, but it's always nice to have something practical to fall back on.
posted by MrZero at 11:57 AM on July 16, 2006

Response by poster: Thank you to everyone who's answered so far. I've only just started school for I have a long way to go. With regards to working in the field, I don't know that there are many good choices for that to happen around where I live. (Daytona Beach, Florida)

Most of the TV stations and radio stations are in Orlando, and school is a pay-as-you-go proposition for me. I can't give up my sysadmin job to work in the field.

Fogster: Saw that a while back on YouTube. That's just...painful to watch.

Katieinshoes: Unfortunately, my school has no real j-school courses to speak of. They offer a concentration in Broadcast Meteorology, and have a TV met as an adjunct teaching those courses, but the program is still fairly new.

Mad_little_monkey: I will send you an email with some more background info and a few questions.

MrZero: I know that it's a field that is incredibly challenging to get into. I absolutely hate working on computers, but as a safety net I do have several certs I could use to make a decent living if I can't do this. I plan on doing Psychology as a minor, as well.
posted by richter_x at 12:48 PM on July 16, 2006

Geoff Fox is one of the long-term local TV weathermen around here, and he has a personal blog. He seems like a nice guy, so it might be worth emailing him.
posted by smackfu at 9:33 AM on July 17, 2006

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