Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Why Do I Like The Most About Television Meteorology?
When people ask me what I like the best about my job as a television meteorologist, I explain that its the perfect right brained-left brained activity. Its like solving equations while painting a picture. Most seem surprised at my answer and reply "It must be super-cool to work on TV everyday". Here is my reply.
While it is fun each morning working on the number one morning show in Cleveland, it requires alot of work that unfortunately most people don't see. The left brained element of my job--analyzing the meteorology-- while challenging, isn't the hardest part. Telling the story in a concise manner--the right brained element--was and still is the challenge. Let me explain both in detail:
First thing I do in the morning is analyze the latest computer model forecast data from different layers of the atmosphere. My browser lights up with about 23 individual tabs with each housing a separate set of data either in text or graphical form. Some animate, some are static. Before leaving for work, I have a good mental picture of the weather setup for the day. I eliminate any computer model that has a bias to the specific weather situation. Some models handle certain weather patterns differently than others. Once I get to work, I make final adjustments to the overall forecast using the final National Weather Service discussion and other summaries. There might be a forecast element you missed so its essential to not discount the NWS. This completes the left brained side of my job. The science is done.
As I drive to work each day, the right-brained part begins. I literally envision the weather forecast in a storyboard. This helps tremendously in "writing" the story which I will convey to the viewer. Once I get to the station, I take this storyboard and begin to select the graphical elements that best illustrate my mental picture. Our weather system has 3D animations, static pictures, computer simulations of weather data and many forecast elements that are "pulled out" of other graphics through "hot spots" embedded in the graphic triggered by my hand live on the air! (The trick is remembering is where you embedded all that stuff!) All of these aid in creating a strong slide show that is both visual, informative and most of all relevant to the weather of the day. Remember that we don't read a teleprompter. We present the weather forecast and all of its elements extemporaneously. A good way to remember it is the right brained part is made up of three separate elements: Visualization, illustration and presentation. All of these elements are dependent on the other. All are necessary to TELL THE STORY! By the way, none of this counts the separate elements that I create for social networking sites (Facebook, twitter) and other blog posts.
During the show, I often research topics to write about while juggling weather segments from both inside the studio and outside in the FOX8 front yard. All the while, listening to the show for changes and the well placed time cues from the producer in my earpiece. Its like carrying on a conversation while listening to music counting the beat in each measure! Its an exercise in multitasking.
So you see that television isn't at all about being famous. Its not about being glamorous. There is this perception that being in front of a camera on a television news program would be the closest thing to being a movie star. In this era of reality television where seemingly everyday people attain fame and fortune I can see why. The idea of having your "15 minutes of fame" can be very alluring to some. The attention you receive for working on a television show can be very intoxicating to the poorly initiated and inexperienced often blinding you of what really matters. That is "TELLING THE STORY". The main focus of any television reporter, anchor or meteorologist should be telling the story to your best ability, for the benefit of the viewer and to continue to tell the story better each time using all of the tools available! That's more rewarding than being in front of a camera. Unfortunately for many, this often times takes a back seat to the feeling of being in the limelight.
For me, its always been about having a job that stimulates my left brain and right brain. Its about pushing yourself to improve. Its about honing your craft of telling the story....while have some fun in the process.