Thursday, May 11, 2006

Meteorology or not?

A WATN? update on former WBRE weather forecaster Dr. Steve Fertig got this response...

There's a difference between a weatherman and a Meteorologist, sort of the difference between being a doctor and playing one on TV. (But the other way around.)

Weather forecasting is one slice of the meteorology field. And in television, it doesn't really require any knowledge of meteorology. Many of the early forecasters, like NBC's Willard Scott, were chosen simply because they had an entertaining and pleasant personality. After all, even then, stations realized that weather was the reason why people watched their newscasts.

Though there are people with meteorology degrees plying their trade on local TV stations, they're still getting help from MSI, AccuWeather, or whatever weather forecasting system they bought. What, you thought Tom Clark went to the backyard to launch a weather balloon every day? And you certainly don't need a degree to be a TV weather forecaster either. But if your station GM is crazy about NWA or AMS seals, you can always take the Mississippi State correspondence course to satisfy the minimum requirements for one.

In the end, viewers don't care if they have a bonafide meteorologist, a Mississippi correspondence graduate, or someone who migrated from radio to TV. All they want is someone who will tell them if they need an umbrella today.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

BINGO! And I'd go one step further...they want to know if they need an umbrella today in 60 seconds or less.

For bigtime TV Weather Fun, count how many times you hear (most noticeable with Mr. Clark's forecast) words like, "could be", "might", "there's a chance", "maybe". How long is TV weather generally, four minutes? Stopped counting them at seventeen.

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The MSU deal is the fast and easy track to being allowed to call yourself a meteorologist. But most meteos think the program is shaky at best. You get a certificate in "Broadcast Meteorology." Yeah, great, just what in hell is that?

The NWA Seal - Very easy to get, doesn't carry much weight. A high school kid with a good grasp of an introduction to meteorology could likely get a NWA Seal.

The AWS Seal - Was once widely coveted, but then was handed out like a lollipop for a decade or better. There is hope, however; it's my understanding that AMS is redefining and rewriting rules and qualifications for even applying for the seal. Perhaps it will once again be the honorable recognition it once was. If AMS follows through on this, it would likely put the MSU program out of business. There are a lot of pretenders out there with AMS Seals who simply do not deserve them.

Most "true" meteorologists believe that holding a legit BS in meteorology is the only way one can call themselves a meteo. (To cite an example; holding a degree in, say, Earth Sciences, does not make you a meteo.) Although the science of weather, and weather itself, bores me senseless, I tend to agree.

More importantly, perhaps, is this; if any of the research I have been privileged to see over the last decade is reliable, viewers do not care about credentials, and they never have.

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The biggest difference between an actual meteorologist and a wheathercaster can be seen every day in this market. I'll take the educated guesses of Stuccio and Kuharchik any day over the clown-antics of Snedeker.

Mr. Beale does a an admirable job of comparing the 3 stations' A-block stories...I wonder if he'd do a comparison of wheater-casts...and then judge on who was more accurate ?

7:24 PM  
Blogger D.B. Echo said...

Whoo-hoo! A whole post based on my comment! UNLIMITED POWER!!!!

I believe Willard Scott made a point of never being referred to as a "meteorologist". He was a weatherman, and he didn't pretend to be anything else. (I use the past tense, but I swear I just saw him doing weather on the Today show last week. Isn't he, like, 90?)

I have a vague recollection that when Ted "Captain Outrageous" Turner was making plans to start an Atlanta-based all-news channel back in the late '70's, he intended to utilize "news readers" - people who were blatantly talking heads, with no illusions of being journalists. CNN didn't work out that way, but I think FOX "News" copied the model, and just dropped the "no illusions" bit.

Meteorologist or weatherman, I find most TV weather forecasts pretty useless, particularly when they pretend that weather can be forecast with any sort of accuracy more than a few hours into the future. (I like watching Snedeker in the morning, but I rarely get any useful information out of him. And Snedeker is an honest-to-goodness Meteorologist.)

Oh, if there's a hurricane or major snowstorm coming this way, or conditions are right for lightning or tornadoes, or if the Pineapple Express is going to be bringing warm, moist air to NEPA in the middle of February, by all means let me know. But give me a good, recent radar loop - preferably several loops, on local and state levels - and I'll know pretty much everything I need to know about today's weather.

8:52 PM  
Blogger D.B. Echo said...

Ummm...maybe I should have said "I THINK Snedeker is an honest-to-goodness Meteorologist." That Earth Sciences comment is setting off bells. I suppose I could just check his online bio.

7:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When Mark Sauers was on @ lunch time years ago we used to count how may times he would say "little bit". His big count times was during the winter seasons. Any time he reached saying "little bit" ten times by the middle of his forecast time we would be cheering him on. His record was 18 times during one forecast. Noreen has come close to it since then. Another thing was Schyulkill county. Every day, at least one car crash or fire from there. It was to be expected. We weren't so much educated by the news as entertained, and always shut the newscast off after the weather. Something I learned from my parents growing up. I don't think they ever watched a whole news program.

11:03 AM  
Blogger Tom Carten said...

I thought, when you had AccuWeather (or another one of those services), all you had to do was read off the TelePrompTer, look intelligent and have your hand hit the marks on the screen. A good intern should be able to do it.

Back in New England, I did sports a very few times (fill-in) and never knew what I was talking about; never had been to a game; could not have cared less about it. But, by darn, I was enthusiastic and could read.

Did weather that way once. Bull-----ed my way thru the whole thing. Basically told them it was gonna rain tomorrow, which the AP said it would.

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can make a great drinking game watching TV news. Take a drink whenever they say "our area" or "county" or some such dead horse. Of course you'd be bombed inside of eight minutes

7:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A good intern should be able to do it.

Maybe, but you couldn't, could you? Doing it, and doing it effectively, are two different things. For someone who should know a great deal about this business, your comment is rather disappointingly revealing.

7:14 PM  
Blogger Tom Carten said...

7:14pm poster:

Obviously, said satirically. That's why I did nearly zero tv (happier in the control room), but loads and loads of radio.

But I worked at a place where one of the time salesmen copied the weather from the fringe Chicago station, wrote it up and delivered it as his own (he tripled as the booth-on-tape). They also had a local university grad-student doing it, same deal. Both of them sold it well and used whatever resources their station had.

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like anything else, it's just a question of getting the hang of it. Some get it faster than others but in the end anyone with a desire to "be on TV" ends up there and truth be known it's about as far from brain surgery as things get.

12:40 PM  

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