Every time I speak to groups, I get asked some of the same questions. I’m always surprised by how many misconceptions there are about television weather jobs. Here’s my attempt to clear up some of the confusion:
- Someone else does the forecast for me and makes all my weather maps.
There are no magic elves who show up at the station to put together the day’s forecast. I’m on my own for what you see me forecast on TV. I took three years of college meteorology courses to prepare me for this. Sometimes I get it wrong. But if I do, there’s no one to blame but me.
Although we have talented artists who make our background maps, spectacular graphics and snazzy fonts, on a day-to-day basis, I’m the one who draws the fronts on my maps and puts them in the order I need to tell my story. Again, there are no magic elves who make the maps for me each morning.
- Someone else chooses and pays for my clothes.
We have trained image consultants who visit the TV station on occasion to coach us regarding clothes, style, hair and makeup. They share ideas and helpful hints about what looks good and what does not. But if you see a dress you don’t like, blame me. I chose it. I paid for it. And I just might be regretting wearing it as much as you are regretting seeing it. Sometimes an outfit that looks great in person doesn’t translate well on TV. Unfortunately, we learn that the hard way, and hopefully learn from our mistakes.
- Someone does my hair and makeup every day.
Nope. Again, we have amazing makeup artists who train us and give us tips on occasion. But each morning, I do my own hair and makeup. In bigger cities (or on the Today Show) they have hair and makeup teams, but TV stations in Orlando do not. I don’t always keep up with the latest trends in hair because I have to pick a style that is relatively easy to do in a hurry at 2 AM.
- I love to be called a “weather girl.”
This term is antiquated and outdated, and needs to be removed from everyone’s vocabulary. It’s degrading to those of us who worked hard studying math and science. Not to mention, no woman over the age of 16 should be called a “girl.” Have you ever heard of a “weather boy?” Nope. So let’s get rid of “weather girl.” If a female presenting weather on TV isn’t a meteorologist who has studied weather, then call her a weather reporter, weather anchor, or even weather woman. But never, ever “weather girl.”
- I walk into work at 4:25 for a newscast which begins at 4:30 AM.
See #1 – #4 above. Forecasting, graphics, hair, makeup and clothes take time. My alarm sounds at 1:50 AM five days each week. I get ready (makeup, hair, clothes) at home and then prepare the forecast and graphics once I arrive at the station. I have my routine down to a science so that every second is accounted for… but it still takes time to be ready.
- I get “used to” working a morning schedule.
Waking up at 1:50 AM is not normal. It’s not something you ever get used to. You deal with it. You make it work for your life and your family but you NEVER get used to it. It doesn’t get easier with time. In fact, with age, it gets more difficult.
- I love severe weather and hurricanes.
Everyone assumes that all meteorologists LOVE storms. While I like studying them and looking at the incredible pictures and radar images, I am not a fan of living through severe weather. I hate the damage it can cause. I lost power for days (several times) during the Central Florida hurricanes in 2004 (Charley, Frances, Jeanne). I had a hole in my roof from a tree. I had boards on my windows. I worked way too many hours. I lost a gorgeous tree in my front yard from 20+” of rain in Tropical Storm Fay. I would take sunshine and 70 over storms and hurricanes ANY day.
- I must be an extrovert because I get paid to talk.
I’m an introvert all the way. Because I talk for a living, I CRAVE quiet time and space to re-charge my soul. I wrote a separate blog on this topic, if you’d like to read more about how I live as an introvert in an extroverted job.
- I get paid to lie & be wrong everyday.
No and nope. I hate being wrong. I’m still not sure how I ended up in a career that is not an exact science (literally). The entire WESH team does our absolute best to be as accurate as possible with every forecast. You would laugh if you saw how much Jason Brewer and I will stew over one number… “Should we go with 90 or 89 for the high?” Sometimes we get it wrong, but it’s not on purpose, and we don’t do it just to tick you off. I wrote another blog about being wrong.
- Moving to news (or another shift) would be a promotion.
Not really. People often ask if I’d like to be “promoted” to news. News and weather are two different jobs, so if I moved to news, it would be a lateral move rather than a promotion. That’s not something I’m looking to do anyway. I love weather. I went back to school and transitioned to weather FROM news after my first TV job. I did that for a reason.
When it comes to the shifts we work in news/weather, we have very little choice. The managers place us in the spots they want us and on the teams they believe will be most successful. As tough as it is to wake up in the middle of the night, I enjoy working mornings. I like knowing more people are watching morning news and that I get to help them start their day.
Keep in mind, I’m not speaking for every broadcast meteorologist with these questions and answers. These answers apply only to me in some instances.