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This term is antiquated and outdated, and needs to be removed from everyone’s vocabulary.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.
John Lawler says
Amy- I’m up at 5am or so most days, always a pleasure to see you do the forecast. Tks for the enlightenment on your job and your hard work.!
Thanks, John! I appreciate that you took the time to read it.
Carol Smith says
I watch you almost every day. I am originally from Battle Creek, Michigan. I think you do a great job. Love your clothes.
A fellow Michigander! Thanks, Carol!
Earline Parmer says
You do an amazing job with the weather and I love watching you. You always look great – make-up and clothes. I guess I thought the Station provides clothes as some of you have similar styles, but you have great tastes in everything. I have been watching you for a long time – I guess when you first started. I do remember you were pregnant during Charlie and thought you did a most wonderful job with the storm.
Earline! Thank you. Yes, I was pregnant with my first baby in 2004… Charley, Frances, Jeanne. What a crazy time that was. Thanks for the all the kind compliments. You made my day!
Jim Kendall says
I am an amateur weather geek. I admire and respect all weather personnel who do this job especially the ones that have an early shift. Your blog on misconceptions and what you do was great. Keep up the good work! Live in New England, but love to keep up with other areas.Thanks for your service and dedication
Thanks for the feedback, Jim. Great to hear from a New Englander!
gerald seckeler says
You are a very interesting and bright young lady.
Well, thanks, Gerald.
Jim Peterson says
I couldn’t get up that early to go to work. I like to watch TV until 11PM and then go to bed. If I get up at that time it’s because my pager has gone off and someone in our rural, Gowrie, Iowa community needs our volunteer ambulance service. It’s always good to see our TV weather report at 6 or 10 so we can have a little advance notification of what we will encounter when we go on the call. You should come to Iowa and do a job shadow type exchange with one of our stations out of Des Moines and then we could watch you up here and you could get the experience of forecasting a blizzard or some other weather event that you don’t have down there. Thank you for what you do.
KCCI is my sister station, Jim. We are owned by the same company. John McLaughlin and I go WAY back! Thanks for commenting.
Marci Markwart says
And I use to work with her at WWMT in Kalamazoo, MI. Trust me when she tells you, weather is not an easy job. The weather team works the longest and toughest hours.
Marci!!! Hey!! Thank you for the feedback 🙂
Ed Hyland says
I just wanted to say that to me, the weather is by far the only thing in the News broadcast that really affects me and my day. I watch WESH for the most accurate and consistant forecast in the area. You and the staff do a wonderful job with all the tools at your disposal, and that bright smile of yours should be counted as one of the most most important. Thank you!
Thanks, Ed. I’m blushing from the compliments. You are too, too kind.
Charlie Hall says
We appreciate all the hard work you do. There is something special about watching my good Friend broadcast the weather of the day as I stand there in a towel having you tell me how to dress. I think you do remarkably well for having to get up at 1:50 am every day. I have weird hours like that occasionally and I am a wreck for days afterwards. You do all that and write children’s books too. You rock my Friend!
Charlie! Thanks so much for this. You helped inspire me to move ahead on my book. YOU rock, my Friend!
Clark Creery says
You do a wonderful job, keep up the good work and know that we appreciate all you do to keep us informed. Weather is a science that you have mastered. thank you.
Thanks so much, Clark! I appreciated the feedback.
Alissa Carlson says
Great blog! Thanks for writing it!
Thank you, Alissa!
Boo hoo ….you have to get up early. Get over yourself. Why don’t you post how much your yearly salary is? Who cares who does your makeup or hair?? Wow you do it yourself. Have a cookie. So what’s your yearly salary? I bet it’s more than an average ER doctor who saves lives everyday and is way smarter than you. TV on air people are absurdly overpaid. Your ARE a WEATHER GIRL. Get over it. We get it. You are a feminist. Shouldn’t a old overweight unattractive woman being doing the weather then instead of you? Then we’ll call her a weather-woman. And quite frankly these local news affiliates COULD simply have you repeat verbatim what the NWS forecast is. They don’t NEED you to do forecasts. You are there because of looks/on air presentation not because you can decipher the difference between a GFS or Euro Run. And plenty of mets DO ENJOY severe weather. Nothing wrong with that. It’s part of life. More people die in heat waves than hurricanes. I’m not trolling you or trying to be mean. You just sound completely ridiculous complaining about a dream gig.
I think you got the wrong idea. These are just fun facts for people who don’t know what a day in the life is like. I belive many people who wat h at home appreciate this post.
Also, you just gave Amy three more misconceptions:
1.) TV broadcasters aren’t paid all that much… I know what both “ER doc” & “weather girl” salaries look like and can tell you haven’t and probably never will see them…
2.) TV Mets have to break down a full forecast in about 3.5 minutes for people who don’t understand meteorology
3.) Guess who’s at the station when that afternoon severe storm comes by…
Love hearing you on the radio in the morning Amy! Thanks for lending some insight and debunking a few myths. I learned a few things!
Rick, “You are not trying to troll me or being mean?” I disagree. You are rude and downright cruel in some of these comments. I sound ridiculous complaining about my job? Not one of these was a complaint. I would counter that you sound completely ridiculous complaining about a blog post written as “fun facts” about my job based on questions people ask me all the time. If you feel the need to tell me to “get over myself” why in the world are you even reading my blog?! This is meant for people who are interested in what life is like behind the scenes. If you’re not interested in this, then JUST MOVE ALONG. You do not need to personally attack me on my own blog post.
I wouldn’t call my comments cruel. Plenty of that type of stuff on the internet. Sorry if I hurt your feelings.
Hey Rick, you pointed out another misconception. I made $16,000 at my first TV job with a science degree as a meteorologist, qualifying me for government assistance. That’s considered absurdly overpaid?
Jim. 16kyear in what market and in what year? Remember what professional athletes USED to be paid? Many had summer jobs in construction. Now they make millions just in salary alone and then have endorsement deals. Welcome to the world of rising income inequality. Again, are you saying that tv anchors in major local markets make less than a nurse? I think not.
David Crider says
Hey Rick, another misconception, I bet it’s hard to have a smile all the time on camera for the masses when real life is going on outside the studio, and not to mention the devastation that severe weather brings, weather heat or hurricane. AND BTW… you just insulted someone who has been a genuine, loving, beautiful person her entire life.
David, I’m sure many could manage to smile if you paid them 100k+ to point at a green screen and read a teleprompter. Many people working for minimum wage also have “real life going on”, yet they also have to smile to the customers. And the “devastation” from weather is over hyped in most cases. It’s amazing the way people panic. We’ve always had extreme weather. It’s called nature. Now it’s the media going into total panic mode with people running to the stores to get bread/milk every time it snows as if Armageddon is coming and the national news networks cover it like it’s a major news story.
David Crider says
I also am up early, about 4:30 AM, quick hair-style (short and spiky). I also choose my own wardrobe, being from the great state of Michigan it’s mostly flannel. Glad the weather is cooperating in Dallas so my flannel isn’t so weird these days. Love you Amy, keep up the good work. Forget the Rick’s
What an a•• wipe. Amy your upbeat personality and professionalism is a great start to the morning. By the way it’s going to be colder in the morning.
I retired a little over a year ago and did rotating shift work for over 40 years so I know how it feels to be at work at 3am, trying to balance family and social life with work and still feel normal, from what I see and hear from you on the TV you are doing a fantastic job of all the above, you seem down to earth and have a great outlook on life and your job, please continue doing just as you are, the information you deliver is greatly appreciated and your smile brightens my day each morning!
We’re up at 5 each morning and you’re my fave ? I love your clothes, and that’s how I found your blog, by searching “where does Amy Sweezy get her clothes?” Lol
It’s amazing to hear that you do all your own shopping and beauty. You look so put together, I figured it must be done by a “professional”, but that’s what you are! We’re about the same size so if you ever have a garage sale, let me know so I can come grab some dresses!! 😛
In all seriousness, it’s really an inspiration that you work such a shifted schedule from your family, and make it work. You and your husband must be great partners.
And don’t worry about being “wrong” about the weather. We understand Mother Nature can turn in an instant. I’m from Indiana, as least we don’t have the frequent tornado scares here in central Florida! Keep it up!
Sonny Tripi says
Great, honest write up… You’re an awesome individual… Thank you for all you do…
It was so great to meet you and your son the trail today!
Perhaps you met Amy Kaufeldt? I wasn’t on the trail with my son 🙂
I think you do a great job!
I can imagine all the things you juggle and still pull it off so well 🙂
Barbara Evans says
I will miss you. I am a 78 year old retired woman. I wake up early every day and my TV comes on the minute l wake up! I always start my day with you. I appreciate your style and professionalism. Thank you for your years of commitment and hard work. Good luck in your next endeavor. Like I said, I will miss you terribly.