8 weeks ago I walked away from 25 years in TV weather. During my final days, I posted 20 lessons I’d learned throughout my career. In case you missed them on Facebook or LinkedIn, here is # 9. (All 20 can be found here on my blog. Take a peek at the titles to see which topics might interest you).
- SO MANY CHANGES
Technological advancements completely changed the way I did my job from 1995 to 2020. In the early days, computers were very basic, very loud, and very slow. Information arrived only a few times per day. Forecast maps printed on giant, noisy DIFAX machines one painfully slow line at a time. I entered my temperatures manually onto a graphic with a sort of early paint program. By the time the numbers were shown on TV, they were at least a half-hour old, if not a whole hour or longer. Of course, the actual temperatures were recorded by a person, not a computer, and written on a piece of paper after checking a thermometer. That person would then call the numbers in to the local National Weather Service office which then sent the numbers out to the TV stations. Satellite images had to be rendered for several minutes and were often 15 to 30 minutes old by the time they made it to TV. NEXRAD was this brand new network of radars being installed around the country. Very few TV stations owned their own live radar.
The internet wasn’t widely used and no one had even heard of Google. You couldn’t search for anything online. If I needed to look up a meteorological term, I had to pull out my college books and hope it was in there.
When I started on South Bend TV in 1995, the morning show was one hour long. When I arrived at WESH in 2002, my morning show was 2 hours long. When I left in 2020, we did news from 4:30 AM to 10:00 AM and then an hour at noon. That’s 6.5 hours of “morning” news.
Smartphones and apps made everyone an armchair “weather expert” and changed the information I gave on TV. Current temperatures and a rain chance percentage weren’t as important from me when you could get them with a touch of a button. The WHEN and WHERE became more important than the WHAT or WHY.
Computer forecast models have come a long way, too. When I started there were very few forecast models run or used. The very first tropical models (those “spaghetti” lines) weren’t run until Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Now there are numerous models using various parameters covering the entire Earth. More information led to better, more accurate forecasts, but it also meant more to traverse over, around, and through each day.
The biggest change to my job was probably the addition of social media. I had to navigate from broadcasting to/at people to interacting and responding with immediate feedback. Occasionally people were nasty and awful, but I found that, much like in real life, many times people are AMAZING and kind and grateful. I “met” so many awesome “friends” through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, most with whom I’d never have interacted without social media.
While we’re on that topic, let me take this chance to say THANK YOU to all of you who befriended me on social media. Thank you for following me and offering positive feedback over the years. Thank you for sharing my posts and for continuing to stay in touch even after I left your TV screen a few months ago.
➡️ “Change is the only constant in life. One’s ability to adapt to those changes will determine your success in life.” – Benjamin Franklin