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Need For Weather Centers?


tvnewsjunkie

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For years weather centers have been a dedicated spot in almost every local stations studio space. My question is, is there a need to use precious studio space to have an area thats only on tv for a small amount of time? Why can't they just put there weather operation in the newsroom and have the weather person open the weather from a standup spot?

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For years weather centers have been a dedicated spot in almost every local stations studio space. My question is, is there a need to use precious studio space to have an area thats only on tv for a small amount of time? Why can't they just put there weather operation in the newsroom and have the weather person open the weather from a standup spot?

 

This is what WRC (NBC4 Wash) does. Has a green screen in studio, but has the weather forecasting center in the newsroom. Most tosses are done to the newsroom with only a few actually taking place in studio.
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For years weather centers have been a dedicated spot in almost every local stations studio space. My question is, is there a need to use precious studio space to have an area thats only on tv for a small amount of time? Why can't they just put there weather operation in the newsroom and have the weather person open the weather from a standup spot?

 

Here's why:

[yt]G4lJFViIIso[/yt]

When this was filmed, their weather center was in the newsroom. Now, their weather center is in the studio so there will never be a repeat of this again. :)

 

Also definitely helps during severe weather so that information can be updated quickly.

 

Also helps because weather people don't always use the remote, they most often have a weather producer who actually clicks the buttons on the computer so communication is a lot easier if they are a foot or 2 away from you versus a few yards away in another part of the building.

 

I definitely think it's good to have the weather center in the studio. Four of six stations here have the weather center in the studio (the ABC and the Univision don't).

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Here's why:

[yt]G4lJFViIIso[/yt]

When this was filmed, their weather center was in the newsroom. Now, their weather center is in the studio so there will never be a repeat of this again. :)

 

Also definitely helps during severe weather so that information can be updated quickly.

 

Also helps because weather people don't always use the remote, they most often have a weather producer who actually clicks the buttons on the computer so communication is a lot easier if they are a foot or 2 away from you versus a few yards away in another part of the building.

 

I definitely think it's good to have the weather center in the studio. Four of six stations here have the weather center in the studio (the ABC and the Univision don't).

 

Also, for some stations, the newsroom and studio can be a world away. Like, down a couple flights of stairs and on the total opposite side of the building. In that instance, it would take FAR too long to get from Point A to Point B in a reasonable amount of time, especially if the system crashes (like it does from time to time) and you need to quickly restart everything.

 

But about that video, do we know if management got mad at him or something for being out of breath and forcing them to take a commercial break? I certainly understand permanently moving the weather center into the studio to avoid that problem again though.

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But about that video, do we know if management got mad at him or something for being out of breath and forcing them to take a commercial break? I certainly understand permanently moving the weather center into the studio to avoid that problem again though.

 

I doubt it, it was a weekend newscast...

 

Oh, forgot to add that the weather center is the meteorologist's office. They don't have a cubicle in the newsroom. The phone on-set is their phone, the computer is also the one they use to check work email, etc. Trust me, some weather people like being in the studio away from everyone else.

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WITI does 98% of their weather from the weather office and/or weather deck. Occasionally they will start from in front of the 3x2 big screen and transition to the green screen in the main studio.

 

It works for them. But at the same time, the weather center works for stations like WISN and WTMJ. The real question is whether stations are utilizing their "weather centers" properly and to their potential.

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WITI does 98% of their weather from the weather office and/or weather deck. Occasionally they will start from in front of the 3x2 big screen and transition to the green screen in the main studio.

 

It works for them. But at the same time, the weather center works for stations like WISN and WTMJ. The real question is whether stations are utilizing their "weather centers" properly and to their potential.

 

I still don't know what to think about their lack of a weather area in the studio. It just comes off that they don't care that much about weather. The weather office is way overdue for an overhaul with the amount it's used on air (as opposed to, say, WTMJ, who has only done some minor rearranging since the 90's and only shows the wx office for severe weather cut-ins) and the weather deck is getting kind of run down last I checked.
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I doubt it, it was a weekend newscast...

 

Oh, forgot to add that the weather center is the meteorologist's office. They don't have a cubicle in the newsroom. The phone on-set is their phone, the computer is also the one they use to check work email, etc. Trust me, some weather people like being in the studio away from everyone else.

^This is usually the reason. Most stations that have large weather sets operate this way.

 

Locally, WCCO operates this way and has since their newsroom/building remodel 6-7 years ago. I know for a fact KMSP has also used the set for the "weather office" for over a decade now. Plus, their meteorologists update their models and graphics from home now, too. So, they really are only there when they have to be now.

 

On the flip side. KSTP maintains a weather office outside the studio directly behind the weather set. So, they have both. And to the best of my knowledge KARE's meteorologists are still housed in the newsroom. But, They do almost 95% of their forecasting from "The Backyard" outside. And, Their green screen is housed outside, too. So, they are kinda in their own little world.

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I doubt it, it was a weekend newscast...

 

Oh, forgot to add that the weather center is the meteorologist's office. They don't have a cubicle in the newsroom. The phone on-set is their phone, the computer is also the one they use to check work email, etc. Trust me, some weather people like being in the studio away from everyone else.

 

That is how WTAJ and WJAC are. I had the opportunity to go on the air and be the weatherman for the day at WJAC. The chief met just stayed in his "on-set office" all morning, even before and after the broadcast.

 

If you want to see a short clip, WJAC actually uploaded a short clip. Sidenote, I was in sixth grade at the time. I had to get up at 1 AM to get to the WJAC studios on time. It was a long, tedious, but fun morning. I hope I'm not this dorky today. (

)

 

Seeing WTAJ's sets in 2007 and 2010, I know that their tiny weather center then functioned as their office. The mets were shoved in a corner and it was cramped and I don't know how they did anything. The chief met and I had a meeting. He's very nice and he showed me his gismos and gadgets. Now with their brand new set, they have a huge space where they can do lots of work.

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^This is usually the reason. Most stations that have large weather sets operate this way.

 

Locally, WCCO operates this way and has since their newsroom/building remodel 6-7 years ago. I know for a fact KMSP has also used the set for the "weather office" for over a decade now. Plus, their meteorologists update their models and graphics from home now, too. So, they really are only there when they have to be now.

 

On the flip side. KSTP maintains a weather office outside the studio directly behind the weather set. So, they have both. And to the best of my knowledge KARE's meteorologists are still housed in the newsroom. But, They do almost 95% of their forecasting from "The Backyard" outside. And, Their green screen is housed outside, too. So, they are kinda in their own little world.

 

Huh, I didn't know KARE did that too. I thought it was just a weird/awesome KUSA thing.

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Huh, I didn't know KARE did that too. I thought it was just a weird/awesome KUSA thing.

KARE's "Backyard" debuted over 30 years ago in August 1983 shortly after Gannett acquired the station. I've always been led to believe it originated here before Gannett adopted it at KUSA in Denver. It could have been the other way around but, I've never found anything stating when KUSA's "Backyard" debuted to confirm, though.

 

I do have to admit it makes for some weird/unique forecasts. Seeing a meteorologist in a parka bundled up head to toe standing in front of the green screen outside in the depths of winter isn't something you're going to see in every market.

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Wow, I didn't know that. It must've been a KARE/WTCN invention I suppose, as I'm fairly certain KUSA never did weather from the "backyard" until when they moved into a new building in the early 90s. At least, their old building (which is now KRMA's) doesn't seem to have space for one, and I've never seen outside weather reports in any of the old footage I've watched.

 

I like weather outside though, especially in colder climate cities such as Denver or the Twin Cities. I always wondered why more stations don't do it, but then again, it probably isn't all that pleasant for the meteorologists/weather people.

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Wow, I didn't know that. It must've been a KARE/WTCN invention I suppose, as I'm fairly certain KUSA never did weather from the "backyard" until when they moved into a new building in the early 90s. At least, their old building (which is now KRMA's) doesn't seem to have space for one, and I've never seen outside weather reports in any of the old footage I've watched.

 

I like weather outside though, especially in colder climate cities such as Denver or the Twin Cities. I always wondered why more stations don't do it, but then again, it probably isn't all that pleasant for the meteorologists/weather people.

It is an interesting concept you don't see often. WCCO did something similar when Paul Douglas (formerly of KARE, now owner of WeatherNation) & Meteorologist/Master Gardener, Rebecca Kolls were both there. Being in downtown Minneapolis they built a "rooftop garden" to use. The only major difference being 'CCO didn't go outside during bad weather like KARE does. So, you didn't get any meteorologists holding an umbrella while forcasting or, bundled up to high heaven at 'CCO.

 

The rooftop was abandoned when both of them left the station some years ago now. I was quite disappointed to see that happen. But, I'm quite happy to see them planning a big return to the roof soon with their new "outdoor studio".

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Also helps because weather people don't always use the remote, they most often have a weather producer who actually clicks the buttons on the computer so communication is a lot easier if they are a foot or 2 away from you versus a few yards away in another part of the building.

 

Ahhhhh hahahahahhahahah. Um no.

 

VERY few stations actually still employ weather producers, I know of exactly one in Houston that does (KPRC) and I still can't figure out how they managed that (the position is a very recent addition). The weekend Met might produce at some stations 3-days a week, but even that is a rarity. Besides that, *why* would the on-air talent not want to control the flow of their weather story on their own and how exactly would they "cue" their producer to change the graphics (during a normal newscast) without being obvious about it?

 

Now severe weather coverage is an entirely different story. Depending on the station/market and severity of the event, they may be two and/or three people in the weather center to help out with coverage, operate radar, and keep an eye on the wires, etc for updates.

 

As for the need to have a weather center in the studio versus an office. For some stations it's six of one, half a dozen of another. Depending on how studio camera operations are handled (robotic versus manual, etc), it's often easier to have the weather center in the studio. Here in Houston, we have two actual weather centers - one in the newsroom and one in the studio. But all of our shows are "coded" with specific camera shots so having the it in the studio makes it much easier to block those shots.

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Ahhhhh hahahahahhahahah. Um no.

 

VERY few stations actually still employ weather producers, I know of exactly one in Houston that does (KPRC) and I still can't figure out how they managed that (the position is a very recent addition). The weekend Met might produce at some stations 3-days a week, but even that is a rarity. Besides that, *why* would the on-air talent not want to control the flow of their weather story on their own and how exactly would they "cue" their producer to change the graphics (during a normal newscast) without being obvious about it?

 

Now severe weather coverage is an entirely different story. Depending on the station/market and severity of the event, they may be two and/or three people in the weather center to help out with coverage, operate radar, and keep an eye on the wires, etc for updates.

 

Maybe not in Houston but I know here that is the case. I can tell you, with 100% accuracy, that KSAT, and WOAI both employ full-time weather producers. KABB and KENS do not but that is Sinclair and Belo for you, two of the cheapest owners in the business. WOAI's weather dude told his producer one time on camera if she can go back to the previous slide, which she did. KENS and KABB both have three in the weather office but yes some stations still do contrary to popular belief. WOAI weather people also tag team from time to time. The SA stations spend considerably more compared to stations in most markets.
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Ok, yes I can see asking the off-camera producer (or, in most markets its likely a weather intern) to go "back" to a slide, but as for them operating it in lieu of the on-camera talent, I find it highly unlikely (weather talent live in the field is another story). Heck, just before I left my old station (where I was one of the meteorologists) WeatherCentral (now part of WSI) had introduced a "jump back" feature into their system that allowed on-camera talent to go back a slide by holding down one of the 4 buttons on the clicker for a specified length of time. Or, you know, most weather people (and I've done it myself) will simply just walk back over to the weather computer and do it themselves while continuing to talk and engage the viewer).

 

Based on current trends (and in the case of at least one TV station you mentioned) I would expect further cutbacks in that position. When a news and/or general manager is looking at the budget for an upcoming fiscal year, that salary paid to that off-camera worker will be vulnerable. Who do you think will get the axe first, when the GM or station owner mandates cutbacks in the newsroom? An on-air reporter or an off-air weather producer (who essentially duplicates a job that any competent on-air talent can do him or herself)?

 

And don't give me the "oh XX is out in the community doing school visits and stuff can't be expected to build a show and forecast for themselves." The chief met at my station teaches a meteorology class three days a week and still finds time to do his own show.

 

Also wanted to point out that in some groups (Fox being one of them) they have a mandated number of positions that each station is allowed to have -- even if there's money in the budget for another position. We've run into that wall recently.

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KARE's "Backyard" debuted over 30 years ago in August 1983 shortly after Gannett acquired the station. I've always been led to believe it originated here before Gannett adopted it at KUSA in Denver. It could have been the other way around but, I've never found anything stating when KUSA's "Backyard" debuted to confirm, though.

 

I do have to admit it makes for some weird/unique forecasts. Seeing a meteorologist in a parka bundled up head to toe standing in front of the green screen outside in the depths of winter isn't something you're going to see in every market.

 

I think the outdoor weather thing was something that Gannett got from KARE and tried to spread it around. KVUE used a green screen in a "courtyard" for a while in the early 90s, but it was only really only ever used for the 10:00 show and they had two other weather locations in use at the time (the weather office/"Storm Center", and a weather area on the main set that looked like it was big enough to be a working weather center but never had any equipment in it) so it was dropped pretty quickly once Belo took over.

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Three stations that I know of that had outdoor weather sets and have all abandoned them:

 

KRIV-Houston: Damaged during Hurricane Ike and management elected not to resurrect it. From the US-59 freeway, you can still see the tattered remains of the tent-like structure used to help control lighting for the screen.

 

KPRC-Houston: Debuted a "weather garden" in the early 2000s, but abandoned it sometime after I left for Mississippi in 2005. I haven't seen it used since I've been back in Houston.

 

WTVW-Evansville: Don't know when it debuted, but first saw it in 2005 or 2006 during a visit to family after I moved to Mississippi. Abandoned in 2010 (along with WTVW's downtown studios) when they merged operations with WEHT across the Ohio river in Henderson, KY.

 

(edited to add) Back to the main topic:

 

KRIV has two weather centers - one in the newsroom and one in the studio (part of it also serves as our "Traffic Authority" cubicle). The newsroom set-up is a left over from the building's original (1998 - 200?) studio set. There's also a small weather "office" in the newsroom in the same area. From what I've been able to ascertain, the "on set" weather center used with the original studio set was little more than a stand-up area with a desk, computer monitor and a duratran next to the screen.

 

 

The newsroom weather center gets very little "on-air" use now, but our mets do use it as their primary workspace before moving into the studio for air. Computers and monitors in both areas are linked together so workflow is not disturbed.

 

WCBI-Columbus, MS has a similar set up, from what I've been told. The weather office is immediately behind the on-set weather center and the computer on both sides of the wall are shared.

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