A key attribute of an exceptional television weathercaster is the ability to effortlessly segue from any news story into the weathercast and back out again. This skill may not be taught in a meteorology classroom, but it's nearly as vital to a TV weather job as understanding thermodynamics.
How many times have you seen the news anchor deliver a somber Iraq War story followed by the tone deaf, chipper weather forecaster rattling off the highs and lows? Just as in any persuasive piece of writing, there's got to be a transition from one section to the next. And this transition needs to be in addition to playing the weather theme music, which on many stations tends to be the only transitional tool used anymore.
Jason Samenow's ForecastToday:
Mostly sunny, very warm and humid. Highs 85-89.Tonight:
Mostly clear. Lows 60-65 (suburbs-city)Monday:
Mostly sunny, hot and humid. Highs 88-92.
The full week ahead forecast will appear in tomorrow's post.
The hallmark of a good segue is in how much the forecaster sells it. The body language of the participants in the successful segue communicate confidence and ease. Everything about them says, "I know you're wondering how I'm going to transition here. But I've so got this."
My favorite segues are the botched ones, just as I love DVDs because of their blooper reel extras. I love the complete duds. They're obvious from the weathercaster's rapidly evaporating smile and vacant look, and from the lack of vocal conviction. Everything about the forecaster involved in a bungled segue says, "Don't look at me. Look at the radar loop. Someone please help me out here."
Confidence is everything in a successful segue. TV meteorologists: you must sell your segue like you sell your seven day. With style.
Here are some transitions to try out on your own time as you brush up on your skills. They progress from easy to expert. I've provided suggested answers, most if not all of which are purposefully ridiculous. This is to show you how varied your segues can be, and also to allow me to have some fun. Please fill in your own responses in the comments section of this blog post in order to truly master these skills.
1. Easy: Take the obvious opportunity
Anchor: "The search is on for missing hiker Scott Scotterman, who went missing on Mount Baldy five days ago in a freak snowstorm. Rescue workers are hoping for good weather conditions tomorrow in order to airlift more teams into the area."
Suggested Response: "Well Rebecca, unfortunately it looks like that poor hiker is as good as dead as we have another storm system on tap tomorrow that promises more snow for the high country. Maybe if this guy had checked the weather before he left he wouldn't be in this mess. What a jerk."
2: Medium Challenge: When thinking too hard, say something crazy (a.k.a. the "Mark Mathis Approach)
Anchor: "The judge ordered all three men to remain in custody pending their trial on first degree murder charges."
Suggested response: "I could never go to prison because SuperDoppler 9000 is my lawyer and he's quite skilled in legalese."
3: Tough challenge: No segue is impossible.
Anchor: "... Holocaust."
Suggested Response: "Tomorrow at least will be free of dictatorship and persecution for everyone in the viewing region... atmospheric persecution that is! It's gonna be a sunny day! Blammo!"
So now we've examined three varied situations that you're likely to encounter along your journey from small to major market weathercasting. No matter if it's dealing with an obviously weather-related story or the most difficult segue in the business, that of a story involving genocide, you can put these principles to work for you.
And remember, anything is segue able.
Check back for more practical tips for improving your TV weathercasting skills, including: idle banter; the live shot; and the comprehensive guide to not standing in front of the map that I care most about.