Like Crack For Middle Age White Guys

Nearly all forecasters on TV are close in accuracy. There’s no competitive advantage to be had there. I need to be the guy who tells the best story.

geoff on set with janet

I hadn’t been on TV for a few years before the last few days. It’s what I remember. Very enjoyable. A really good gig.

Being on TV nightly is like crack for middle age white guys!

I was a performer before becoming a meteorologist. Originally weather just seemed like a good place to perform.

It still is, but along the way I developed a serious crush on weather itself.

Forecasting is fun. I’m a math guy. I look at maps and charts and visualize what’s going to happen. Forecast models have gotten good enough to speak to me!

You don’t get all the details. You couldn’t remember all the details. You need the essence of a day which will be different morning, noon and night! You need actionable information.

Nearly all forecasters on TV are close in accuracy. There’s no competitive advantage to be had there. I need to be the guy who tells the best story.

It’s a challenge. Weather is ad libbed for a couple of minutes a few times a night. As a former boss pointed out, I do PowerPoint presentations. A different one every day.

Not everything works. I’m always trying.

My friend Peter Mokover, while my boss at WPEN, asked me not to tell the jokes that weren’t funny!

I’ve worked with two anchors so far and our tosses were great. That’s a sign of their confidence. Not everyone is playful on-camera. You’d be surprised. This is a jackpot for me!

I’m rambling… here’s what I’m getting at. Being on TV is very satisfying. It’s nice to be back on. It’s nice to to tell people, “Don’t go to sleep yet.”

Now Casting For Weathermen

weather contest

I just got an email from… well, I’ll let her tell you.

Hey There!

My name is Mandi Rogers and I am a casting producer seeking America’s next meteorologist for a major network television show!

Are you a meteorologist with a big personality? Do you think you have what it takes to be “America’s Next Weatherman?” Emmy award winning production company is now casting weathermen and women for a major network! Are you a passionate climatolgist? Do you love everything about the weather and ready for your big debut? This could be your chance to For more details submit yourself now with a breif bio, location, website (if applicable), contact number and photo.

I have attached a flier for more information on how to apply and would love if you could help us get the word out to your weathercaster family, co-workers, interns and social media following. Feel free to share on Facebook, Twitter, E-mail or just hang up a flier.

***If you have the personality and bravery to report in any climate, then we want you!

“I’ll show you how to stalk,” Stef offered. She then followed the breadcrumbs until we found the show’s producer. “I’ve sent emails like this.” She has.

Email like mine are sent early in the development process. Usually things stall. Not always. This show might hit the air.

Not with me.

When In Doubt, Blame The Weatherman… Again

georgia snow

When in doubt, blame the weatherman! Maybe there was a time that worked. It doesn’t anymore. The governor of Georgia, Nathan Deal, understands that better today than yesterday.

Tuesday at 10:00 AM, as a crippling snow and ice storm was moving through the south, Governor Deal said,

“At that time it was still, in most of the forecasts, anticipated that the city of Atlanta would only have a mild dusting or a very small accumulation if any, and that the majority of the effects of the storm would be south of here. Preparations were made for those predictions.”

Except those weren’t the predictions.

Here’s a segment of the NWS Area Forecast Discussion from Tuesday at 4:11 AM:

IN MAIN BAND FOR THE AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT…HAVE SNOW/SLEET AMOUNTS OF 1-3 INCLUDING ATL METRO. GREATEST AMOUNT ALONG A BROAD LINE FROM LA GRANGE TO THOMASTON TO LOUISVILLE. BUT SOUTH OF LUMPKIN TO MACON TO SWAINSBORO LINE…ACCUM WILL BE 0.1-0.3 INCH MIX OF SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN WITH UP TO AN INCH OF LIGHT SNOW ON TOP. ALL THESE ACCUMULATION… OTHER THAN THE NW GA LIGHT BAND…WILL MEET WARNING CRITERIA SO HAVE CONTINUED WARNING AND EXPANDED THIS TO ANOTHER TIER OF COUNTIES INCLUDING ATL METRO AREA.

FINAL NOTE…WE REMAIN CONCERNED ABOUT IMPACT WITH ONSET OF PRECIP AROUND RUSH HOUR AND SCHOOL RELEASE.

The governor has now been taken to task by pretty much everyone who knows the definition of the isobar!

Marshall Shepherd, a meteorologist with the University of Georgia and president of the American Meteorological Society, said neither meteorologists nor the forecast for the Atlanta area was to blame.

“The buses had a tough time getting kids home, but meteorologists should not be thrown under the bus,” he said.

At 3:39 a.m. Tuesday, Marshall said the weather service issued a winter storm warning for the entire Atlanta metro area, expecting 1-2 inches of snow. “Overall, the Atlanta event was a well-forecasted and well-warned event,” he said. – USAToday

This reminds me of Connecticut’s Halloween snowstorm of 2011. You remember Jeff Butler, the president of CL&P.

“But I will assure you, when we had the weather forecast and everything we looked at in preparation for this storm, the amount of snow, which ended up being the problem, was far more significant than what had been forecast,” he said.”This event as it came in Saturday started earlier and lasted longer, with more snow accumulation–and remember, all the trees still had their foliage on them.” Butler’s comments stood in stark contrast to the dire warnings issued by local television meteorologists and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Friday, more than 24 hours before the first flakes fell. “If we get the amount of snow that’s being forecast, a lot of people are going to lose power, and power is going to be out for an extended period of time,” Malloy told reporters at a news conference at the Legislative Office Building late Friday morning. – Hartford Courant

I don’t think so. Here’s what I wrote in my blog a few days before that storm hit.

Whatever falls will be heavier inch-for-inch than a typical storm. The snow to water ratio will be low. It’s the kind of snow that’s good for snowballs and extra slippery for drivers!

There’s one more element of this storm which is worrisome. Sustained 20-30 mph northeasterly wind with higher gusts is likely. If this wet snow clings to trees and leaves we’ll have enough wind to bring down limbs and power lines. – My Permanent Record

I wasn’t alone. NBC30’s Ryan Hanrahan’s early take:

“One of the reasons I’m unusually concerned about this storm is that the amount of leaves on the trees make them particularly vulnerable to damage. If the snow is of the heavy and wet variety we could have major and widespread power outages. We’re in uncharted territory here in terms of this type of storm this early in the season.” – Ryan Hanrahan

This same excuse was trotted out after Hurricane Sandy left Long Island powerless! Are we that easy a target?

What happened in Georgia is truly a tragedy. It would have been nice to get a really long lead on this forecast, but sometimes science doesn’t cooperate. However, once the forecast is there you can’t stick your head in the sand and you can’t blame the weatherman.

Well, you can, but we’ll call you on it in a hurry.

In A Pissing Match Everyone Gets Wet

cantore-weather-channel

The Weather Channel and DirecTV have gone past the end of their carriage agreement with no new contract in sight. Let the PR games begin!

It’s only been the last few years that cable companies, satellite providers, stations and networks began airing their disputes in public, asking for your help to make sure channels don’t disappear. That makes me uncomfortable.

From my vantage, this dispute seems the most public and potentially ugliest so far. The Weather Channel is both DirecTV’s supplier and competitor–mostly owned by NBC/Universal, which itself is owned by Comcast! Comcast has to be careful they’re not teaching their suppliers how to beat them at their own game!

The Weather Channel of 2014 isn’t the same service that John Coleman began in 1982. Back then it was 100% weather presented without much sizzle. Today’s TWC is much more slickly packaged with lots of non-weather programming. DirecTV says, “more than 40 percent of The Weather Channel’s programming is dedicated to reality television shows.”

Beyond that, its iconic “Local on-the-8s” forecast is no longer uniformly delivered. In Connecticut, Comcast didn’t provide the local forecast on TWC’s HD channel. The forecast on TWC’s standard def channel was for the shoreline and often inapplicable where I lived a few hundred feet up on Mount Carmel. Here in Irvine, AT&T Uverse doesn’t provide it at all.

It’s also a problem for DirecTV subscribers.

Since we are a national service provider, we’re unable to offer local updates through The Weather Channel the way that local-based companies can.

The Weather Channel is facing a financial reality some all news channels are also facing. People watch when the weather’s compelling and don’t when it isn’t. That’s part of the reason for the move into (easily preempted) unscripted non-fiction.

weathernationThe wild card in all this is DirecTV’s ace in-the-hole, WeatherNation. A few weeks ago DirecTV began carrying WeatherNation right next to The Weather Channel. Begun by Paul Douglas, a Minneapolis area meteorologist for years and innovator in computer graphics, WN reminds me of the ‘old’ Weather Channel. It’s all weather with clean graphics, nothing fancy. It looks like a lean operation with the on-camera meteorologists acting as their own director, switching the show live on-air.

The Weather Channel is pushing back on-air and on-line. Jim Cantore, their most recognizable meteorologist/personality, has become the company spokesman.

But now DIRECTV is threatening to remove this critical life-saving community resource from 20 million households.

The problem is TWC probably isn’t where you should go when weather is critical. You’re nearly always better served going to a source which specifically concentrates on your specific area.

In the end this dispute isn’t about competition or technology or even “life-saving.” This is about money and power. When an agreement is reached (it will be) both DirecTV and The Weather Channel will shut up and play on.

Today it’s a pissing match and unfortunately, in a pissing match everyone gets wet!

This Is Your Doing: “Best Of” New Haven Advocate

The results are now in, appearing in last week’s New Haven Advocate issue. You done good!

I was feeling sorry for myself when the New Haven Advocate announced their annual reader’s poll. Maybe you remember? I asked for your vote on Facebook, Twitter and my blog.

The rules allow for electioneering. I had something to prove–something I still wanted to show.

The results are now in, appearing in last week’s Advocate (but for some frustrating reason not online). You done good!

Geoff Fox got more votes than the combined totals in many categories. He got so many votes we stopped
counting them. Seriously. The spreadsheet just went on and on and on. In our entire history of Best Of voting, we’ve never seen so many votes for one winner.

I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate your support… except to say I appreciate it a lot.

Is this vindication? I think so, but maybe I’m still a little too anxious about being vindicated.

From the New Haven Advocate: Geoff Fox was not on the air while we conducted this year’s Best Of New. Haven readers’ poll. The former WTNH meteorologist’s contract was not renewed in January, and, for the first time since we have been running our annual survey, there would be no reason for our readers to fill in his name for Best Local TV Personality — an honor that had been bestowed on him many times during his 26-year tenure covering snowstorms and heat waves, and reporting on science and technology, for Channel 8’s news team.

Nevertheless, this was his biggest year ever. Call it a sympathy vote. We don’t know what we got ’til it’s gone. But one thing was clear when we counted this year’s votes: Geoff Fox got more votes than the combined totals in many categories. He got so many votes we stopped counting them. Seriously. The spreadsheet just went on and on and on. In our entire history of Best Of voting, we’ve never seen so many votes for one winner.

So instead of awarding him Best TV Personality, we are taking a leap and bestowing on him a special honor. Call it The Best of The Best: The Readers’ Favorite. Think of it as our first unofficial inductee into a New Haven Hall of Fame.

This year’s poll was our biggest year ever as well — we received well over 112,000 total votes in 16 categories. For those uninitiated, every year we run a ballot in print and online for four weeks beginning in February. Readers are asked to fill in their favorite places, on everything from Best New Restaurant to Best Hardware Store. There are no staff filtered nominations — every person, business or institution is eligible. We then spend days counting the votes.
The results are so big that we publish them in two issues.

Taken together, these two volumes (also available online as of May 12 on newhavenadvocate.com) not only provide a useful tool for discovering the best places to eat, shop, work out in and get healthy, but it is also a great overview of the quality of life and vitality in our region.

This year we introduced a few new categories — including Best Chef and Best Cupcakes. As usual, we have our share of repeat winners, but we are always excited to see newbies, too. You’ll have to check the following pages to see the results — no previews here.

We first met Fox more than a decade ago at one of our winners’ receptions. He was charming and engaging, as personable and funny in person as he is on air. We have spent a few hours together since then, and observed that Fox is, in the words of computer nerds from the 1980s, truly WYSIWIG —- that is, What You See Is What You Get. Fox defies stereotypes in many ways, but mostly by his curiosity and his smarts. He’s a technology buff — he
built his own computer and website, and he’s an amateur photographer as a well as a ham adio buff. He’s also a long-time pop culture vulture, the kind of guy who will reference Smokey Robinson & The Miracles’ “Mickey’s Monkey” as fluently as he will tell you how much he enjoys the latest TV phenomenon.

We have been at some of the hundreds of charity events he has graciously hosted — including our own Best Of New Haven celebrations on occasion — and laughed at his asides while he makes everyone feel comfortable. We have read his blog (geofffoxcom) while he traced the destructive path of Hurricane Katrina, concemed about a friend’s mother who was living in New Orleans at the time. (He called three days before the storm hit and told her she
needed to leave; he now says the house was destroyed and she would have been killed.)

We have invited him metaphorically into our living room, to find out whether we needed an umbrella the next day, and, like any weatherman (or meteorologist) he is very often accurate but sometimes not. We have heard people joke about how he always gets the weather wrong, even on days when he gets it right. And when he does blow it, perhaps most unusually of all, he apologizes, as he famously did last winter for a storm that never roared.

”People think we hype the forecast numbers,” he says, “but there’s no upside to being wrong. If I say there is going to be half an inch of snow or 15 inches, there’s no difference in the ratings. The word ‘snow’ is the magic word. Believe me, I don’t want to be wrong and I don’t want to hype.”

In the days just before we went to press, Fox the TV station announced that Fox the meteorologist would be joining the station’s news team. The seven-time regional Emmy Award winner now does the weather and a science segment for WTIC weeknights at 4 and 11 p.m., and billboards promoting his return to the airwaves light up the interstate.

Welcome back, Geoff. And see you next year. – Josh Mamis

I’m Ready For My Cameo

“I’ve just been with us when we were in high school,” I said at the sound of the tone.

I was in my car on my way home from Orange yesterday afternoon when I reached my friend Peter’s voicemail. Peter and I met as adults, but we understand each other’s background. We were both A/V Squad member nerdy geeks. We grew up separately, but on parallel paths.

“I’ve just been with us when we were in high school,” I said at the sound of the tone.

My trip to Orange started with an email from Nick Minore.

For my English final project, a group of students and myself are working on developing a student-produced news broadcast utilizing works of literature that we’ve read throughout our studies. Our plan is to take events from literature and report on them as real-world events, including weather, sports, finance, and movie reviews.

We came up with the idea to describe the weather and then thought of you. Would you be willing to assist us with our project by helping us produce a real-world weather broadcast? One of our group members has developed a studio, complete with lighting, sound equipment, and a full-sized green screen.

This is the kind of thing I normally don’t do, but I was curious.

The studio was located in a pool house behind Nick’s family’s home. The single room ‘house’ with ceilings high enough for lights is just the right size for a studio!

What amazed me was how well equipped Nick was. He didn’t have broadcast quality equipment or even many cases TV specific equipment. What he did have was an understanding of what was needed and the ability to ad lib and adapt.

The fill lights were decorative lanterns with paper shades that diffused the light. The blue chromakey wall was a sheet. A microphone was hung from a beam supporting the roof. There was a “control room in a box” TriCaster that Nick borrowed from a local producer he works for.

Nick’s father who fabricates metal for high performance race cars built an aluminum camera jib that would be the envy of most high end production companies! Seriously. Nice job.

Nick was accompanied by three other college bound Notre Dame High School students in Mrs. DelVecchio’s English class. One was the weatherman, the other two were the crew. I was there for a cameo!

A moment after the weatherman began to deliver his forecast I walked in and asked if this was where the meteorologist auditions were taking place. Funny? Maybe.

Did I add anything to their presentation? Probably not. In this case I was the one who got a treat by meeting these industrious kids.

Note to Mrs. DelVecchio: These kids love you. Whatever you’re doing, don’t stop.