Changing The Rules During The Game

I am not a meteorologist, but I do the same job as the three meteorologists I work with. Over twenty plus years, and with lots of study, I think I know what I’m doing… though that’s for my viewers to judge, not me.

A few years ago my boss thought it would be a good thing if my expertise in meteorology was acknowledged. He offered to pay the cost if I would obtain the Seal of Approval in Broadcast Meteorology from the American Meteorological Society. It would take a commitment on my part to complete a formal course of study to ‘legitimized’ my knowledge.

The best way to go about this was the Broadcast Meteorology program offered by Mississippi State University. I began classes in September 2002.

I am often asked if it’s an on-line program. The simple answer is, sort of. Lectures are given on DVD and video cassette. Tests, quizzes and access to teaching assistants is given on-line. There is a short trip to Mississippi required at the end of the 3 year program.

When I am finished, I will have 53 credits in meteorology and related subjects. The difference between this course and more traditional college meteorology programs is the math requirement. Here, it is fairly rudimentary with some statistics and algebra. In most other courses there is calculus involved.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Mississippi State specifically tailored this program to meet the AMS Seal requirements. Graduates of traditional programs often claim that the MSU program is inferior. However, for day-to-day broadcast meteorology, the MSU program is a magnitude order beyond what is needed.

I have often heard kvetching about how the MSU program cheapens the more traditional meteorology programs. And now, in an end around move, the AMS is changing the Broadcast Seal program in a way that will please the kvetches.

In a few years the AMS Seal will cease to be issued. Current holders (and hopefully I will be one by then) will be ‘grandfathered’ in.

Replacing the seal will be a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist program. The qualifications include passing a test and a degree in meteorology or equivalent. Right now, my guess would be that they will not consider the Mississippi State program equivalent, even though it requires more meteorology related subjects than most traditional programs.

This is a broadside aimed specifically at MSU. If this policy is enacted as proposed, the MSU program will quickly lose its reason for being.

I have been in touch with the director of the program at Mississippi State. A few weeks ago he seemed non plussed. Today I sense he is more concerned about what’s going on.

I have recommended that he make a personal presentation to the AMS boards which will make the final decision. A well thought out and prepared personal appearance might make a world of difference. He says that is his idea too.

Over one third of the broadcast meteorologists in the United States received their training from Mississippi State. Soon, I will too. I will have the qualifications for the AMS Seal late in the summer of 2005.