All businesses are different in this regard, but I am friendly with my competitors. There are a few I’ve known for over twenty years… even one who sat on my lap when he was a little boy and I was Santa¹!
Because our professional interests are the same, we end up together from time-to-time. Such was the case last night when WFSB hosted a National Weather Service Skywarn seminar.
Skywarn is the NWS program to train laymen to spot severe weather. No matter how sophisticated our equipment gets, eyes on the ground are nearly always better. Skywarn is sometimes affiliated with ham radio, though not always.
At least a hundred folks, mostly men, assembled in a conference room at WFSB-TV’s new facility in Rocky Hill. Two meteorologists from the Weather Service’s Taunton, MA office
worked their way through a PowerPoint presentation, telling why and showing what severe weather is all about.
In the back of the room, a gaggle of meteorologists from Channels 3, 8, 30 and 61, stood and kibitzed. This was material we’d each seen many times and knew well. We were glad to be there… glad to see the public’s interest… but probably already well beyond the program’s level.
From time-to-time there is interstation criticism on forecast or warning decisions NWS makes. On a night this, it’s difficult to see anything but the dedication and passion these ‘government boys’ have. They do want to save lives.
As long as I was at the station, I asked for a quick tour. Mark Dixon, one of the meteorologists took me around. The facility is impressive.
The construction is new, so WFSB’s studios are designed to operate with a lot of computer assisted equipment.
Instead of three or four cameras rolling around the studio, there are eight, each at a fixed position. The control rooms are meant for smaller crews, without discrete audio or font operators. The working newsroom is large with clusters of desks and lots of monitors.
Though my station has dozens of monitors in the control room, the trend now is to digitally split immense flat panel screens, allowing them to show all the video. It saves space and eliminates heat. WFSB uses this concept in its control rooms.
Doesn’t that create a single point for catastrophic failure?
Our weather areas are similarly equipped and similarly in the studio. I couldn’t resist having my picture taken in theirs.
Kudos to WFSB for offering up their facility.
¹ – Ryan, if you’ve been scarred for life by that experience, my apologies.