S110 Aspects of Broadcast Meteorology Unique to Students at the University of Oklahoma

Sunday, 6 January 2019
Hall 4 (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Jenna G Warner, The Oklahoma Weather Lab, Norman, OK; and N. M. Rhodes

The University of Oklahoma’s School of Meteorology has made great strides in developing a broadcast meteorology program that utilizes its environment to create a one of a kind experience. Our goal in presenting at AMS 2019 would be to showcase all of the incredibly unique opportunities available to our students. As of Fall 2018, OWL Broadcast consists of three separate sections: OKWX Live, OWL Broadcast, and OU Nightly.

Primarily known for its research programs, the University of Oklahomahas been able to successfully blend aspects of meteorology fieldwork with various forms of broadcast media. It all begins with the school being located in the heart of the National Weather Center. Here, broadcast students may take part in daily interactive forecasting discussions for the Oklahoma Weather Lab (OWL). The laboratory is located on the first floor as you walk through the main entrance of the National Weather Center. OWL is a one of a kind student organization that is primarily focused on forecast and operational meteorology. Twice a day, except for Saturdays, the group holds forecasting shifts from 8am-9am and 7-9pm. While morning shifts consist of a volunteer leader entering in their own forecast, the evening shift is made up of volunteer leaders taking time to teach other students about a topic in meteorology of which they are most comfortable, or inviting a speaker from inside the National Weather Center. Afterwards, attendees will forecast for the next three days in specific areas of Oklahoma through their forecasting account on our website. This forecast is later displayed on the OWL website, released across all of our social media accounts, and recorded on our campus radio station, KXOU StudiOU. Thanks to a unique partnership program, different students are chosen to read and record a separate forecast to be broadcastdaily on Island 106.9 FM in the Florida Keys.While this organization is obviously centered around forecasting, the broadcast media branch is growing quickly. OWL Director, Jenna Warner, and Deputy of Broadcast Media, Nash Rhodes, are taking full advantage of the room for growth within the forecasting based group.

OKWX Live, wielded by the Deputy Director of Media, gives broadcast students a shot at live severe weather coverage. When severe weather is forecasted to strike the region, students are able to sign up to delve into real time data. The other section is simply called OWL Broadcast. In this, any OWL member, regardless of broadcast affiliation or lack thereof, can record a short video describing a current weather event unfolding anywhere in the United States. The unique aspect about this section is that the videos put out can be as scientific as broadcaster wants, allowing them to target a more technical audience. Previous videos would require you to explain the scientific terminology used, but because of our unique new approach, these videos can be geared more toward the science of meteorology rather than just the aspect of mass communication. With that being said, communication is still of the utmost importance in OWL. This is reinforced with the third section of OWL Broadcast, outlined later in this abstract.

A huge catalyst in the broadcast meteorology boom at OU has been the addition of two Baron Lynx graphics systems. Students now have convenient access to professional graphics on campus that rival local television stations in quality. While one system is located in the Oklahoma Weather Lab at the National Weather Center, another is positioned closer to the main campus in Gaylord Hall.

Gaylord Hall houses the Gaylord College of Journalismand Mass Communication. The college has been boasted as one of the top ten journalism programs in the nation by TVWeekand the Radio Television Digital News Association(Terry). It is also home to the university’s award-winning newscast, OU Nightly. This student run program is regionally broadcasted live through COX Cable each weekday live at 4:30pm and aired again at 9:30pm. Short minute and a half ‘briefs’ are also filmed directly after the daily newscast and aired on COX at 5:30pm, 7:30pm, and 9:00pm to promote watching the full newscasts. Many meteorology students on OU Nightly have even been recognized regionally for their on-air talent at The South-Central Broadcasting Society. In conjunction, we have the third section of OWL Broadcast, otherwise known as OWL Media Shifts. Broadcast meteorology students get the exciting opportunity to forecast, create graphics, and present live televised forecasts, all on their own, with the guidance of faculty and staff. All of this gives them a real-world experience that many do not undergo until they are at their first on-air jobs.

Having a professional studio has also opened the doors to creating media outside the normal OU Nightly time slot. During home college football games at Gaylord Memorial Stadium, OU Nightly students get the chance to broadcast on the stadium’s dual jumbotrons. Thirty second forecasts are displayed that highlight the conditions fans will be experiencing following the game, as well as a two-day forecast. The final benefit that OU Nightly offers their on-air talent is access to studio time. Students have the opportunity to practice their broadcast skills throughout the week to prepare for OU Nightly on-air auditions. Every May and December, these tryouts are held by the faculty of OU Nightly as well as past legends in the broadcast industry. Participants are critiqued on their skills, advancing only the most talented individuals. This is ultimately the gateway into OU Nightly, and most of broadcast opportunities at the University of Oklahoma.

The combination of OWL, OU Nightly, and OWL Media Shifts allow students at the University of Oklahoma the advanced opportunity to build both confidence and competence through their college years, preparing them for successful careers in broadcasting and meteorology.

Works Cited

Robinson, Terry. “Top 25 Colleges for Journalism.” Degree Query. https://www.degreequery.com/best-journalism-schools/

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