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Broadcast Meteorology. How to Develop Alligator Skin in order to“Survive.”

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Wednesday, 26 June 2013: 3:30 PM
Broadcast Meteorology. How to Develop Alligator Skin in order to“Survive.”
Tulip Grove BR (Sheraton Music City Hotel)
David Aldrich, Local 8 Weather, Knoxville, TN

Broadcast Meteorology

How to develop alligator skin in order to “survive”

This was the strongest tornado to hit East Tennessee in nearly 9 years and happened about one month before the Super Tornado Outbreak of April 27, 2011 !

Greenback, TN Tornado, Wednesday night, March 23, 2011

EF-3 Tornado (max winds 140 mph)

Path Length 4.5 miles

Cutting into programming is a challenge every on-air meteorologist must face in their career. But what if that program is a viewer favorite, or worse yet, a season finale? Do you just run a crawl when your competition is going wall-to-wall? Apparently, all eyes are watching your station that night so you must choose wisely.

Let's face it, we all want to protect lives and property. When viewers like you, it is pretty easy. But doing what is right can sometimes be the most difficult thing in the world.

A tornado warning comes down for a small part of your viewing area and you must cut-in to Survivor, the Indy 500, a NFL game, Dancing with the Stars Finale, or The Masters.

How much is too much coverage?

Learning to “take the high road” and “kill ‘em with kindness” can be important tools to an on-air meteorologist who suddenly finds themselves on the ugly side of criticism.

At some point, it dawns on you that the professor who taught you "quasi-geostrophic theory" did not properly prepare you for these high drama decisions and consequences.

Suddenly, you realize that the people in the path of this storm, who are scared to death and are few in number, are far more important than the highly agitated viewers who ultimately can watch their T.V. show again online.

As a source for understanding, I decided to copy and paste some of the nasty Facebook comments that were recorded during the tornado warning and match them up to the “day after” destruction photos taken by our local newspaper. What you get is a revealing portrait of what is real and what is false. The phone call a producer takes: “A tornado in Greenback? Well, I don't live there, I live in Maryville, so can you just put my show back on?”

For example:

Facebook comment:

I give up, time to watch a different channel that waits for commercial breaks Wednesday at 9:06pm

Insert picture of house destroyed.

I have also learned the value of waiting 1 to 3 days before responding to e-mails. If you wait, you are more inclined to write something objective, rather than emotional.

Rick Pilkenton and his dog were inside his mobile trailer when the tornado hit flipping his home more than 30 feet. "I've been in the military. I've done a lot of things but this is the scariest thing I've been through," he said. "I'm thankful to be alive." RICK PILKENTON SAID HE WAS WATCHING “SURVIVOR” WHEN I CUT INTO PROGRAMMING.

Someday, you will have to cut-in. Will you be ready ?