Weather expert

The Weather Channel (United States)

The Weather Channel (also TWC) is a commercially-sponsored U.S. cable and satellite television network that broadcasts weather forecasts and weather-related news 24 hours a day. In addition to its cable TV programming, TWC also provides forecasts for terrestrial and satellite radio stations, newspapers, and websites, and maintains an extensive online presence at weather.com. The Weather Channel debuted its high-definition simulcast on September 26, 2007.

On January 3, 2008, it was reported that the family owned Landmark Communications, parent company of The Weather Channel, may be for sale. On July 7, 2008, NBC Universal announced plans on purchasing the channel and assets for $3.5 billion along with private equity firms The Blackstone Group and Bain Capital. The deal was made and closed on September 12th, 2008.

History

The Weather Channel was the brainchild of former WLS-TV Chicago chief meteorologist and Good Morning America forecaster John Coleman, who took his idea to Landmark's then-chief Frank Batten.

A major part of the plan for the new network was that it would be able to provide localized weather information to its viewers. This was done through WeatherSTAR units located at each cable company's headend. These WeatherSTARs were able to insert local conditions, forecasts, and warnings over the national feed.

The Weather Channel went on the air on May 2, 1982. The channel reports the weather and other meteorological information for the United States as well as other countries and regions of the world. TWC originally gathered its national region forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and gathered its local forecasts from local National Weather Service offices, but since 2002 has done local forecasting in-house from Atlanta. However, current weather and forecast model data is still provided by the NWS and NOAA, and the ultraviolet index and air quality index reports are from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The Weather Channel does not have any local meteorologists outside of the Atlanta area.

In May 2007, The Weather Channel celebrated 25 years on the air, the festivities including airing select past Weather Channel commercials and showing a special 25th anniversary logo during commercial breaks (see Logos section below for details).

In 2008, The Weather Channel was embroiled in scandal after rumors abounded about now former on-camera meteorologist Bob Stokes sexually harassing another former anchor, Hillary Andrews. Andrews filed a lawsuit through Cobb County district court against The Weather Channel alleging the abuse by Stokes (which included statements like "Will you lick my swizzle stick," and saying that 'TWC' "covered it up"). In May, 2008, Andrews won her lawsuit and was awarded an undisclosed amount of money. During the proceedings, it was revealed that Stokes' co-anchor before Andrews, Lisa Mozer, was also harassed.

Current

TWC uses special proprietary equipment that inserts local weather forecast and warning information if it is viewed on a cable TV system. The original WeatherStar technology has been upgraded on most cable systems to IntelliStar, including Vocal Local to announce the three-day local forecast. Satellite viewers see a roundup of local TWC forecasts for major cities across the U.S., as well as satellite and radar images, and severe weather watch and warning maps when active. For both cable and satellite viewers, smooth jazz music plays in the background during these segments.

The Weather Channel produces a service, based on modified versions of WeatherStar technology, called Weatherscan on which a separate channel constantly displays local and regional conditions and forecasts along with The Weather Channel's logo and advertisements.

The Weather Channel is headquartered in the Cumberland/Galleria area, immediately northwest of Atlanta, overlooking the "Cobb Cloverleaf" interchange from a high-rise in the Interstate North complex. TWC's sister channel in Canada is The Weather Network in English and MétéoMédia in French, which use similar technology that is currently in use in the USA. TWC also runs websites in Brazil (Canal do Tempo), the United Kingdom (Weather Channel), France (Météo 123) and Germany (Wetter 123). Apart from its stake in The Weather Network/MétéoMédia, TWC only runs their US channel, although it does air a forecast for international locations.

A definitive history of the network, The Weather Channel: The Improbable Rise of a Media Phenomenon, by Frank Batten and Jeffrey L. Cruikshank, was published by Harvard Business Press in May 2002, on TWC's 20th anniversary.

On July 6, 2008, NBC Universal, Bain Capital and Blackstone Group agreed to purchase The Weather Channel from Landmark Communications. Currently, NBC Universal owns NBC Weather Plus, a rival service carried by and featuring content from its local affiliates; that service announced its discontinuation three months later. Whether or not The Weather Channel will replace NBC Weather Plus on the approximately 90 digital affiliates that carried NBC's service has yet to be announced.

Overseas versions

Over the years, attempts to broadcast international versions of TWC (apart from Canada's The Weather Network/MétéoMédia and the Australian version of the Weather Channel) have failed. TWC also operates websites for online localized forecasts in Brazil, France, Germany, Latin America, and the United Kingdom, but some of these sites appear to have not been developed further since 2003. The Weather Channel also shares radar and forecasts with the Canadian Weather Network, particularly for the Weather Channel's Canadian forecasts.

  • A UK version of The Weather Channel ran from September 1, 1996 to January 30, 1998, when it was closed due to low viewership.
  • TWC also ran The Weather Channel Latin America, which operated in Spanish in Mexico, Puerto Rico and South America, this network ceased operations in December 2002. The service's three original anchors were Paola Elorza, Sal Morales and Mari Carmen Ramos who left the channel within a year of its launch and went on to work for Univision in Miami, Telemundo in Los Angeles and CNN International. At one point, there was also a Portuguese version in Brazil.

The Weather Channel logo

The Weather Channel's original and most recognized logo was a blue rectangular box that debuted on TWC’s first broadcast on May 2, 1982. This logo was revised in 1996, with the corners less rounded and the logo slightly flat (this is like a revised version of Burger King's logo when it happened in 1994). The URL text weather.com was permanently added underneath the logo in 1999. In August 2005, the logo was overhauled again; the blue rectangle’s corners are straight with no white trim on the edge and "The Weather Channel" text is now in title-case and left-justified, similar to the Weather Network in Canada. A 25th anniversary logo used in 2007 featured a white rectangle edged in blue connected to the current logo with "25 YEARS" inside it in blue.

Local on the 8s

See also:

The Local on the 8s (also known as the "Local Forecast" or "LOT8s") is the part of TWC's programming where viewers see the current conditions and local forecast for their respective area at times ending in "8" (e.g., 9:18).

Before this was implemented, the local forecast was seen about 8 times an hour at various times, depending on the time of day (more in the morning, less at night). The concept of Local on the 8s debuted in 1996, although it was initially implemented in mid-1995. TWC's Local on the 8s has confused some New York metro viewers and listeners into thinking it is owned by CBS Corporation, because WCBS-TV and WCBS AM have a similar slogan for TV and radio broadcasts called "traffic and weather on the 8s".

Any cable company that carries The Weather Channel can install a Weather STAR unit in a cable headend and receive the information, which is then shown to viewers via local insertion.

As of 2006, the majority of cable companies use the IntelliStar (the network's latest STAR system), which is capable of generating graphics for Weatherscan. IntelliStar cable viewers can see current weather conditions for their location and surrounding areas, weather forecasts, doppler radars of the region, almanacs (tidal information for most coastal locations), air quality conditions, and in larger media markets, traffic conditions supplied by Traffic Pulse (which in turn gathers such information in real time from various intelligent transportation systems operated by the department of transportation in various U.S. states). Some viewers also see forecasts for popular vacation destinations that are within "weekend getaway" driving distance. The IntelliStar supersedes and coexists with the various computer models introduced by the Weather Channel. The first three WeatherStar versions were discontinued. The Weather Star Jr. uses the text mode common to the older machines but with the typeface of the WeatherStar 4000. The 4000 produces graphical local forecasts (the first model to do so), but has largely disappeared from both large and small markets; the 4000 also was the first model to have detailed, modernized radar. The XL, introduced in 1999, was a major leap forward at its launch in terms of its capabilities and was the first system adapted to the Weatherscan service.

Due to the unique circumstances involving satellite television, things are different for its viewers. During this time, the segment includes hourly forecasts for 20 major cities, three-day forecasts for 40 U.S. cities, satellite loops and composite radars of the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Northwest, and Southwest, respectively. At :18 and :48 after the hour, the Northwest and Southwest satellite/radars are replaced by one showing the entire West.

DirecTV viewers do see an IntelliStar-generated "lower third" graphic at all times except during television commercials. This cycles through current conditions (sky and temperature only) and today or next-day forecasts for major U.S. cities, as well as major airport delays. As of November 8, 2006, Dish Network viewers are now able to view local weather conditions and radar on The Weather Channel on DISH HOME Channel 100, based on their billing ZIP code, along with access to weather in other cities.

It is noted that during The Weather Channel's "Storm Alert" mode, specifically when a dangerous hurricane prepares to make landfall, the number of local forecasts seen throughout the hour is reduced from six times to four - :18 past the hour, :28 past the hour, :48 past the hour, :58 past the hour.

Music

The Weather Channel released its own smooth jazz CD in 2007, The Weather Channel Presents: The Best of Smooth Jazz, based on collections of popular music played on the "Local On the 8s" segments. It peaked at #1 on Billboard's Top Contemporary Jazz charts in the same year. Artists included on this CD are Joyce Cooling, Dave Koz, Paprika Soul, Four 80 East, Jeff Lorber, Pieces of a Dream, Chick Corea, Jeanne Ricks, Ryan Farish, Mark Krurnowski, Najee, 3rd Force. In 2008, their second compilation CD containing their most requested music was released, titled The Weather Channel Presents: Smooth Jazz II. Artists on this CD include Russ Freeman & The Rippingtons, Jeff Lorber, Ramsey Lewis Trio, Bradley Joseph, Bernie Williams, David Benoit, Spyro Gyra, Norman Brown, Chris Geith, Joe Sample, Charlie Parker Quartet, and Eric Marienthal.

Other artists that can be heard during this segment include the Network Music stock music service, Trammell Starks (who composed several tracks specifically for The Weather Channel which are used in case of backup needs or outages), The Rippingtons, Moby, EKO, Shadowfax, Chris Camozzi, Scotty Ward, and Kent Marcum.

Instrumentals performed by bands such as The B-52's (Follow Your Bliss), Derek and the Dominos (the Layla piano exit), and the Allman Brothers Band (Jessica) can also be heard during this segment.

The Weather Channel suspends the music during local forecasts. when a hurricane approaches the United States coastal areas and airs the "Storm Alert" music during the Local on the 8s. They aired a new "2008 Storm Alert Theme" music for Hurricane Gustav.

Radio and newspaper presence

The Weather Channel provides forecasts for both the Sirius and XM satellite radio services in the United States. Both services run regional forecasts on one station and have a block of combined local weather and traffic stations for major metropolitan areas.

TWC also has content partnerships with a number of local radio stations in the USA to provide local forecasts, using announcers separate from the TV service. For some affiliates, TWC actually provides a limited amount of live coverage during local severe weather (with the Georgia-based announcers connected via ISDN). Similarly, TWC also provides weather reports for a number of US newspapers, including a half-page national forecast for USA Today.

Online services

TWC provides numerous customized forecasts for online users, including home and garden and event planning forecasts. They also provide WAP access for mobile phone users, desktop widgets for quick reference by computer users, and customized weather feeds for individual websites. They follow a two-tiered service model, with the free service bearing advertisements and their pay ("Desktop Max") service lacking ads and having enhanced radar and mapping functions. Cell Phone customers can even have their local forecast sent to their mobile handsets from TWC for a fee via SMS by sending a text message with their ZIP code to 42278 which spells 4cast. Other services include Yahoo!, in which the weather pages are produced by TWC.

2007 global-warming controversy

The web site Capital Weather published an interview with WJLA meteorologist Brian van de Graaff. In this interview, Mr. van de Graaff stated:

Global warming was voted the #1 in 100 Biggest Weather Moments.

On December 21, 2006, Dr. Heidi Cullen reacted to this by posting "Junk Controversy not Junk Science" in a blog on The Weather Channel's web site. In her blog, Dr. Cullen reacted by stating:

While the anthropogenic view of global warming is aligned with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the position of decertifying or censuring dissenting meteorologists was perceived as a call to marginalize or silence opposing opinions. Cullen's position was derided by a large portion of her blog's responders as politically motivated. Responders included AMS meteorologists who also attacked her position, in particular James Spann a TV meteorologist in Alabama who also runs a weather/climate blog on his site and disagreed with Dr. Cullen's position. In a follow up blog entry "A Very Political Climate", Dr. Cullen and The Weather Channel denied any political motivation.

TWC HD

On September 26, 2007, DirecTV launched a 24-hour simulcast of The Weather Channel in high definition. At this time, no programming was actually presented in high definition, except for a national "satellite" version of the Local On The 8s. On October 1, 2007, two new high definition programs, "Epic Conditions" and "Weather Ventures" premiered. A new high definition series, "When Weather Changed History" premiered on The Weather Channel on January 6, 2008.

Throughout the final months of 2007 to the early months of 2008, various cable companies had started to add The Weather Channel HD to their cable lineups, including the Boston, MA, Austin, TX, San Antonio, TX, and Baton Rouge, LA markets. The Weather Channel in High Definition was added to DISH Network systems on May 13, 2008. Recently, Comcast began adding the channel in some select markets like Chicago, IL. Time Warner Cable and Cablevision, both of which serve New York Metropolitan Area have also recently picked up the HD channel on late July 2008, The Standard Definition channel remains on many channel lineups for cable suscribers for more localized forecasts during "Local On The 8s", as the WeatherStar and IntelliStar feeds are not yet available on the HD channel.

The very first live broadcast of The Weather Channel in high definition came on June 2, 2008 in a new studio facility built next to the current one. Dubbed the "Studio of the Future", it is powered by Cisco Systems technology that is entirely eco-friendly, echoing its commitment to the environment via the Forecast Earth initiative. The HD re-launch was completed in Mid August 2008. Currently, TWC's entire programming schedule is broadcast in HD with the exception of long-form programs It Could Happen Tomorrow and Full Force Nature.

Current programming

Forecasting programs

  • First Outlook - straight-foward forecasts for business people, commuters, and travelers.
  • Your Weather Today - updated forecasts, highway conditions and travel delays.
  • Day Planner - forecasts for middle america and the west coast.
  • Weather Center - national weather and pratical tips on gardening, home repair, sports and outdoor activites. Airs separate weekday and weekend editions.
  • PM Edition - A look at current forecasts, what happened today, what the evening holds in store and how it all looks for tomorrow. Airs separate weekday and weekend editions.
  • Abrams And Bettes: Beyond The Forecast - features live weather reports from the nation's hotspots along with forecasts, analysis and animation.
  • Evening Edition - provides current forecasts and the science behind weather events. Airs Primetime and West Coast editions.
  • Sunrise Weather - Early morning weather forecasts.
  • Weekend Outlook - A look ahead at the coming weekends weather conditions.
  • Weekend View - Meteorologists inform the public of the weather forecast for the weekends to give them a heads up on the appropriate activities for their weekend fun.
  • Weekend Now - Meteorologists inform the public of the current weekend weather conditions and circumstances.

Long-form programs

Current personalities

On-camera meteorologists

Other personalities

  • Dr. Greg Forbes (Severe Weather Expert) - Greg studied violent weather at the University of Chicago. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy there and studied under the scientist who devised the Fujita scale.
  • Danny Lipford (Home Improvement Expert) - Danny came to TWC in 2000 with a history as a home remodeling expert and provides tips on home improvements in short segments shown throughout the week.
  • Bill Nye (Forecast Earth Contributor) - Bill is known for his many talents. He's worked as a stand-up comedian, but his contributions at The Weather Channel are more closely related to his in-depth knowledge of science, math, and engineering topics. Nye holds a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University and was awarded honorary doctorate degrees by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Goucher College, and The Johns Hopkins University.
  • P. Allen Smith (Gardening Expert) - Smith brings his love of perennials and garden design to short segments on TWC. He is also seen on other television shows where he passes on details of gardening and nursery topics. He majored in garden history and design at the University of Manchester in England.

Notable alumni

Slogans

  • "We Take The Weather Seriously, But Not Ourselves" (1982–1984)
  • "Weatherproofing America" (1984–1986)
  • "You Need Us, The Weather Channel, For Everything You Do" (June 1986–March 1991)
  • "Weather You Can Always Turn To" (March 1991–March 1996)
  • "No Place on Earth Has Better Weather" (March 1996–March 1998)
  • "Live By It" (June 2001–August 15, 2005) (also currently used in Australian version)
  • "Bringing Weather to Life" (August 15, 2005–February 2008) This slogan is still used on weather.com
  • "The Weather has Never Looked Better" June 2, 2008–present (also slogan for HD broadcasting)

Hurricane and winter coverage slogans

  • "Hurricane Central" (August–October 2005)
  • "Keeping You Ahead of the Storm" (used occasionally since the late 1990s)
  • "Your Hurricane Authority" (October 2005-January 2006, June 2008-present)
  • "The Winter Weather Authority" (2006-2007 winter season)
  • "The Hurricane Authority" (2006 and 2007 season)

See also

Notes

External links

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