How I got my first TV weather job?26 Oct , 2011 | 0
Getting your first TV weather job reminds me of sending kids to a private preschool. Usually the preschool is a feeder school into a private elementary school, which fees into a middle school, which feeds into a private high school, and then possibly an IVY league or top tier university.
Take for an example the California TV markets as part of the analogy; then preschool would be like Bakersfield or Eureka. Elementary school would be like Chico/Redding. Middle school would be in Santa Barbara, Fresno, or Salinas/Monterey. High school would be in Sacramento or San Diego, and the IVY league would be Bay Area or Los Angeles. Follow me so far?
So here’s what I did to get my first TV job: After getting my internship and tapes polished at CBS Sacramento and KTVU Fox 2 (See Doughnuts are control room’s best friend), I identified which markets I wanted to start in.
Personally, I wasn’t open to moving out of state, so I focused on two key smaller markets that were “elementary/middle school” feeders into the Bay Area—Chico and Monterey. I thought with my extensive internship experience and high level contacts at Bay Area and Sacramento stations, I could pull it off.
I contacted the News Director at the NBC/CBS affiliate in Chico to see if they had any weather openings. At the time, he said that he did not. I proceeded to tell him that I was going to be in the Chico area in a few weeks and asked if it would be cool to pop in and say hi. To be honest, I had no intention of “being in Chico” other than to meet with the News Director…I just wanted my foot in the door.
Then I looked at Chico’s competitors and noticed there was no weekend meteorologist in Redding (ABC affiliate). The main anchor just read the weather. So I decided to call the Redding News Director and inquire about a position. He said they could not afford a weekend weather anchor at the time. I told him I’d do it for free! He was speechless.
I just wanted the experience…at any cost. I mentioned I would be in the area in a few weeks (same time as when I would meet the Chico News Director) and he told me to come and meet with him. Just like that I had arranged two face-to-face meetings!
My first meeting with the Chico News Director went well. I gave him my weather tape in person…and chatted with him a bit about my career plans. The Chico News Director told me that he would keep me in mind for any future openings.
I then went to Redding, CA and spoke to the News Director there. I showed him my tape and told him that I’m ready to be his next weekend meteorologist! He said he would think about it.
A few weeks later, I called the Redding News Director to follow up and he said he would be interested in bringing me on board. However, he couldn’t legally have me work for free so he decided to pay me $50/day. It wasn’t a salary I could live on, but it was better than FREE.
I accepted the position and started training with the Chief Meteorologist at the Redding station. On day 3 of training, I got a surprising phone call:
It was from the Chico News Director! He said, “a position has opened up on the weekend…if you’re still interested, it’s yours”.
I was floored! Chico was more of a “college town” than Redding, it was closer to the Bay Area, and it was an “actual” position. Although it still paid only $10/hour , but it worth the experience I told the News Director in Redding of the opportunity and he completely understood. I walked into the Chico station and they hired me on the spot!
Moral of the story: Identify your target market…meet with the News Director…build relationships, work for dirt cheap, and show ‘em that you’re hungry! Plus it doesn’t hurt to have luck on your side, too!
P.S. I also understand that a lot of people cannot work for “free” or “$10/hour”. Therefore, my advice would be to supplement your TV gig with another part time job of any sorts. I was fortunate enough to have some help!