The Weather Crutch By Andy Meadows

As a consultant who coaches air talent on creating better airchecks, and previously as a programmer who hired talent for twenty years, I’ve gone through literally tens of thousands of airchecks. Going through that many airchecks there are multiple takeaways, but one thing that stands out is this, jocks who have a weather forecast on their aircheck probably don’t prep enough. An aircheck is a greatest hits sample and if reading the weather is one of our greatest hits, that’s not a good sign. 

For far too many on-air personalities weather has become a major crutch. I get it, we’re always being told to be more ‘local’ and weather is certainly local. It’s topical, relevant and something everyone cares about. However, its also easily accessible on the smart phones we all have in our pockets and hence not as important as it used to be. I’m not saying we shouldn’t mention the weather on air, we should, but not more than once or twice an hour tops and just the highlights. ‘Sunny and 74, high of 95 later’ and only going into more detail if its something out of the ordinary (For instance how the west coast has been deep frying lately.) All of that goes out the window of course in a weather emergency, where local radio should still shine. 

Weather isn’t content, its filler for a lack of content. Case in point, what’s the default thing we talk about with a stranger we have nothing in common with? The weather. If that’s all we have in common with our listeners, especially our P1s, then we have a major problem. 

Our goal on air should be to come up with on air content that’s tease-able, can be turned into phone topics, shared on the website and social pages, carried over into other breaks to increase TSL and ultimately turned into conversation starters for our listeners to engage with their friends/family/coworkers. Every second we spend reading the weather on air is a second we’re not creating that kind of content. 

If we properly prep for a show then it should be so hard to fit the weather in that it gets pushed to the corners and fit in quickly and concisely, not prominently featured throughout the hour. 

What do you think, how important is a weather forecast in today’s radio climate and how should it be delivered? Comment below or email me at andy@radiostationconsultant.com. 

Pic designed by janoon for www.freepik.com.

3 comments

  • Brent
    Brent Wenatchee, Wa.
    Disagree to an extent. Here in the central part of Wa. State, we deal with the specter of wildfires throughout the summer. We have one burning now on the outskirts of town. The weather is very important to us at this time. Especially conditions like thunder storms (that are quite common) and the winds that make a firefighter's job which is already wrought with danger, even tougher.

    Disagree to an extent. Here in the central part of Wa. State, we deal with the specter of wildfires throughout the summer. We have one burning now on the outskirts of town. The weather is very important to us at this time. Especially conditions like thunder storms (that are quite common) and the winds that make a firefighter's job which is already wrought with danger, even tougher.

  • Mike Saffran
    Mike Saffran Rochester, N.Y.
    In saying the weather is “easily accessible on the smart phones we all have in our pockets and hence not as important as it used to be” (unquestionably true), aren’t you really arguing over a programming-level (not individual jock-level) decision? That said, you’re also suggesting that the DJ shouldn’t choose to include, on their demo — which should be a showcase of their talent — an aircheck of the jock reading the weather. While I get the point you’re trying to make (and I agree: the demo should be a “greatest hits” showcase your best stuff, essentially), another side of the argument could be: If the DJ is applying for a position on, for instance, a full-service AC (where jocks are expected to read the weather forecast), maybe he or she wants to show the hiring PD (who might actually care) how well the DJ reads the weather (and whether it’s concise, like your example — “sunny and 74”). Of course, if it’s wordy and superfluous — including words such as “high,” “low” and “degrees”; wind speeds; and precipitation percentages — it’s a good sign the jock isn’t well-trained (thus, good for the hiring PD to know … but decidedly bad for the DJ trying to get hired). Yes, the weather forecast can be a “crutch.” But a *concise* weather forecast, *including current temperature,* might also say (subtly to the listener, overtly to a hiring PD): This was *live* — not VT’ed (and there could be some value, on a demo, in that, too). So, I think your original post is simply too broad for a single post: “how important is a weather forecast … and how should it be delivered” is one potentially useful topic; what should, or should *not* be included on a demo/aircheck, is another.

    In saying the weather is “easily accessible on the smart phones we all have in our pockets and hence not as important as it used to be” (unquestionably true), aren’t you really arguing over a programming-level (not individual jock-level) decision?

    That said, you’re also suggesting that the DJ shouldn’t choose to include, on their demo — which should be a showcase of their talent — an aircheck of the jock reading the weather. While I get the point you’re trying to make (and I agree: the demo should be a “greatest hits” showcase your best stuff, essentially), another side of the argument could be: If the DJ is applying for a position on, for instance, a full-service AC (where jocks are expected to read the weather forecast), maybe he or she wants to show the hiring PD (who might actually care) how well the DJ reads the weather (and whether it’s concise, like your example — “sunny and 74”). Of course, if it’s wordy and superfluous — including words such as “high,” “low” and “degrees”; wind speeds; and precipitation percentages — it’s a good sign the jock isn’t well-trained (thus, good for the hiring PD to know … but decidedly bad for the DJ trying to get hired).

    Yes, the weather forecast can be a “crutch.” But a *concise* weather forecast, *including current temperature,* might also say (subtly to the listener, overtly to a hiring PD): This was *live* — not VT’ed (and there could be some value, on a demo, in that, too). So, I think your original post is simply too broad for a single post: “how important is a weather forecast … and how should it be delivered” is one potentially useful topic; what should, or should *not* be included on a demo/aircheck, is another.

  • Andy Meadows
    Andy Meadows Fort Worth, TX
    All good points Mike and Brent, thanks for your feedback! Yes, I agree it's a programming-level decision on how/where to schedule weather but it's an individual's decision on whether to include it in their aircheck and I'd suggest leaving it out. There's such a limited amount of time to showcase a DJ's talent in an aircheck, as they're competing with every other aircheck in the inbox, so every second is critically important. Also, as I audit air talent across the country I still hear a lot of them doing the weather more than it's scheduled as filler for their lack of prep. I like your suggestion for a deeper dive though Mike and that's probably a better way to approach it then how I did in this blog. Thanks! -Andy

    All good points Mike and Brent, thanks for your feedback! Yes, I agree it's a programming-level decision on how/where to schedule weather but it's an individual's decision on whether to include it in their aircheck and I'd suggest leaving it out. There's such a limited amount of time to showcase a DJ's talent in an aircheck, as they're competing with every other aircheck in the inbox, so every second is critically important. Also, as I audit air talent across the country I still hear a lot of them doing the weather more than it's scheduled as filler for their lack of prep.

    I like your suggestion for a deeper dive though Mike and that's probably a better way to approach it then how I did in this blog.

    Thanks! -Andy

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