A Weather Primer for the Morning Executive Producer
In a world where the fastest growing weather consumption is on mobile, the morning Executive Producer’s role (as well as the morning meteorologist) is to create an environment and convey to the viewer that your weathercasts are there to help them plan their day as they get ready to head out the door. These nuances and the expertise is something the viewer cannot get from an app.

With the weather changing more often and its impact on the commuter playing a bigger role on a daily basis, it is important for morning newscasts to constantly evolve and augment what the viewer sees on their digital device in the morning. The key to understanding viewers’ very high interest in morning weather is to understand that they are looking to you to help them plan their day….in a language they can clearly understand. Yes, it can still be detailed, precise weather information….but it has to be about clearly helping the viewer to understand how weather will unfold throughout the next 12 hours.

The morning Executive Producer also needs to understand that morning weather needs are very different than early evening and late news weather needs. You do NOT want to produce a 6 p.m. weathercast at 6 a.m. Be precise in letting viewers know what is about to happen and how it will impact their day.

Do not confuse “telling the weather story” as if it is something that has happened. Think of “telling the weather story” as to what is going to happen. Stay forward focused. Drive viewers to the forecast.

Morning Executive Producers do not need a meteorology degree to know when a morning weathercast is delivering on the needs of the viewer. A practiced and knowledgeable understanding of what your research says about morning weather should provide you with the details to know if your morning meteorologist or team is creating and delivering the right weather product.

Here is a sort of checklist of what to look for in your morning weathercasts. All these ideas come straight from research. Use them to mold, evolve and differentiate your weathercast from your competitors.

Morning Weather Checklist
Morning weathercasts bring out the best opportunity to attract viewers to your newscast while at the same time risk sending them to your competitor or simply to turn off the TV. Local news viewers would like to see a local forecast within the first 5 minutes of waking up in the morning. The good news is most morning newscasts have at least a dozen to 14 weather hits each and every morning.

Your challenge is to still engage the viewer after they have seen four or five of those weather hits. While weather is the number one reason to watch morning news – it is also the number one cause of repetition in the morning. And nothing says repetition in weather more than the same looking graphics in the same order for more than 10 hits in a row.

Did you know that the weather data received by most of your weather systems only changes once every three hours? So it is possible to go through an entire morning show with no new weather data coming into your weather center. As an Executive Producer – you should know if the data is not going to change – then the presentation of that data has to change. Here are some things to look for:

The most important morning weathercast element is the Daypart Forecast. What is going to happen weather-wise in the next 12 hours? This should be your focus. It should consist of up to four times of the day that viewers will interact with the weather. Those four times of the day:

  • 7 a.m. – The morning commute. Weather’s impact on traffic is of significant importance to a viewer about to walk out the door. Be specific as to what type of precipitation is falling. Are the roads wet? If so, the viewer is going to need more time to get to work. Don’t be afraid to say that.
  • Noon – the Lunch hour. Will the viewer need an umbrella to go out to lunch to- day? Is this a good day to bring your lunch and stay indoors? Or will there be brilliant sunshine and viewers should be looking for a dining table outside?
  • 3 p.m. or 4 p.m. – The reason to double up here is it allows your morning met to talk about what the weather is going to be like when the kids get out of school. The 4 p.m. time period gets people thinking about road conditions and weather for the commute home.
  • 7 p.m. – The Social hour. If your viewers are planning social events, dining out, going to the theatre, going to a ballgame, etc. This is the fourth daypart to talk about.

If these four parts of the day represent the most important forecast in the morning – I think you can make a good case that the Radar is the most important image to show each morning. Obviously, local TV stations have done a great job of teaching viewers how to read a radar and what the various colors mean. But on those mornings when the range of weather runs from downpours to pop up showers – that’s when you need to put your radar through its paces. Always look for a reason to zoom in on the radar to where the disruption is happening. And keep in mind that the viewer is most interested in their morning commute or getting the kids to school. Even on sunny days, zooming into a high school football stadium on a Friday morning shows the power of your radar.

The goal with morning weather should be to deliver the most important information to help that viewer plan their day without being repetitive. One way to do this is to create a series of themed graphics that look different from morning weathercast to weathercast while delivering the same information (remember the data isn’t likely to change). Most of you already do a Bus Stop forecast but there are other ideas like a commuter’s forecast, using your mobile app to display the forecast, Hour by Hour Forecast, Out the Door Outlook, etc.

The remainder of the morning weathercast should focus on delivering more detail – especially for the next 12 hours but extending out to about 24 hours (especially if change is on its way). Go ahead and spend time on what is happening now – but don’t forget to help that morning viewer look forward to what will be happening later in the day.

The production elements, tonality and especially the meteorologist’s language need to reflect the morning sensibilities. What is it that viewers need to hear to help them better plan their day. Do they need to leave the house early? How do they dress the kids? Make sure your morning meteorologist is showing AND telling the answers to these questions.

Look for additional Weather Checklists for other dayparts in the Weather folder of our Blog.