Former Weather Channel Staffers Finding New Homes in Local News

While The Weather Channel has been cutting staff and doing a lot less weather than when they started, former staffers are finding new gigs in local news.

Broadcasting and Cable writes that when Don Pratt, WCBD Charleston VP and general manager, was searching for a new news director, one candidate’s credentials stood out. Besides the more traditional station experience, including majormarket producing stints and an assistant news director post at WLOS Asheville, Brian Luhn had been a producer at The Weather Channel. In a coastal market prone to hurricanes and tornadoes, such experience was undeniably attractive.

“The No. 1 thing viewers want from their stations here is weather,” says Pratt. “Brian was out in the field; he knew and understood how to go about deploying crews successfully and safely. That was tremendously important.”

Luhn is one of a handful of Weather Channel alums who have landed in key management positions at TV stations of late. On November 10, Weather Channel VP of live programming Jennifer Rigby was named news director at WXIA-WATL Atlanta. In September, Jesse Hamilton shifted from executive producer of primetime at Weather to exec producer at WLS Chicago. Jennifer Graves, WLS VP and news director, called him a “whiz” at showcasing, breaking coverage and social media.

Going back further, Helen Swenson, former Weather Channel senior VP of live programming, moved to general manager at LIN Media’s WIAT Birmingham in late 2013 (FIRST reported by FTVLive).

The moves indicate the important role weather news continues to play for local TV viewers. While they can receive weather updates from any number of national outlets, a substantial number still prefers to get them from veteran meteorologists in their market. “It’s still the local station people who give you perspective that other people don’t, that your app doesn’t,” says Laura Clark, senior VP at consulting firm Frank N. Magid Associates. “There’s a lot of value in people who live in the community and know which way the weather goes.”