Robyn and I went to undergrad together at the University of South Alabama, and I have loved watching her career grow over the years. She offers great insight into the life of a broadcast meteorologist, as well as great advice!
Could you introduce yourself, and tell us a little bit about where you’re from?
Hello! My name is Robyn King, and I am a broadcast meteorologist. My fascination with weather began when I was very young in Cincinnati Ohio. Living in the Midwest you experience every form of weather so as a child I was never bored! I believe I was 5 or 6 is when I told my parents that I wanted to become a weather girl. Thankfully I didn’t become that, but something even better a meteorologist!
I remember sitting on the porch with my dad while storms rolled in and practicing my pointing at the Cincinnati Children’s museum ‘blue’ screen. When I was a little older, I would spend my snow days researching how to become a meteorologist. In 7th grade, I created the “Ultimate Guide On How To Become A Meteorologist” and it included the classes I needed in high school through college programs that offered the degree. Maybe I should publish my it into a How To book! HA HA =) Cincinnati is also known for great chili! My favorite is skyline chili!!
Can you describe your current position and tell us what a typical work day is like?
My current position is in my home state, Ohio. I work for a twenty four hour news and weather channel exclusively for Ohioians. We cover weather throughout the entire state which is different than local stations I have worked for in the past. When I accepted the job at Spectrum News 1 in Ohio, there wasn’t even a green screen built yet! I was hired before the channel even launched, it was brand new which was also different than my previous jobs!
Our weather format is called “Weather on the 1s” and it is similar to the popular Weather Channel’s local on the 8s except it is a person and not a computer reading numbers. It is a local forecast and includes local 7 days for all major cities throughout the state! We forecast for the entire state, but break it down into smaller zones that are aired locally. So Cleveland’s viewers will never see Cincinnati’s forecast but I create them both every morning along with all the other major cities.
Also Weather on the 1s is aired every ten minutes on the “1s” every hour throughout the day! It’s a lot of work on my end but it’s a brilliant idea because a viewer doesn’t have a wait for the 6am show to get their weather and news. It is literally grab and go! It’s not only more convenient but more modern and flexible than traditional local weather format.
My role is the morning meteorologist so I am in charge of seven different forecasts. It’s a busy shift and starts ridiculously early at 1:30 AM. I am at work no later than 2:30 AM, and am on air at 6 AM so giving me roughly 3 and half hours to forecast, produce my shows, and record the different weather hits. Plus there is updating the weather forecast online and our weather app.
Did you catch something in my previous paragraph? I said record the weather. Yes, majority of the weather hits are taped! It isn’t possible for me to be in every major city across the state at once does it? Technically I can and do but not LIVE. So I record at least 14 hits for every show, and update that show every few hours so the weather forecast is always fresh
We still have to go LIVE and when we do it is a statewide forecast. This is gives a unique look during severe weather. We go wall to wall during warnings and cover the entire state. So some days are long because we cover 88 counties. As a viewer though you can track the storms LIVE with us as they move into western Ohio through to eastern Ohio. You can’t get that local state cover on your local weather station. That gives more warning time for viewers too even if there storm isn’t close to them yet, they know that it could be as the storms develop.
We also do several LIVE updates during the day especially when there is something going on on the radar. With several LIVE hits during the morning, I have to time manage since I have to record weathers by 9AM. So that means updating my forecasts, updating graphics and working the new weather hits in between my LIVE ones.
And mentally it can sometimes be tricky to flip flop so quickly in between different cities and their varies forecasts! Once I said Columbus when I meant Cleveland! It’s a lot to juggle in your head which is why it is key for me to actually take the time and forecast for all of our major cities so I know what I am talking about! Some days I update the shows twice while others can be more times which can make for a long day but I really enjoy what I do and I work with some intelligent meteorologists.
Can you walk us through the steps that got you to where you are today?
Beyond my how to guide, I worked really hard through college. I went to the University of South Alabama and graduated in 2014. I took every opportunity to learn and grow, but I quickly realized that networking is how you will land the job. Eventually I had enough on air experience from college and other internships that I put together my first reel. In 2013-2014, YouTube was still newer so I put my weather reel up onto it. Little did I know that it would lead me to my first job. Out of the blue a chief from a town in Indiana saw my reel on YouTube, and contacted me. We set up an interview for a position in Terre Haute Indiana and before I knew it I was signing on the dotted line a few weeks before my college graduation. I was thrilled!
The best part about a small market with a local TV station in the middle of a corn field is that you learn A LOT! My chief, Jesse Walker was brilliant and very down to earth. And I was able to mature within my presentation but also my forecasting skills. I spent three years in Terre Haute, and will forever be grateful of that growing experience.
My next job was a much bigger risk, but I will never forget it! Nor did I think I would end up there! In 2017, I landed a job as a morning meteorologist and traffic anchor in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I spent about a year and half in the mecca of all things weather.
Just like my first job, I learned so much in a short about of time in OKC because of the nature of the market. It wasn’t as relaxed as Terre Haute, but instead everything was heightened and intense. There were almost 20 storm trackers within my TV stations Oklahoma network. These storm trackers were beyond talented and legends in the weather world. Most were storm chasers from the 80s and 90s before storm chasers were even a thing!
I remember walking into the station for the first time and almost started drooling over all the weather toys that the meteorologist had available, because it is unheard of in most local TV markets! We had our top notch radar, and more! It was basically the Weather Channel but in one TV station.
I worked long days because we would cover most of the state, and would do hours and hours of live coverage from storms, wildfires, ice storms, tornadoes…you name it and Oklahoma had it. Sometimes I would work the morning shift show from 4 AM until 10 AM then take a two hour nap then return to work to manage the radar for the chief from 2-3 PM when storms began to pop and continued until 10 PM at night. I would return home to sleep then be back at the 4 AM show the following morning. But those were the days that taught me the most, and made me realize this is why I am doing this….not to be on TV, but to communicate and educate the public about weather especially when it can be deadly. The goal is to help save lives.
My time in Oklahoma ended and by 2018 I was returning home to a job with a brand new TV. Talk about a risk! I felt so drawn to Spectrum because it was different and new.
The last two years at Spectrum have been a dream because I have been able to grow with the station. Being able to start from the beginning and create something from the ground up is a once and life time experience especially in my field. And I have become a stronger meteorologist because of it.
What is the best and most challenging thing about your job?
The older I have gotten the more I have learned it is all about work life balance. When you are first starting out in any job, you have to put in the long days, and crazy schedules, but now my job isn’t everything anymore. And that is not bad! In fact it is necessary so I don’t get burnt out in this industry which happens to so many young professionals.
Taking time off and enjoying life outside work makes me love my job even more, and it never feels like a job because I am still passionate about it!
Also the pay was awful when I first started…it took some time to actually make a decent living. That is going to be case at any TV station when you first begin. During my first job, I had a second job on the side in order to support myself and my bills!
What is one goal you are working towards right now?
In 2017, I was awarded my CBM. That was something I didn’t expect so early in my career. You have to work to maintain it but I am very proud of that seal because it means I am a certified meteorologist, and I worked hard to earn it.
Currently, my goal is to continue to improve my skills on air but also through writing. Spectrum News 1 just launched a new weather app so I am now responsible for writing in depth weather blogs. We try to write interesting weather topics each week in order to remain strong on the digital platform. That’s the thing nowadays you can’t just be on TV. You have to cover most platforms including social media so I am trying to grow my audience and engage with viewers as much as I can.
What are some things you do in your free time?
Oh my goodness I spend time with my adorable dog! My husband and I love walking him and taking him out to breweries when we can. Soon we will begin volunteering Louie as a therapy dog because he is so good with other people. And I would love to share his good nature and cuddles with people who need them!
What is the coolest experience you have had thus far in your career?
Probably watching and learning my weather legends in Oklahoma City! So the long days spent at the TV station tracking storms were some of the most exciting experiences I have had in my career!
BEFORE covid, I also love volunteering at community engagements! There is no better way to connect with your viewership and teach weather than going out into the community. I learned this early on in my career that it is important to take the time to interact and engage with people. Also teaching weather to 2nd – 5th grade is the best!
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
The most valuable advice one of my mentors in college gave me was “don’t sound like a meteorologist.” Speak to viewers like you are talking to your grandma or a good friend! The idea is to not sound or be any different on TV than you are in real life. Your tone should be conversational and calm.
Another word of advice was to always remember the passion. No job is perfect. No industry is perfect. I have had some awful things happen to me in my short career within the broadcasting business, and there was one occasion in particular that I thought everything was over. But I just remember and refocused my energy on why I do what I do and it made all the difference.
What advice do you have for others who want to be a broadcast meteorologist? Any tips specifically for females?
Get your degree in meteorology! It can be challenging with all the math and physics classes but once you get into the core meteorology classes it is so worth it. And it is essential to learn how to forecast properly…shout out the USA!
Also take the time to learn your craft in a small market if you can and don’t just take a job in a big market because it is a big market size. Make sure you like the station and more importantly the chief meteorologist! Money will come but it won’t come right away and may take a few jobs. Be prepared for the long days, and working most holidays, too.
And if things don’t work out in one job that’s okay because that means the next one will be even better!
For female meteorologist, way to go! You are not a weather girl, you are a meteorologist and don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise…seriously people will try even in 2020.
It is important to know your worth and fight for yourself. The internet is probably the meanest part of my job, but it is the hard truth. You will receive nasty and inappropriate comments, messages, and emails. I wish this wasn’t true but it is still a reality in our industry. I hope this changes for the younger generations, and it can/will if you know your worth and talent. You are more than something to look at, you are beautifully smart and gifted.