It's been three years since Weather Underground (WU) became part of The Weather Company (AKA The Weather Channel, TWC). A key goal of mine for the merger--to make both Weather Underground and The Weather Channel better--has shown steady progress over the past few years, and takes an even larger step in that direction beginning on August 24, with the launch of the "Weather Underground" live cable TV show airing weekdays from 6-8 p.m. ET on The Weather Channel. The new show will appeal to everyone’s inner weather geek, featuring unique insights into the science behind weather and forecasting. I flew down to Atlanta last week to tape some segments for the new show, including what should be a pretty amusing series of promos (Part 1 embedded below). TWC is really making an impressive effort on this, complete with a custom set built to look like an underground bar, an original theme song of Seattle-grunge type music, and state-of-the art 3D visual presentations. Both Bob Henson and I will be appearing via Skype (and occasionally live in the studio) during some of the shows, but the show will also tap into the expertise of other severe weather experts, through forecast debates, deep dives into atmospheric science and live storm coverage. Each show will aim to promote a unique feature of the Weather Underground web site, like the latest blog post by Bob or myself, WunderPhotos, or personal weather stations. Breaking weather events will be the main focus, but climate change stories will also be featured.
WU’s unique community of personal weather station owners and fans will play an integral role in the show’s live, interactive experience--fans will be able to submit questions via #WUTV across social media, report current conditions in their area, contribute to the creation of show segments, access behind-the-scenes live-stream video via wunderground.com and participate in weather roundtables live on air.
Video 1. I give Mike Bettes a tough grilling during his interview for host of the new Weather Underground TV show. This is Part 1 of what may be up to an 8-part series.
After a lengthy interview process last week, it was decided that the show would be hosted by Mike Bettes, an Emmy Award-winning meteorologist and storm tracker. You can see part of the interview in the video clip above. Not shown is the part that almost blew it for him (which will be aired in a later installment of this series.) You see, Weather Underground's origin came as an educational project at the University of Michigan, where I was a Ph.D. student in the early 1990s. It turns out that Michigan has a pretty notorious rivalry with a certain Big Ten school based in Columbus, Ohio. Here's the transcript of this portion of the interview:
Me: "Mike, when we launch the show, we want to make sure we've selected a host that's fully qualified for the role. Do you mind if we go over your resume?"
Mike: "Not a problem!"
Me: "It says here that you graduated from Ohio State University."
Mike: "Yes sir. I got my degree in Atmospheric Science from the Ohio State University. Go Bucks!"
Me (skeptically): "Hmmm…and that's an accredited university??"
Mike (incredulously): "Well…yeah, of course!"
Mr. Bettes really did graduate from Ohio State, and has gone on to do some excellent coverage of landfalling hurricanes and severe weather outbreaks since he began working at TWC in 2003--including such events as the 2011 Joplin tornado and the 2013 El Reno tornado. I am very excited to see this new Weather Underground show launch, and think it will be a great dive deep into the science of meteorology for all weather enthusiasts.