Watch Makers

charlieEvery now and then my supervisor will ask me a question about an impeding weather event.  Of course, I get all wound up and explain what is about to happen.  At some point she looks at me and says, “You know what I just heard was Charlie Brown’s teacher.” (Happily the other day, after many years, I finally used the “teacher” line on her as she tried to explain the new online time card system)

There is a difference between “watch makers” and “tell timers”.  When a tell timer asks you what time it is, they want to know the time…and that is it.  You can’t tell a tell timer about the cutoff low over the four corners and how the models, usually wanting to be progressive, will move that thing out early which will have an effect on the forecast timing downstream for the next several days, unless that upstream kicker can dig far enough south…..that is the answer for a watch maker.

Recently there was a spirited discussion on one of the backchannels about the almanac.  One camp was certain there was no need for it on TV anymore.  The other camp was certain that viewers would hang them in the town square if the almanac wasn’t part of the weathercast.

So who is right?  If your consultant tells you one or the other, question their data collection as it is likely a smooth average and not market specific.  The answer is everyone is right.

In the linear presentation of a newscast the viewers have no choice but to take what is given to them.  In the digital world of infinite choices users can find what they want, and will.  Our goal should be service the tell timers and the watch makers, and make it easy for them to find the answer they are looking for, not what we think they should have.

New data released this week suggests smartphones are now around 70% of the market.  It looks like Charlie Brown and his teacher can choose their own answer to, “Is it going to rain?”

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About Kevin Selle

Chief Meteorologist, KFDX-TV. Co-host, WeatherBrains.
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2 Responses to Watch Makers

  1. Nate Johnson says:

    Not exactly related, but my mom once described me by saying, “ask him what time it is, and he’ll build you a watch.”

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