Apr. 19, 2013  

We The Journalists: Steve Weagle

Chief Meteorologist Steve Weagle is no stranger to social media. The Nova Scotia-native works hard to incorporate pictures, tweets and comments from viewers while telling them what to expect outside. Weagle has worked for WPTV since 1998. Before coming to South Florida, he worked for the CTV and with the Weather Service.

By Lynn Walsh

WPTV_STEVE_WEAGLEWhen he isn’t tweeting or letting South Florida know about the next big storm heading to the area, he is actively volunteering in the community. The American Red Cross and The Palm Beach Literacy Coalition are two organizations that are near and dear to his heart. Follow Weagle on Twitter or like him on Facebook.

SPJ SoFla: What’s one part of your job that most folks don’t realize you do?

Steve Weagle: Social media has made this job 24/7. I post weather updates non-stop day and night. And those meteorologists who don’t will soon be left out in the cold.

What is one career highlight that sticks out to you?

Hurricane Frances. The weather Superbowl. It was a true team effort where everything clicked.

A Lowlight?

Hurricane Irene in 1999. It was a learning experience. We were too confident it was going to hit Tampa. You learn from every hurricane coverage event. And management made the mistake of not deciding whether to run the World Series game or cover a hurricane. Today the decision would be easy. You cover weather.

What is the most frustrating part of your job now?

Using social media efficiently in severe weather coverage. At least one meteorologist needs to be dedicated to social media updates. Getting news from Facebook and Twitter is not the future, it’s now! It’s amazing how many meteorologists don’t realize that.

What is the most fun part of your job?

Live weather remotes at events. Especially small community events that are so appreciative for the publicity.

What is one piece of advice you wish you could surgically implant into college students and young professionals?

I’ll steal a line from Ron Burgandy. Stay Classy. Don’t try to get attention with social media gimmicks like Harlem Shuffle videos on the news set and goofy photos of yourself on Facebook. It’s a credibility killer. If they don’t take you seriously they won’t watch or follow you in the future.

Weather is a very important part of every newscast. Do you feel the pressure to get it right every day? If you get it wrong – what’s the reaction like from people? Is it anything like in the movie The Weatherman?

Yes, I’ve had a few Nicholas Cage moments on the street. Facebook and Twitter can be unforgiving, too. The great thing is that you can redeem yourself quickly with a blown forecast by getting the next one right.

Throughout March, April, May and June, SPJ South Florida Pro will feature Q&As every Friday with South Florida’s most prominent journalists. Want to see someone featured? Want to join SPJ? Email us.

Lynn Walsh is the Vice President of Programs for SPJ South Florida Pro. Follow her on Twitter.

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