Date of Award

5-2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Communication and Information

Major Professor

Mark Harmon

Committee Members

Edward Caudill, Catherine Luther

Abstract

Weather is important to local television newscasts, so it is becoming important to expand research regarding this area. It is important to understand why certain people are chosen to present the weather on-air. Currently, three different kinds of degrees seem to be the choice for the people who are presenting the weather on television. On-air weather forecasters who work for the local affiliated stations of ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC networks tend to have degrees in meteorology, communications, or broadcast meteorology. Which one of these degree categories is preferred and why?

Two predictors come to the forefront to answer this question: severe weather and market size. Market size long has been a defined term due to the A.C Nielsen ranking of television markets in the United States from 1 to 210, then is grouped into categories of large, medium, and small. Severe weather is defined for this research as having the frequent occurrences of blizzards, tornados, or hurricanes.

Both severe weather and market size are statistically significant factors associated with the educational degrees on-air weather forecasters possess. Not only are they significant factors correlated with the degree type, they also show that different areas (calm vs. severe weather) may correlate with hiring people with certain types of degrees.

The threat of severe weather leads to local-affiliated television stations hiring more meteorologists to present weather on-air. Large markets and medium markets also are significantly more likely than small markets to use meteorologists to deliver the weather. The results of this thesis point to some important areas that describe the educational qualities of the on-air weather forecaster.

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