Until I started thinking about the local weather casts the past few days, I really didn't realize how different the main weather guys are, but on the other hand I think there is at least one weather caster at the three stations in Wichita to meet most people's preferences. My preferences for a weather guy will be different than other people. Weather is probably one of those hot button topics that everyone has an opinion of what they want to see in a weather guy. My idea of the perfect weather person, doesn't exist in Wichita. I like a weather person to be serious when they need to be, but still have that zaniness scientist quality that makes the weather world sort of wacky. The person that meets these specs closest to me would be KSN morning meteorologist Mark Bogner. He seems as just a guy that has the passion for weather, but at the same town won't talk down to viewers and seems like a guy I would want to talk weather with over a round of beers. I was going to rank the 3 channels' weather, but I think it is too hard to do, because they are pretty close when you get down to it. Many may disagree with the last statement, but once you get past your own preferences in a weather caster I think you'll see they are pretty even. I'll break down the station's weather coverage listed in numerical order by channel number.
KSN 3 - With the 3 degree guarantee, and the "Dave said it would," KSN News is probably branded more on the name of Dave Freeman than any other personality or phrase KSN has. With that said, I think they lead off with their best on camera meteorologist early in the morning with Mark Bogner. As I have said before he comes across real genuine and like a real nice guy. National consultants may take a look at all the talent at KSN and say Mark wouldn't be their choice, but I think they'd be missing what Kansans want.
At Noon, Leon Smitherman does a good job. As much as I think he has a delivery and style that are top notch, it may not be as favorable for Kansas. I like his style and think he shows a big market flare, but with the passion of weather Kansans have I think they would prefer to hear it more from a guy like Bogner. With that said, Smitherman I think in the future should be a key player at KSN. One commenter said he should be moved to main news anchor. I disagree with that, but I think Leon is too good to leave him at Noon. The station uses him in other ways, doing Wednesday's Child and he shows his versatility in that. Like I dubbed him earlier he is a Swiss Army Knife, able to do weather, news stories, and even do a far better job anchoring the 5PM show than the current anchor. Honestly, I think Leon is overqualified to be just doing Noon, but where to place him is a difficult question.
KSN's back-up back-up meteorologist Andrew Kozak I think needs to be careful. At times he reminds me of a junior Dave Freeman. He can get too serious much of the time and sometimes appear as if he talks down to the viewers. Part of his problem might be he looks young. I know that is a sad reason, but that may be it.
Friends, as for Dave, he certainly is the most passionate weatherman in the market. Many may think he cries wolf. I think those saying that may be too critical of him. I think his delivery and style make it appear that way far often than it may actually happen. Going into this Dave wouldn't rank too high in my book, but as I think about it more, I am of the belief you really cant fault a guy for being very passionate for a subject like weather, which can in fact kill at times.
Upsides: Dave's passion, Mark Bogner, Leon's "Swiss Army Knife" flexibility, and 3 degree guarantee for charity.
Downside: Lack of in the field trained, experienced spotters during actual storms. I know the information is critical from radars and everything, but I think KSN could stand to give Dave a chance to catch his breath for a few seconds and go to trained experienced spotters in the field. I am not talking about reporters thrown out in the field and have no idea what you are referring to when you say cumulonimbus or up-draft. Exceptions at KSN would be reporters Anne Meyer and Chanda Brown who if given the opportunity to do it more and get into the right positions could be very good on-air spotters. Maybe like other stations do, KSN needs to send a back-up out in the field, like Andrew Kozak. He has the weather mind and could probably offer good analysis from out in the field to really supplement Dave's coverage from the studio. Read KWCH's excerpt down below for an example of good use of spotters. Also KSN could stand to have a live camera in a mobile unit through a cell phone or some other means. Read KAKE's excerpt for an example of this part. Even if that's not possible taking a picture off of a cell phone I think at times might add something to the coverage besides a radar image.
KAKE 10: Jay Prater can sometimes come off as a little too friendly and cheesy. He certainly has a big market feel and edge to him, but it is still tolerable. It is interesting that I think weather at KAKE is delivered in a totally different manner than the normal in-your face style of a KAKE newscast. Actually KSN's weather with Dave may match the KAKE style better. Jay has a calming way about him, even as he goes into severe weather coverage. He doesn't get overly panicked, but you can still tell he means business when a storm does become severe. Jay also does a nice job of explaining weather and why things are happening as they are. When dealing with science it can be hard to explain something complicated, but at the same time one has to be careful not to appear as if they are talking down to an audience. I think Jay does a nice job of this and that is probably his best quality, over on camera presence or anything else he is doing.
It is very odd when watching their weather. Outside of the logo, it is like you are watching a different channel, because most of the on-air weather talent is laid back.
Outside of a few months ago, I thought weekend meteorologist Matt Makens was just another kid in the market doing weather. After watching him a little more closer, I must say I like his style. As he moves onto a bigger market, it will be interesting to see how he develops as a weatherman.
Of course before Jay Prater came to Kansas, Ben Pringle was chief meteorologist. When the change first happened I wasn't too happy with the change. Now I must say I really don't notice a big difference. If there is a difference, I would say it most likely would be in Pringle's delivery which comes across as a little more genuine and from the Midwest. With that said there isn't really a big difference in styles between Pringle and Prater.
Upsides: Prater's ability to explain weather in a conversational friendly way, and overall consistent quality among their 3 (before Makens leaves). I don't count Tanner Swift in this, because I have seen him only a few times. My first opinion would be that he needs to spend some time polishing his act in a smaller market.
The weather cam in a vehicle brings pictures of storms, often time live tornadoes to the air. Although the video doesn't appear as the same quality as normal video shown, it was still live pictures from the field. Of the three stations, if a tornado was in the area, KAKE usually has the pictures of it from the field as it happens. Another strength of Prater's is his ability to interact with the spotters all while balancing the radars and other information in severe weather mode.
Downsides: Graphics of the weather segment. I think the graphics are difficult to read especially with lists of precipitation totals or record highs and other figures.
KWCH 12: Merril Teller matches the persona that KWCH shows throughout their newscast and with their staffs. As I have mentioned before (although it is showing signs of change) KWCH runs a pretty conservative safe operation as a ratings leader would do. Merrill isn't overall friendly on camera, that's not to say he is mean or offensive. Its safe to say if you watch KWCH, you are going to get the weather and that's about it. For many viewers this is a great thing. For example you wont get any cheesy one liner replies from Merril after weather segments in interacting with Cindy and Roger. To me I really do not mind this. As for their supporting cast, no one really stands out to me. And once again, not a bad thing. For one, that means there isn't really anything about them that would make me suddenly want to turn.
Mark Larson: He pretty much follows the KWCH formula being pretty safe in his on air personality. He interacts pretty well with the morning cast and serves a good purpose as someone you don't mind waking up to in the morning.
Lindsey Butor: As the only female meteorologist in the market, she offers more than just being that. She adds a little young spunk when she does weather. One downside is that at times she can get overly happy and has problems, it appears, stop smiling. She also comes across, at times as being a little young, but I think her future is bright and once her contract does come up, she'll probably moving up similar to Matt Makens move.
Ross Janssen: Definitely comes across as a local Kansas kid. Once again very safe with his on air delivery and there really isn't anything offensive with his style. I'll speak more on this below, but it is a smart move to send him out to spot in the field during severe weather. Although he is nothing overly spectacular in that role, he does offer good information and gives the idea, along with KAKE they are watching the situation not only from the radars, but also from the field.
Downsides: As much as I say their talent fits the overall feel of the newscasts, I think all, except Lindsey, could use a little pep at times when delivering their forecasts. Could use mobile cameras similar to KAKE. If they have them, they could stand to use them more.
Upside: Bringing meteorologist from the studio out into the field. As I have said before, it not only gives the meteorologist in the studio a break, but also the viewers a break from the meteorologists' barrage of radars from the studio. Also they have decent spotters who they go to when severe weather breaks out, people who have done it awhile and you can hear it with the way they describe the scenes.
I will wrap this up by summing up the positives of each station's weather. KSN has the passion, KAKE has the mobile cameras and KWCH has overall consistency. Now some may have noticed I didn't get into accuracy of forecasts. Frankly I have no idea and that probably is an important thing, but with TV weather I wonder if viewers really have a bond with the weather person, does it even matter if they are wrong from time to time?
I am sure people may disagree with my weather opinions so I would love for you to respond and start a lively debate on this topic. What else are you going to do, since Dave, Jay and Merril all said its going to rain most of the weekend. -Hal