Recently when I renewed my Minnesota Public Radio membership I was asked by the woman who took my pledge What programming do you enjoy the most? I replied “Paul Huttner.” Oh, weather guy, the pledge-taker said, I like him too.
Paul Huttner is MPR’s head meteorologist, part of the commitment MPR has to be “weather station of record.” CBS O&O WCCO-AM played that role for several decades but they gave it up this summer. I reported on WCCO’s diminished role last July [link].
Huttner appears regularly on MPR’s talk/interview programs and in news stories about climate and weather. He also writes an excellent weather blog called Updraft [link].
He is Minnesota’s version of Bill Nye, The Science Guy. Huttner is more homespun than Nye but his weather knowledge is remarkable. Like Nye, Hutnter is popular with students and makes frequent campus and classroom appearances. Earlier this year he was the keynote speaker at The Minnesota Science Teachers Association’s Conference on Science Education. His speech topic was Minnesota’s Changing Climate: Is this the new normal?
I wish every public radio outlet could have an ambassador to schools like Huttner. Weather is a key part of MPR’s effort to be the “station of record” in the region.
WISCONSIN PUBLIC RADIO HAS A CENTURY OF WEATHER EXPERIENCE
On Dec. 4, 1916, one hundred years ago, 9XM, the predecessor to today's Wisconsin Public Radio, broadcast its first weather forecast. It was in Morse Code. When the weather was going to be severe, the dots-and-dashes were in red. (Just kidding.)
|THE 9XM WEATHER TEAM IN 1916|
9XM, which became WHA-AM, was one of the pioneers of noncommercial educational radio. It was one of several notable university stations that specialized in distance learning and weather for statewide agriculture.
Other AM stations in the 1920s, 30s and 40s that provided similar services included WOSU, WOI, WBAA, KOAC and WILL.
Last week WPR published 100 Years Of Weather Broadcasting At WHA [link], a fascinating look back at WPR’s earliest years.
The story begins in 1916 when Physicist Earle Terry enlisted his staff and students to build the equipment for an experimental station. Soon after 9XM signed on it became perhaps the first station in America to broadcast a regular schedule of news, weather and Badger football in dots and dashes.
The U.S. Weather Bureau enthusiastically supported broadcasting the weather. One of Terry’s students, Eric Miller, became 9XM’s first “weather star.” In early 1917, Terry and Miller invited friends over to listen to a special transmission of music. His guests were reportedly unimpressed. By 1921, 9XM changed from Morse Code to full time audio broadcasting.
NONCOM WEATHER IS NOT JUST FOR NORTHERN STATES
Weather is everywhere but extreme conditions frequently appear in many other places, such as Florida. Tourism, agriculture and seafood all depend on the weather and a future hurricane is probably just around the corner.
WUFT at the University of Florida I Gainesville has made significant investments in weather technology and person for their cluster of broadcast properties.
WUFT-TV, WUFT-FM and two commercial stations share the weather center [link] headed by meteorologist Jeff Huffman. Huffman also writes a daily weather blog [link].
VERMONT PUBLIC RADIO IS WORKING WITH A PARTNER FOR WEATHER & CLIMATE INFO
Vermont Public Radio (VPR) is partnering with Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium [link] in St. Johnsbury to operate Eye On the Sky. Eye is built around a nifty website [link].
Not only does Eye provide the latest conditions and forecasts, it provides nighttime star-watching advice and a newsy journal by senior meteorologist Mark Breen.