Weather Anchors Ready for High-Def Close Up

While Landmark Communications’ imminent sale of The Weather Channel has yet to come into focus, things at the 24-hour cable network will be a lot clearer come June 2, when it cuts the ribbon on its new 12,500-square-foot HD facility.

Starting Monday, Your Weather Today and Evening Edition will be broadcast in 1080-line-interlace HD from a new four-story, 5,000-square-foot studio, the centerpiece of which is a 40-foot-long rear-projection display wall.

“That is a monster wall,” said on-camera meteorologist Jim Cantore, who spoke with B&C about the challenges of adjusting to the new studio. “There’s going to be some times when Cantore’s pointing to Alabama and he really means to be pointing to North Carolina.”

Cantore and his colleagues Paul Goodloe, Heather Tesch and Marshall Seese have been breaking in the new space for the past several weeks, rehearsing for several hours each day on top of their live broadcasts.

“I was telling my neighbor that my schedule’s been so busy,” Your Weather Today’s Tesch said. “And she asked me, ‘Is it really that hard to figure out which camera to look at?’”

Given the amount of moving around between -- and often within -- segments, Tesch said, yes, it is that hard: “One of the hardest things is keeping track not only of the weather, but where we’re supposed to move to.”

That spaciousness has been a blessing, Goodloe said, adding, “There’s so much more room to work with and walk around in after being limited to a small box. It gives us the opportunity to create new shots.”

It also presents basic logistical challenges, Cantore said. “Some of these new monitors on stands don’t have the easiest rollers,” he added. “Watching the floor directors struggling to move them in time for the next shot, you want to go down there and help.”

And while all four anchors are thrilled at the prospect of showing dramatic images of hurricanes and tornadoes in stunning clarity, they acknowledged some apprehension about the cosmetic challenges of going HD. “It’s scary,” Cantore said. “I don’t exactly have Jessica Alba’s skin.”

“We’ve invested $30,000 on the latest plastic surgery,” Goodloe joked.

“I have four cats and a dog, so I always have a bit of animal hair on me,” Tesch said. “Before it wasn’t a problem, but now I’m going to have to keep a lint-roller nearby.”

To see behind-the-scenes video of the rehearsals, click here.