On the 12th floor of the tallest building at Texas A&M, the Oceanography and Meteorology building, meteorology students spend about an hour each night putting together a weather broadcast to air the next day on KAMU-TV.
In the fall 2019 semester, KAMU approached Professor Don Conlee, Ph.D., to inquire about a student-run broadcast after they lost one of their full-time meteorologists. Meteorology students previously only had the opportunity to practice broadcasting through radio with KAMU on 90.9 FM. However, Conlee put together a team of over 30 capable, experienced meteorology students who spent last semester planning for their first on-air weather segment, which was posted online Feb. 17. Student broadcasts will be aired Monday through Friday on KAMU 2.
Head coordinator Mia Montgomery, meteorology senior, was the lead in the first broadcast. Since meteorology is a relatively small major, there is a lot of bonding, working together and opportunities for leadership, Montgomery said. However, she said there was one thing they have been lacking.
“The one thing that we really, really wanted — something that we haven’t really had before — was a TV broadcasting club,” Montgomery said. “When it was brought to our attention that we had the potential opportunity to create something like this, we knew that we needed to do it.”
Montgomery said her interest in broadcast began in Shel Winkley’s one-hour class, most often taken during the junior year of the meteorology major. Winkley, Class of 2007, works as an on-air meteorologist at KBTX, where he has mentored several students involved in the A&M program through internships.
Winkley said the program is entirely student-run and advises everyone to turn their attention away from phone apps and toward broadcast programs with trusted meteorologists.
“[The students] have completely, from the ground-up figured out what the format will be, how long they’ll be, and they have turned it into something that can be put on TV for Bryan-College Station to see,” Winkley said.
Jeanette Gallardo, meteorology junior, manages the program’s social media accounts and coordinates the on-air talent for the broadcasts. Gallardo said she looked for students who had experience on air to train other students who have not yet received those opportunities. Gallardo emphasized the importance of this training for students and the benefits a broadcast program offers A&M.
“This is a really big deal for A&M because other big meteorology schools, such as OU or Mississippi State, they all have some sort of TV program in their meteorology program,” Gallardo said. “At least in a while, we haven’t had any sort of TV branch in our program, and that’s what’s most visible to prospective students when they’re researching a meteorology school.”
Grace Leis, meteorology junior, said her role as one of the leads is to interpret the weather to make it easy for anyone to understand. The students use forecasts they gather from the Weather Prediction Center and the National Weather Service.
Leis has previous internship experience in broadcast weather, but she said this is many students’ first exposure to working with a green screen and being on-air.
“You can take all the classes, you can have a 4.0, but experience is really what’s going to get you that first job,” Leis said. “It’s going to get you to be successful in your first job. Having this every week for us to practice is priceless.”