Saturday, January 27, 2007

#31 - God of Thunder

God of Thunder

6/14/04 (#31)

I have grown tired of laboring for "the man". As the national economy improves (at least it has for some sectors, evidenced in the $2.50 per gallon gas price), I have decided to discard the cloak of fear under which I have suffocated through repeated rounds of layoffs, promotions without compensation, and performance reviews adjusted to meet the available paltry pay raises ("You're doing a great job, but people who do a great job get a 4% raise, and we can only afford to give you a 2% raise, so we have to change the wording on your review so that it sounds like a 2% job.") No longer will I echo the mantra of the 21st century American worker ("At least I have a job") and instead I will find a career that works for me.

I have composed this short list of job requirements:

  1. I need to be paid to be creative, in some fashion or another. Call it fabrication, spin, whatever name you choose---I want to twist words in order to give the illusion of truth without being saddled with the obligation of truth. (Frankly, if this were my only occupational demand, I think I would make a fantastic political speech writer.)
  2. To be an industry conqueror. I don't want to slug it out with the rank and file for an opportunity to shine as the prize coordinator at the holiday party. I want to immediate recognition. Nay, immediate idolization.
  3. To work as little as possible. And I don't mean a 40 hour week with no overtime: I mean showing up at 11:00 AM and having the workday done by 12:30. None of that five-days-a-week routine, either.

I ask too much, you say? Indeed, I might agree if I were to demand these concessions with every job application I submitted. But the key is not to bend pieces of the puzzle to fit the slots and tabs of my desires, but instead to find that niche where my puzzle piece nestles perfectly with the existing structure. And that's how I settled on Meteorology Marketing. To use their own jargon, the field is a sleepy town on the Florida coast, and Hurricane Bill is on the way.

I've done my homework. The fact is, the actual weather has little to do with reporting the weather. On a rainy day, what's a meteorologist to do, deny it? Stand on the beach on a sunny day and say, "I know my competitors have referred to this as a sunny day, but I'm nobody's leash dog, and I disagree"? (Cue camera man with garden hose.)

The key to successful meteorological marketing is to create the illusion that there is no other source for weather warnings than my station, that if you do not tune in to my station, you will be trouncing through puddles in your suede shoes or walking a steamy downtown street with your puffy down-filled jacket draped over your sweltering forearm. Creating the illusion is simple: Technology. The modern viewer wants to have a sense that the technology that gave them ATMs, cell phone cameras and Global Positioning Sensors will also tell them that it's going to be cloudy today. As long as they believe that it will, a meteorologist can get the temperature from a thermometer suction-cupped to the office window and measure rainfall in a topless tuna can on the windowsill.

Look at KAAL in Minneapolis: their "weatherman" gives a "weather report" regarding the "weather". Good grief, it's so low tech that when the rain falls in Minnesota, it must splash on 1987. "Weatherman", how quaint. Apparently KAAL hasn't learned that weather doesn't sell when it's sold by a "Weather Team", you need a "Storm Team". And no one wants to see the satellite shots, they need Doppler radar images.

For weather neophytes, here is a brief history of the Doppler radar phenomenon:

  • KGW in Portland Oregon begins their Doppler 8 Forecast method. No one understands what Doppler is, which means someone in my future profession is really earning their paycheck. The customer doesn't need to know, they only need to think that they can't afford not to know.
  • NewsNet 5 in Cleveland debuts Doppler 5000, the latest in storm forecasting. No one knows what the 5000 stands for, but it's 4992 more than KGW's, so it's obviously better.
  • WKRC, "The Weather Authority" in Cincinnati unveils Precision Doppler 12. "12" would seem inferior to 5000, but "Precision", now that's what the customer needs. A storm is 100 miles wide, but they still had the audacity to call it "Precision". I admit, within the meteorological marketing field, I will be standing on the shoulders of giants.
  • KATU Portland releases Microcast Doppler. Doesn't Microcast seem even more accurate than Precision? (I have no idea what microcast means, so additional bonus points to KATU.)
  • WOAI in San Antonio goes even further with their Pinpoint Storm Tracker Doppler. Pinpoint---never mind that the actual accuracy is the equivalent of a pin poking a spot on a globe the size of a golf ball, their customers are getting pinpoint weather forecasts. No accidental downpours for the folks in San Antonio. (At least not more than a couple of times per week.)
  • FOX 12 Oregon's Storm Team promotes Pinpoint Terrain Mapping. It makes you step back and admire, no? I admit, I thought Pinpoint Storm Tracker Doppler was the weather-seller's pinnacle, but Pinpoint Terrain Mapping---what could that possibly mean? It sounds like something the Army or some other hyper-funded secret government agency would do.

But don't let yourself be seduced by the big picture, because this business isn't about weather. This business is about YOU. That's why WCTX in Hartford unveiled Personal Storm Tracker. That's right, folks, WCTX actually managed to make weather a personal experience---it's not just raining, it's raining on YOU, as if you're standing on the pitcher's mound of your own personal Peanuts cartoon. A completely impractical, almost ludicrous idea, but they sold it. Sold it so well that WFAA in Dallas took it a step beyond with Desktop Radar. Now let's be honest, who needs help with the weather at their own desk? Do the keys make a splashing noise as you type? It's raining. Napkins collected in a pile at the base of the bulletin board? Windy. But even Desktop Radar isn't enough for the folks in Knoxville, where WVLT brings its viewers Pinpoint 8 Desktop Weather. The desktop frontier is too broad---now it's a pinpoint on your desktop.

Where will it end? As long as people like me have their way, it never will. Just ask the ambitious folks at super station KOBTV in Albuquerque, NM, where they explode the weather technology envelope with:

Live Pinpoint 4 Doppler Max (You thought Doppler 5000 was good? This is the Max! Updated every three minutes because, let's face it, what good is 4-minute old weather?)
Live Pinpoint 4 Weathernet (Weathernet, now that's just gorgeous marketing)
Pinpoint Futurecast (Whoever thought up Pinpoint Futurecast earned the afternoon off, though it's clear that with so many new meteorological thresholds crossed, these folks didn't cross them by taking afternoons off.)

Of course, I am planning to cross those thresholds myself when my news team unveils Global Vector Meteorology, my debut in the weather marketing field. And when the competition reacts to the upstart challenge with Pinpoint Global Vector Meteorology, we won't answer with Pinpoint Global Vector Desktop Meteorology, but instead unveil the next level of incomprehensible weather hyperbole: Baseline Laser Penetration Forecasting. Televisions will crackle citywide, viewers attention riveted as they try to determine why we have such a fabulous name for what appears to be the same old weather.

By then, which should be no later than the third week of my tenure in the industry, I will have accepted an offer from a competitive station. Nervous stockholders will worry about the massive signing bonus demanded in my contract, until they turn on their station the next day to see their storm team utilizing the latest in forecasting technology: Ambient Terrestrial Resonation Monitoring. The shareholders will smile.

I'm certain all of the meteorological trade magazines will be featuring my photo on the cover, with teaser headlines like, "Big Bad Bill: Is it about the weather, or is it all about him?" and "God of Thunder: How Bill Reagan reinvented himself, and an industry along with him." I'll have my detractors, just like Henry Ford and Bill Gates before me, jealous weather-copy writers and self-appointed weather purists who lament the commercialization of climate. But I will embrace the controversy, allow my home to be profiled on MTV's Cribs, and when the media furor reaches full velocity, I will quell the storm with four simple words:

Mobius Spectral Infiltration Technology
The clouds will clear in the world of meteorological marketing. Sunshine will pour forth from the sky, and all will agree---"I have no idea what that means, but that's got to be the best weather in town."

The next day? I'll be in around 11 a.m.

©2004 wpreagan

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