What It's Like To Be...

A TV Meteorologist

October 31, 2023 Dan Heath Season 1 Episode 4
What It's Like To Be...
A TV Meteorologist
Show Notes Transcript

Tracking a 2.5-mile-wide tornado, fretting over forecasts, and waking up at 2:30am with Lacey Swope, a TV meteorologist for News 9 in Oklahoma City. How does she deal with fans and stalkers? And what is the “deformation zone”?

You can see Lacey's daily forecasts on the News 9 website. She's also on Instagram.

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  1. What do people think your job is like and what is it actually like?
  2. What’s a word or phrase that only someone from your profession would be likely to know and what does it mean?

Dan Heath:
Lacey Swope is a TV meteorologist, a weather person. As you might expect, it's pretty far from a 9:00 to 5:00 job.

Lacey Swope:
So weather and the way that television weather and forecasting goes is the whole idea is that you're on TV telling people what their day's going to be like while they're at home. So I can't work 8:00 to 5:00. We have to be on in the morning before people go to work, so that typically starts at 4:00 AM. Our newscast starts at 4:00 AM

Dan Heath:
Wait, is anybody up and listening to news at 4:00 in the morning?

Lacey Swope:
You would be very surprised.

Dan Heath:
That seems a little extreme.

Lacey Swope:
It's extreme. It is extreme. So my shift starts, I get to work at 3:30. I go on air at 5:30.

Dan Heath:
Whoa.

Lacey Swope:
We have someone else that does our 4:00 newscast, but I wake up at 2:00, so my alarm is set, well for 2:30, let's be honest. And so I just consider it late at night. I immediately get up, I brush my teeth, roll out of bed and have my clothes picked out the night before. I have everything I need from the night before picked out or I will forget it. So I come into work looking like the living dead, but I have so much forecasting I have to do and data I have to go through, graphics I have to build. I do that until there's about 30 minutes to showtime. I run into the makeup room. I do my own hair and makeup. I've learned over the years to be able to just throw it on very quickly and the cameras come on and everything starts and I'm on the air at 5:30 in the morning and I'm on until 7:00 AM, And we have hits every five minutes or so, five or six minutes. Here in Oklahoma City it's quite frequent.

Dan Heath:
Let me break in here for a sec. I have so many more questions for Lacey. Like how do you have a normal family life when you wake up at 2:30 AM? When do you eat dinner? More on that in a minute. For now, welcome to the show. This is What It's Like To Be. On every episode we interview someone from a different profession and learn all about their work. What are the highs and lows? What drives them crazy? Ultimately we're trying to learn something about what would it be like to walk in their shoes?

Today we talk to Lacey Swope, a meteorologist on News 9 in Oklahoma City. We'll find out where her forecast come from. Is it basically the same stuff as what you get on your phone or no? We'll hear about a two and a half mile wide tornado that struck Oklahoma City and what happened. And we'll also learn what it's like to be a local celebrity and both the joys and the dangers that come from that. Let's get to it. I'm Dan Heath. Stay with us.

Okay, let's rewind the tape for a second. So 2:30 is when you set your alarm?

Lacey Swope:
Yes.

Dan Heath:
I'm still hung up on that fact.

Lacey Swope:
So it's very, very wild. I'm also a mom and so I have two young kids. I have a four-year-old and a one-year-old.

Dan Heath:
So you probably have the same bedtime.

Lacey Swope:
We do. And I've always told people, "I don't know what my kids are going to do. They're not going to like it because their bedtime will always be 7:00 PM. That will not change."

Dan Heath:
Is that when you go to bed?

Lacey Swope:
I go to bed at 7:00, yes. I do. And I expect my whole household, including my husband to be in bed.

Dan Heath:
Oh my gosh. So he's adapted to your schedule.

Lacey Swope:
Yes. I'm very spoiled.

Dan Heath:
That's true love right there.

Lacey Swope:
It truly is. But if I knew he was up, I would be wondering what I was missing. So he does get up after I go to sleep and he'll do things, piddle around, whatever, watch TV, whatever he's going to do, and he goes to bed I think at a normal hour, but when I get in bed, he better be there as well.

Dan Heath:
Wait, so when do you eat dinner?

Lacey Swope:
So I eat dinner at 5:00, which is funny. We have a dinner tonight with friends and they were wanting to go at 6:30 and I was like, "absolutely not. That's late." And they're like, "Lacey, that's when people eat." I went, "I know, but I'm not normal people, so if I'm going to eat with you it's 5:00 at the latest." So it becomes a struggle. I miss out on a lot. I really do. But it's either that or come to work on no sleep and then I can't function and unfortunately my job requires me to be on. I can't miss anything. So I've got to be very with it in the mind as much as I can at that time of day.

Dan Heath:
Yeah. Okay, so you get up at 2:30, you get to work, you get there super early, and it sounds like you have some prep work to do before you go on the air. What is that prep work?

Lacey Swope:
Well, it's funny because the prep work never ends. The way that weather data works, I mean it's changing constantly. We get these model runs that come in sometimes hour by hour. Depending on the different model, they can come in every six hours. And so I never stop looking at data.

Dan Heath:
Where is that information coming from?

Lacey Swope:
That's what's really interesting about weather data, which is different in the United States than in other countries. It's all free. It's accessible to the public anytime, anywhere.

Dan Heath:
When I go to Apple Weather or whatever on my iPhone and I look at the forecast for the day.

Lacey Swope:
Sure.

Dan Heath:
What are the layers that you're seeing beneath that I'm not seeing as a casual consumer?

Lacey Swope:
I mean layers is absolutely the way to say it, because that's the way we're taught in meteorology to understand the atmosphere, it's in layers. You start with the surface and then there are layers all the way up into the stratosphere. And the stratosphere is the next layer of atmosphere above us. And essentially every single thing that goes on under the stratosphere is called the thermosphere. And we care what happens at every level. What happens halfway in the middle of that impacts what happens at the surface. So when we look at forecasting data, the first thing we do is look at the big view across the globe and then we start to look at what we call critical levels, for multiple reasons. There's certain levels in the atmosphere that you want to look at and see what they're doing. We look at those different levels in different heights and then it brings us all the way down to the surface.

It's literally called the top down method, and that's how we forecast. The output at the very bottom of that pyramid, if you will, from the top down, a bottom up, an inverted triangle, the very point of that pyramid is going to be what people get on their phone. That's all they care about. They don't care what's going on at 700 millibars. They don't care what's happening with a geopotential height. They don't care about any of that stuff. So we have to be able to look at all of that and then say, "The high today is going to be 92 and you're going to have sunny skies."

Dan Heath:
Well, that's what I wanted to ask you. Is the forecast that you're sharing on the air, did those come from one of your sources or are you choosing among sources or are you doing a kind of hand-rolled brew of the different sources based on your analysis or what's the origin?

Lacey Swope:
It's a concoction. It's a nice massaged concoction. So it sounds super complicated, but it's not. So it depends on where you're talking to, but different places in the country, this is not the case. I will say in Oklahoma City our market is so very unique to even other markets in Oklahoma. It's a highly, highly competitive market. The viewers here are so aggressively aware of the forecast. They are so in tune. They know all meteorological terms. We've had some of the most violent weather, we have had the most violent weather, as far as severe weather goes on the surface of the planet.

Dan Heath:
Oklahoma City is sort of like the big leagues for meteorology, isn't it?

Lacey Swope:
It's the Mecca for severe weather. Yes, it absolutely is, which is why I'm still blown away that I have a job here. But when it comes down to putting that forecast together and figuring out exactly how it's going to go and what we're going to present, we have a nine day. We're Channel 9, so we have a nine day forecast that we put out. And we've taken into account the forecast from before. So whoever the shift was before me, our chief does our 10:00 newscast, and so I take his forecast, I take in all the new model data, I look at that. I have to notice any changes, any variations, what's going on. But it's also really important to know what's happening currently. You can get so bogged down in just staring at a computer, staring at the data, and not just looking outside. And the models may start off with saying, "It's cloudy, therefore the high is going to be 72." Well, in reality, it's clear right now. We're going to have full sun. The high is going to be 10 degrees hotter and that happens daily.

Dan Heath:
How much of the banter that we see between the anchors and the meteorologist is scripted versus improvised?

Lacey Swope:
Great question. I can't speak for anywhere else, but here there's zero scripting whatsoever. You shouldn't ask me to read a teleprompter. It would not go well.

Dan Heath:
So you're not reading a teleprompter when you give the forecast?

Lacey Swope:
No, never. Never, never, never.

Dan Heath:
Okay.

Lacey Swope:
So my weather hits every day. I have a minute in the beginning of the show, and then my full weathers they're called are four minutes long, and that is four minutes of me saying whatever I want. There's no one telling me. It's 100% up to me. They call it I'm the CEO of my own show. So if it goes great, great. If it goes wrong, it's on me.

Dan Heath:
I'm shocked by that.

Lacey Swope:
Really?

Dan Heath:
Maybe I shouldn't be.

Lacey Swope:
No, that's-

Dan Heath:
Yeah. Is that the norm?

Lacey Swope:
I think so. That's the thing, I've not worked many other places, so I'm not 100% sure, but here, our news team, our bosses, they worry about them and what they're doing as far as the news side goes. But when it comes to weather, we have a weather department that is fully, solely, almost completely independent, and each forecaster does their own forecasting, their own graphics. I build my own graphics. I produce my own show. I decide every day, "This is the story for the day. This is what people need to know today," and put it all together myself, and then I just get up there and ramble.

Dan Heath:
Well, you make your own graphics too.

Lacey Swope:
I do.

Dan Heath:
So like those charts?

Lacey Swope:
Yeah, yeah.

Dan Heath:
I mean you need some support, man.

Lacey Swope:
Thank you.

Dan Heath:
You need some delegation here.

Lacey Swope:
Thank you. So starting off, I was a weather producer. That's how I started in this market. It was just unique. I got to get a chance to learn how so many other people forecast and how they build graphics and how you tell a story. It needs to be interesting and you have to tell someone what you're going to tell them, you have to tell them and then you have to tell them what you told them. And that's essentially what a weather forecast is, and it has to be something that's engaging and makes it interesting. Otherwise, I'm just going to get that off my app on my phone.

Dan Heath:
It strikes me that your job has this kind of weird split between there's this hardcore science on one side and then there's this performance aspect on the other where you have to have a great presence on screen and hold it together and keep your equilibrium during a crisis and know how to relate to the audience. And aren't those two very different sets of skills and is it hard to find them in the same person?

Lacey Swope:
All the time. It's a weird dichotomy. So our station motto is to keep Oklahomans safe, informed and entertained. And so yes, it's very, very wild because we have to have all these calculations. It has to be very serious. But if you're up there just reading from a teleprompter and just talking with zero personality, people can get their weather data virtually anywhere now. There has to be a reason for them to watch you. And so there has to be a part of it where you relate to the viewer and you make them say, "Hey, I like the way she gives the weather." You hope that's what they're saying. And that way they will tune in. And then if you can get them to tune in when the weather's quiet, of course they're going to tune in when the weather is more serious because now they trust you. They know you know your stuff. And you're looking out for them.

Dan Heath:
What's the most severe weather event you've ever covered?

Lacey Swope:
The most violent weather I ever covered was very early on in my career. It was back in 2013. What happened on May 20th, 2013 was an EF5 tornado hit our metropolitan area. It started in Newcastle, it went into Moore, Oklahoma. It hit right as kids were about to get out of school. So at 3:00 in the afternoon, elementary school kids were killed in their school. It continued to go on and lifted in South Oklahoma City. So up until that point, I had seen videos of EF5s. I grew up in Oklahoma. I knew what weather can do. I've seen it. I've seen it in neighboring towns. But I've never been a meteorologist on television when something like that was taking place. I covered tornadoes and anytime anyone's hit by a tornado, it's awful. But this particular one for my career was just absolutely devastating. And it was just the realization that all this that I do, staring at a computer screen and looking at these numbers and figuring all this out, there's a purpose behind that. And this is what the purpose is.

Those people, they needed to know, and they needed to know sooner. And I would love nothing more than to be a part of figuring out what this mystery is that we don't know about the atmosphere to give even a better warning, to say, "There is a 100% chance this area will be hit." It's not even close to that good right now. But that event was, it will stick with me forever. I can remember what I was wearing from head to toe that day. It was 10 years ago but I remember all the images once our crews and helicopter got over the scene after the tornado. There were virtually parents running to this school pulling off bricks, hoping to find their child.

And it was two schools that were hit, not to mention homes. I mean homes just leveled. People going into neighborhoods and they couldn't even tell what street they were on, let alone what block, because there was nothing left. I mean, there was just nothing left but foundations. I had never seen anything with my own two eyes like that. We didn't know that, this was on the 20th, May 31st, 11 days later, that same month, that same year, another EF5 tornado touchdown just outside of Oklahoma City, coming right into Oklahoma City, and lifted. And that was the widest tornado on the surface of the Earth. That tornado was 2.6 miles wide. It took the lives of very prominent meteorologists, very well-known storm chasers who had done it their entire career, who were out there getting research to help forecasting and to forecast tornadoes and this tornado killed them. It had such erratic movement. It tripled in size and actually it changed direction. It was moving northeast and it started taking a dive southeast, which is very rare.
So the chasers, who chase on the southeast side of a storm, which is what you do, they were just consumed by the tornado. And it was devastating. And you just kind of have to put on this face of, "I'm still doing my job." It's once it ends, it's once the storm lifts, and it's once everything becomes quiet on radar that I think it hits you. And for me, that particular day when I got home and I saw my husband, it was just like the floodgates opened. It was like then it became real. This is the first person that I truly love that I'm seeing after such a horrific day. And I was so thankful and grateful to be in the position I was in. I was safe. He was safe. Everyone we knew and loved, they were safe. And you have dreams about it. I still do. I still, that particular tornado, the Moore EF5 from 2013, I can't tell you how many times a year I will dream about that tornado.

Dan Heath:
Lacey told me about a moment that happened later on May 20th. That was the first tornado that hit the school. And the tornado was gone and there was no more reporting to do. And the devastation had created this kind of yearning in the community to do something to help. So the station decides they're going to take donations from people to give to the affected communities. And people responded.

Lacey Swope:
By the evening, there was a line of cars wrapped for miles around. Traffic shut down with people flooding to the station parking lot to drop off goods. And it gives me chills even saying it. People had driven from edges of Oklahoma, from out of state, because they just felt helpless. And it was, "Here's something we can do." And they were dropping off, kids had piggy banks, people were dropping off savings. They were just handing us cash out of their car window. They were dropping off water. Someone finally came and said, "We have gone to every store in the metro trying to find water to donate, and everyone has sold out because they've donated the water." And we looked across our parking lot and it's a sea of bottled water and jugs of water and shovels and gloves and jeans and baby clothes. And I would say even though it was the most devastating day, that was the most amazing human to human interaction I had ever encountered.

Dan Heath:
Wow. And it makes it so clear that your role is not some kind of neutral, detached, journalistic observation. You're in it.

Lacey Swope:
Yes.

Dan Heath:
The role that you play is central to the community.

Lacey Swope:
And I think that's part of what I absolutely love about it. It's hard to put into words, but I live here. My family lives here. My house that I grew up in was hit by a tornado back in 1977 before I was born. And people have lived through weather in every aspect of my family. I have a great aunt who was in a nursing home working when a tornado hit and her legs were messed up for the rest of her life because of it.

And so when people are hit, I personally haven't been in my family directly impacted by a tornado, but I can sympathize. And I know what they're going through to some degree. And I see the hurt and I witness it and I can get to their level. And I live it too. My family, when I'm at work and there's a storm coming and there's a tornado coming into town, my husband and my kids have to get into the tornado shelter, without me. And I just have to hope and pray they're doing the right thing. And so it's almost like we're all in this together and it's such an amazing feeling to look across and to just look people in the eye. And it's such a leveling field of weather doesn't discriminate.

Dan Heath:
I just wanted to jump in here to ask a quick question. If you could talk with anyone in your life about their job, who would it be? Your auto mechanic, your neighbor, the registered nurse, maybe a childhood friend who's a zookeeper? Tell us about them and we'll be the ones to pester them with 100 nosy questions. We're always looking for new people to talk to. So if you know someone who loves their job and is a great storyteller, tell us about them. Just email us at jobs@whatitslike.com. That's jobs@whatitslike.com. Thanks folks.

So do people recognize you when you're just going about town in the grocery store and so forth?

Lacey Swope:
They do. And I think that is very unique to Oklahoma. I don't know how common that is because weather is such a part of people's lives here so the meteorologists here are very well known.

Dan Heath:
You're like a folk hero.

Lacey Swope:
It is wild. It is wild. Which is crazy because I grew up watching the weather in Oklahoma, obviously, and my favorite chief, if I would've seen him in a grocery store, oh my gosh, I would've lost my mind. And so I understand that. And it's wild to people out of state because they're like, "That person does the weather on TV. Who cares?" But it is very different here. I've been invited to so many birthday parties to be like a surprise element.

Dan Heath:
Oh, you're kidding.

Lacey Swope:
I'm not kidding. Yes.

Dan Heath:
People will invite you to come to a relative's birthday party?

Lacey Swope:
Yes, I have a lot of-

Dan Heath:
How is that a reasonable request of someone?

Lacey Swope:
I don't know, but it's hilarious. I've never actually done it. But I get that request several times a year and it always cracks me up. But I've been so blessed with so many amazing opportunities because of this job and cool things I've got to go do and experience. And it's always weird. It will never not be weird when you're sitting there eating and someone comes up and wants to take a picture and an autograph. It blows my mind that people want autographs. What do you do with that in today's day and age? What do you do with a signed picture? I have no idea, but people stand in line for virtually hours.

Dan Heath:
What do they have you sign?

Lacey Swope:
We have head shots at the station. Like movie stars, and I'm not kidding you when I say that. These are head shots that have been professionally taken, printed out, and we will go to these events, weather events, and people come and stand in line for hours. And when I say hours, I'm not exaggerating. They will drive from every corner of Oklahoma from hours away. A lot of times it's a birthday present for a kid or a big thing they've made that, "Hey, we're playing this entire event to come out and meet you," which is just the most incredible thing.

Dan Heath:
That is so sweet. So you have this whole fan management side of your job.

Lacey Swope:
Yes, absolutely. And with that comes stalkers and comes a very serious security threat. And when I say serious, I mean people in jail because of very serious things they've done.

Dan Heath:
No joke?

Lacey Swope:
Absolutely, yes.

Dan Heath:
How do you handle that kind of unwanted attention?

Lacey Swope:
It's difficult. It's very, very difficult. Because like I said, I'm a wife, I'm a daughter, I'm a sister, I'm a mother, and I take my family and my personal life very seriously. And your average everyday person, they respect that. They know that. They're very kind and very respectful. But you have people that invade your privacy and people who think, which is, this is the crazy part, by watching you on TV, they know you. And for a lot of people it's innocent, but for some it's not. We've had to develop an entire security team at the station over the past five or six years. We have Oklahoma City Police who are very involved. We have detectives we can call. I have detectives on speed dial that I call and they immediately respond and know my situation and know who these stalkers are. And it's wild.

Dan Heath:
Why do you think, I mean both sides of the spectrum are kind of-

Lacey Swope:
Bizarre.

Dan Heath:
-shocking. It's like people who stand four hours in line to get a photo signed and people that would send creepy. Why are people getting so drawn in, do you think? Is there something about you or the role or?

Lacey Swope:
I truly don't know the answer to that. I think a lot of it is weather. I think a lot of it is not so much me personally, because it's not just me. It is the team in general. And I think a lot of it is that for these people, we're on a lot. We have a lot of weather hits and our hits are not scripted. So you're getting to know me as a person. You're getting to know more of my life story. I may get a chance to throw in something about my husband or my kids or what I did for the weekend. And so I think people become much more connected to you on a personal level, even though they've never met you. And I get that all the time from people. I'll see an elderly couple and they're like, "Oh, you're our daughter. I just want you to know." Stuff like that. They just feel like you're a family member because they start their day with you every single day. You're in their living room or in their bedroom every single day.

And so to them, you're just a part of their day. When they see you out, it's like, "Oh my gosh." I had people tell, "You were just in my bedroom this morning." I'm like, "That's crazy." So I think that's a lot of it.

Dan Heath:
Fascinating. Totally fascinating. So Lacey, we always have a lightning round of questions with our guests on the podcast. So let me fire away here.

Lacey Swope:
Okay.

Dan Heath:
I can't wait to hear your answer to this one. What's a word or phrase that only someone from your profession would be likely to know and what does it mean?

Lacey Swope:
The deformation zone. I think that's a good one. The deformation zone. There are so many. There are so many terms in meteorology that are just, they sound so cool and I love talking about them, but that's something that anyone in meteorology knows that's where the excitement's going to happen. Because the truth is we all love severe weather. We live for it. We love it. And so you want to see deformation, which is winds just above the surface that are going and spreading out. When winds above the surface spread out, it's almost like a fan blowing up above our heads. Well, that automatically creates a sort of vacuum at the surface and causes air to rise. So wherever you have the greatest deformation, you've got the most rising air. You need that to get a super cell. You need that to get a tornado. So we're constantly looking for regions of deformation.

Dan Heath:
The deformation zone. Gosh, I love that. It's like a limited edition sci-fi series on Netflix, The Deformation Zone.

Lacey Swope:
Ah. That would be amazing.

Dan Heath:
And who is the most famous meteorologist, whether real or fictional?

Lacey Swope:
Oh my gosh, I love that. I think I would say Brick from Anchorman. For sure. He's my favorite. And I think we get compared to him in this world all the time because so many people have seen that movie, and love his character, love him so much. He's just off the wall. You don't really know what he's talking about. People love Anchorman and ask us about Anchorman a lot because there's a scene in there where the weather teams and the news teams fight with the other weather teams in town. And we are very competitive in the Oklahoma City market. "So do you guys really hate each other?"

Dan Heath:
And is it cutthroat in the market in Oklahoma City?

Lacey Swope:
I would say when it comes to trying our best to give the best information, it absolutely is competitive. But I think that's good for the viewers. The viewers get a product.

Dan Heath:
But you wouldn't sabotage their radar or something just to get a little leg up?

Lacey Swope:
I would never. I would never. But I'm not saying-

Dan Heath:
Wink, wink.

Lacey Swope:
Right, right. Would I lose sleep if their radar went down? Probably not. I'm just kidding. I'm just kidding. It would be awful. Public safety comes first.

Dan Heath:
Of course. Of course. All right, next up. What's the most insulting thing you could say about another meteorologist's work?

Lacey Swope:
"That's not what my app says." It's the worst. That is the worst. If anyone comes up to me, viewer or meteorologist, it doesn't matter and our apps don't agree and your app on your phone does not agree with my forecast, that just means that you give zero flips about my hard work that I have put into my personal forecast that I am giving you. That's what that says to me. And I get that from friends and family and viewers every day.

Dan Heath:
That's interesting to me because it's like I don't even know that they know they're insulting you.

Lacey Swope:
They have no idea. That's why it's the worst. I die inside. It kills my soul when someone says that. Because to me, they're trusting this benign sterile app. It doesn't know them. It's not looking out for you. It doesn't care about your children. It doesn't care about your wellbeing at the end of the day. And you're trusting that and you're questioning me. And that's how I take it. Now, is that the right way to take it? Probably not. But to me, when people compare my forecast to their app, I'm just like, "Why am I here?"

Dan Heath:
I mean, one of the things I've learned from this conversation honestly is just how many layers are beneath the forecast and how much interpretation is involved. I honestly just didn't know that.

Lacey Swope:
And most people don't, so they wouldn't even understand why it's a problem. But people don't understand what goes into that very simplified four minutes. I am here for eight hours a day. You may watch me for a four minute weather cast at best. There's a lot that's gone into that four minute weather cast, a lot. That you don't see. And a lot of it is just blood, sweat, and tears of going over in discussions with our team of what we think. It's all to give you, "The high today is 97 and it's going to be sunny."

Dan Heath:
So how about some prognostication here? So 20 years from now, will there still be TV meteorologists you think?

Lacey Swope:
God, I really don't know the answer to that. I hope so. We're already seeing it go away in a lot of places across the country. Or it's merging. Someone may do the forecast for three different states or three different markets. And so there's not that local person in so many places across the country, which breaks my heart. I think it will be around the longest in places like the Deep South who get hurricanes, but also severe weather, and severe weather markets. There has to be. There has to be some sort of local right here right now giving you the very latest because it saves lives. I mean, it's a life or death situation. And so I don't see that going away. But I don't know. In 20 years with the way technology is, I mean, shoot, maybe I'll be AI. Maybe I'll be out on a beach somewhere and I will have recorded it. I don't know.

Dan Heath:
Lacey Swope is a meteorologist for News 9 in Oklahoma City. You can find her forecast at news9.com and her Instagram handle is Lswope.

What lingered with me afterwards from this conversation related to that last question. Will there still be meteorologist in 20 years? It's honestly kind of hard to think there will be given all the data we get for free on our phones these days. So what do you do if you're in a situation like Lacey Swope and you're in a profession that's facing headwinds or you're at risk from AI or something? It's like, what do you do if you're an expert cobbler in a world where all of a sudden factories start cranking out cheap shoes?
And I think the answer is you've got to make demonstrably better shoes and then go find the pockets of people who care enough to pay for them. And in a weird way, isn't that what Lacey Swope is doing? Because there are two tangible things that make her work better than the weather app on your phone, her personality, the way she presents the weather, and her tweaks to the model. So in essence, her weather is more entertaining and more accurate than your phones. And maybe in a place with really steady weather like San Diego, that extra accuracy wouldn't amount to much. But in Oklahoma City, the home of the two and a half mile wide tornado, it does matter. It really matters.

So I don't know. Maybe I'm too pessimistic about the fate of TV meteorologists. Let's not forget 20, 25, years ago, people were saying the exact same stuff about travel agents. "The internet will wipe them out of existence." And some are gone, but there are still plenty of real life travel agents. And I hope it's the same with weather people. It's such a weird, wonderful hybrid of skills. All the nerdiness and hardcore science you need to model the weather plus the affability and goofiness of being someone that people want to see every day on their TV. And folks, that's what it's like to be a TV meteorologist.

Don't forget, this is a brand new podcast. This is Episode Four. We want to hear from you. What do you think? What professions would you like to hear about? Reach out to us on Instagram. We're @whatitsliketobepodcast. Or you can email us at jobs@whatitslike.com. Stay tuned for the next show when we will hear from a forensic accountant. Imagine there's somebody in your company right now who is embezzling massive amounts of money, but covering their tracks so carefully that they get away with it for years and years.

Chris Ekimoff:
To me, it's much more about educating that individual when they call and they go, "No, no, no. No way Sharon could have done this." And you go, "Well, I've met 11 Sharons in the past 10 years and they've all done it. So let's go in with open eyes."

Dan Heath:
We'll talk to the guy who has learned how to smoke out all those Sharons. How does he do it? Join us next time. I'm Dan Heath. Thanks for listening.