What I’ve Learned 1 Year After Leaving Broadcast News

Dec. 4, 2017

Today is my one-year anniversary of leaving the broadcast news industry and it has been quite the year!

How I got into TV

1980s through mid-2000’s

For a little background, since I was a kid of about 7 or 8 years old, I wanted to be a meteorologist. I grew up watching The Weather Channel (it was much better back then, by the way), and watching our local meteorologists, including George Myers of WJBF-TV.

During high school, a friend of mine was hired to redevelop the Columbia County Board of Education’s website. In the process, he allowed me to maintain and update a weather page that included an extended forecast for Columbia County. I loved having the opportunity to share my forecasts publicly! Eventually this page evolved into a standalone site, which I maintained through the mid-2000’s. This may not seem all that groundbreaking now, but remember—the internet was still fairly new back in 1997 when all of this began.

2000 through 2007

During my college years, I interned at WAGT under then Chief Meteorologist Jeff Rucker (who has since also left the field to operate Mathnasium franchises in the Augusta-Aiken and Macon areas). To make a long story short, Jeff called me more two years after I’d graduated and asked if I was interested in joining the weather team. After ironing out all the details, I began my career in local broadcast news in 2006 as a freelancer for WAGT-TV, then known as NBC 26 News. My first on-air appearance occurred during Labor Day weekend of that year.

One year later, I became a full-time employee of WAGT as weekend forecaster and weekday web editor. For the rest of my career in TV weather, I held what I came to call the “weekend and whenever” shift. That means I almost always worked weekends (mostly evenings) and whenever someone was on vacation or out sick. It’s a good thing I was single those first few years, as we had a team of just three people, so my schedule shifted around a good bit.

2008 through 2011

In 2008, I enrolled in the Broadcast Meteorology Program at Mississippi State University, and completed it in 2011.

During those years, the WAGT weather team enjoyed getting out in the community, visiting schools, and organizing training for our dedicated group of storm spotters.

Instability

When I started out doing TV weather, I already knew a lot about meteorology, but I learned even more—through experience, knowledge that was shared with me and further education. What I didn’t know so much about early on was how unstable the broadcast industry can be and how politics played a bigger role than I thought.

In late 2008, during the depths of the Great Recession, the station started downsizing and certain benefits began to be cut back.

In the fall of 2009, WAGT employees learned that their parent company was in the process of entering into a 10-year shared services agreement with the parent company of down-the-street competitor and Augusta’s oldest TV station, WJBF NewsChannel 6.

This agreement resulted in the consolidation of operations which culminated in both stations moving out of their separate buildings in downtown Augusta and under one roof in a completely renovated building that’s located on Augusta West Parkway near the intersection of Bobby Jones Expressway and Wrightsboro Road. On Halloween 2011, WAGT began broadcasting from this facility.

With this move came the launch of high definition television for both stations as we all continued to figure out how to compete with one another, while at the same time work collaboratively with one another. Both were necessary.

2012 to 2016

With the economy on the rebound and a turnaround in WAGT’s finances, we felt like we’d finally stabilized.

That is, until September 2015. That’s when news came that the parent company of WAGT, Schurz Communications, was looking to sell their TV stations to the parent company of another local rival, WRDW News 12. This meant another takeover of WAGT by the competition. After wrangling in the courts, this process was completed during the spring of 2016. All of WAGT’s operations are now controlled by North Augusta-based WRDW and their parent company, Gray Television.

Fortunately, the folks at WJBF offered me a job to stay on their payroll despite the loss, (and seemingly death) of the station I’d worked for since I got into the TV business. I became a web content producer for wjbf.com, posting, writing and editing news and weather stories.

After a few months, a meteorology position opened up at WJBF and I moved back into the “weekend and whenever” shift, except this time, I worked the weekend morning show, “Good Morning Augusta” and reunited with my long-time co-anchor and friend Ashley Campbell.

Time for a Change

2016 to Present

Despite the good news that I was back on the air, doing something I love (forecasting weather), and working with a fantastic team of meteorologists at WJBF, my wife and I still felt unsettled. This led me to apply for a few jobs outside of television in the fall of 2016. Between the time I applied for one of the jobs, and the time I was offered the job, we found out my wife was pregnant with our first child! This was a huge reminder that the Lord’s timing is perfect, and we then realized why we had felt so unsettled about remaining at the station. There was a greater purpose on the horizon—being a dad and being able to spend nights and weekends with my family.

I accepted the offer from my alma mater, Augusta University, and went to work there on Dec. 1, 2016. I’ve been quite involved with alumni activities with the university for a number of years so I am thrilled to be able to contribute with my professional duties now as well! My last day as an on-air meteorologist was Dec. 4, 2016. I’ve found a new work family that is a blessing to work with!

What I’ve Been Reminded Of

  • Prayer works, but it may not yield immediate results.
    • My wife and I had been praying for years that the Lord would have us working where He wanted us to be and if that meant a new opportunity that He would present it in His timing. And He did!

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. ~ I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)

  • Don’t be afraid to make a change in your life.
    • If you see God orchestrating one circumstance after another to lead you in a new direction, don’t be afraid, but trust Him! God closed one door after another over a period of time while preparing a new door to be opened. And as frustrating as closed doors can be, that’s what it often takes to uproot us and move us in a new direction.
  • Holidays can actually be enjoyable!
    • When I worked in TV, I rarely had a holiday off. Somebody’s got to work as the news never ends. I did get some Christmas Days off as we often had no newscasts that day, but if weather was an issue, I was still in the studio. Now, I’m able to take holidays off and spend time with family. Holidays are still hectic, but not because of my work schedule. They’re sometimes hectic because it can be tiring to try to see everybody in a short period of time.

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