(note from Joseph D'Aleo, founder of icecap.us - I’ve been following this story since yesterday, but the details kept being somewhat nebulous. Since WaPo [Washington Post] has it, I’ve decided it is safe to consider reasonably accurate now. It looks like TWC has ditched their entire environmental unit, and possibly also host Heidi Cullen, who once said:
“If a meteorologist has an AMS Seal of Approval, which is used to confer legitimacy to TV meteorologists, then meteorologists have a responsibility to truly educate themselves on the science of global warming.” “Meteorologists are among the few people trained in the sciences who are permitted regular access to our living rooms. And in that sense, they owe it to their audience to distinguish between solid, peer-reviewed science and junk political controversy.” “If a meteorologist can’t speak to the fundamental science of climate change, then maybe the AMS shouldn’t give them a Seal of Approval.”
Needless to say, I and many other current and former TV meteorologists took exception to the issue. I posted on it almost two years ago.)
This Washington Post story: NBC Fires Weather Channel Environmental Unit
NBC Universal made the first of potentially several rounds of staffing cuts at The Weather Channel (TWC) on Wednesday, axing the entire staff of the “Forecast Earth” environmental program during the middle of NBC’s “Green Week”, as well as several on-camera meteorologists. The layoffs totaled about 10 percent of the workforce, and are the first major changes made since NBC completed its purchase of the venerable weather network in September.
The layoffs affected about 80 people, but left the long-term leadership of the network unclear, according to a source who requested anonymity due to the continuing uncertainty at the station. Among the meteorologists who was let go was Dave Schwartz, a Weather Channel veteran and a viewer staple due to his lively on camera presentations.
The timing of the Forecast Earth cancellation was ironic, since it came in the middle of NBC’s “Green is Universal” week, during which the network has been touting its environmental coverage across all of its platforms. Forecast Earth normally aired on weekends, but its presumed last episode was shown on a weekday due to the environmentally-oriented week.
Forecast Earth was hosted by former CNN anchor Natalie Allen, with contributions from climate expert Heidi Cullen. It was the sole program on TWC that focused on global climate change, which raises the question of whether the station will still report on the subject. Cullen’s future role at the network is not known.
Icecap Note: A mixed blessing - Heidi and Forecast Earth was nothing but alarmist propaganda that always seemed to be there when you turned to the channel to see the weather. It and the dumbed down programming and talent in recent years made the channel unwatchable as the ratings must have shown. I personally will miss Dave Schwartz. I can report first hand that Dave Schwartz worked as hard as anyone on both the weather and on air communications. He was one of the most watchable OCM (On-Camera Meteorologists) on the network. He has suffered from some serious physical issues in recent months. It is not known if that was a reason for his departure.
(Oscar note: Again, this is technically an economics decision, not a intellectual decision - at least for now. Heidi Cullen's inability to maintain viewership as well as possibly alienating other viewers appear to be the driving forces for now. Also, Joseph D'Aleo was an early head of television meteorologists at The Weather Channel (TWC) in the 1980s, who along with the founder Joe Coleman saw TWC as strictly a weather and forecast channel. On-air meteorologists were required to be intelligent but encouraged to be personable and spontaneous - in other words, be human. In the recent past at The Weather Channel, insight and questioning seem not to be priorities when it comes to evaluating weather.)