The AP’s David Bauder takes a look at the new Weather Channel — fewer live weather updates and more weather-related reality programming — and Al Roker’s part in it.
Viewers know Roker primarily for trading quips and giving forecasts as part of the “Today” show team, but off-screen he operates a thriving production company that supplies material to Spike, HGTV, A&E, The Cooking Channel and now The Weather Channel. “The previous management didn’t really see the big picture,” Roker said. “They didn’t think the audience would watch these kinds of shows.”
Bauder says the network is working on shows “featuring Arctic pilots, iron workers, wind turbine and power line repairers and Coast Guard rescuers in both icy and tropical climates.” The network will debut at least one new show every month for the rest of the year.
The goal is to expand to three hours of entertainment programming in primetime, and also air some of those shows during the day.
The Weather Channel is the latest NBCU entity (part of a consortium with Bain Capital and The Blackstone Group) to dive into reality programming. Bravo is deep into reality and recently CNBC hired a VH1 executive to oversee its move into primetime alternative programming.
“Everybody needs to evolve,” Roker tells Bauder. The Weather Channel “is a different channel today than it was even a year ago and I think it’s for the better.”