The weather toss and the sports toss are the two places in a newscast when on-air talent get to shine. Most shows are so tightly scripted these days that this is about the only place for talent interaction. In most shows, the weather and sports talent have a brief on-air conversation with the news anchors just prior to their segment. The goal of this component is to show a bit of personality, and to carry viewers into the next part of the program. Because these are usually unscripted, these can be some of the most dynamic moments of the show.
Just like a tease before a break, this part of the show needs to demonstrate to viewers that great stuff is coming up and they should stick around. While it is important to not overproduce these natural moments, following a loosely structured agenda here is just a smart idea. This is because most anchors can do a good job of demonstrating camaraderie in the toss, but they can also inadvertently skewer the reporter, weather, or sports person who is about to start their segment.
Far too often, the topic of these tosses catches the arriving talent completely unaware. The weather person is forced to perform some verbal gymnastics, desperately trying to get the show back on track. The weather person is sometimes asked a question that she is not prepared to answer. Or worst of all, she is forced to prematurely expose a critical fact in her forecast, which throws off the pacing and build of her entire presentation.
A good toss should smoothly transition to the important story of the day. During the previous break, the weather and sportscaster should give the news anchors a short promotable point to make during the toss. Give the main anchors a specific item to use in the last sentence of the toss. There is no need to rehearse. We just want to make sure everyone is on the same page. For example:
“It sure was sunny today, but I understand some big changes are on the way.”
This open ended comment foreshadows the complexity and importance of the weather forecast. This kind of comment is a little gift that the news anchors should give the weather person each day. Another example:
“I have never seen it rain that hard. Wow, what an amazing storm today.”
Again, you have provided the weather person with a perfect set up to show her expertise.
Above all, make sure the news anchors do not give away the forecast:
“I understand we’re in for rain on Thursday followed by clearing for the weekend.”
“I’m so glad the fog is finally going to clear out.”
Comments like these are like standing up in a theater and yelling out how the movie will end. They torpedo a weather forecast by disclosing the big finish.
Graeme Newell is a broadcast and web marketing specialist who serves as the president and founder of 602 communications. You can reach Graeme at firstname.lastname@example.org.