Sam Champion Wants to Make The Weather Channel a One-Stop Shop for News

Also, thoughts on naming storms


Name Sam Champion

Age 52

New gig Managing editor, anchor,The Weather Channel

Old gig Weather anchor, Good Morning America

You've said that your new morning show, AMHQ, will cover news, business, sports and other nonweather topics. Will that all be through the prism of weather?

Weather affects every story—whether the event happened, whether people got there on time. If you're talking about the president's State of the Union address and he's going to talk about climate change, how does that story "go through the prism of weather"? It's a factual story. Weather is part of it.

But would you cover, say, a tech IPO or what's going on in Ukraine?

Yes. Our audience really likes weather, but they're also people with varied interests and ideas. They will dip into us and get weather and dip out to get news and then come back. We don't want you to have to do that. I want you to get a full understanding of weather, because it's the most important thing you need to know for making your plans, and then we're going to stack in that other stuff that you need as well.

Is there still a need for people to watch the network on TV when they can get it from an app?

A lot of people were caught off guard in an ice storm in Atlanta that was well forecasted because they didn't get an understanding for the storm. They checked an app, and it said, "It starts snowing at noon, and it's done at 7 o'clock." You need to have an expert tell you how it's going to impact your area.

The network has been criticized for having too much nonweather-related content. Do you think that's a problem?

When TWC was first purchased, there was a group that came in and said, "They're a cable channel, so let's do what cable channels do that make money. And what does TNT do? Well, they play movies at night. So we're going to play movies at night!" As a viewer, it pissed me off. I wanted The Weather Channel to give me weather. It's run by different people now, and they're back to weather. We are only doing original programming from about 8 o'clock at night until midnight or 2 a.m., and all of that has an environment and weather tilt. You couldn't do more live content weather than we do.

Is this winter as bad as it seemed, or are we all just overreacting?

No, it's really, really worse. For the Northeast, which has had calm winters for the past five to eight years, to be pounded with snow and ice and cold, one after another, it's not normal.

Is extreme weather good for you as a weatherman because everyone's talking about it?

More people are paying attention to the weather right now, and I think it's great that they're paying attention. But I hate when people go through bad weather. If you live in a part of the country that has tornadoes every year, you should not be surprised by them, and I want you to be prepared to live through them.

Photo: Alfred Maskeroni