How to Write a Great Weather ID

By Graeme Newell 

In past articles, I’ve talked about how to write a great news ID, but what about weather? Just as with other short promos, there is never enough time to properly convey the intricacies of complex weather coverage in a short ID. Conveying distinctive weather coverage usually requires large tracts of promo real estate. So shake off that eighth-grade English teacher guilt and resign yourself to writing IDs using sentence fragments. It is the only way to make them work.

The ideal weather promo will have three parts:

1) The attention grabber – “Rain coming…”

The sole goal of this line is to grab attention and let viewers know the weather is changing. These few words are the most important of the entire ID. Viewing of weather goes way up when inclement weather is on the way.

Most weather talent begin weather IDs the same way they begin a weathercast – with the current conditions: “Sure was a sunny day out there today.” Weather promos should never be about current or past conditions. They should always be about the future and the changes that are inevitable. Don’t promote past weather. All of us went outside today and don’t need a recap in the promo.

What should you do if there is no weather in the forecast? There is NEVER no weather in a forecast. The changes may not arrive for a few days, but weather is always changing. Even in markets like San Diego and Los Angeles, the weathercaster will find a way to fill two or three minutes talking about how the weather is changing. Look west for the next storm.

Remember that clearing inclement weather is just as sellable as the next storm on the way. Promise the changing conditions as that current storm makes its way out of the area.

Keep the attention grabber as short as possible – two or three words at the most:
“Clearing finally…”
“Wild temperature swings…”
“Clouds on the way…”
“Big changes coming…”

2) The promise line – “Which cities will be completely destroyed…”

The promise line should contain a specific promise of enterprising weather coverage. The goal of this line is not to give away the forecast, but to whet the appetite for more information.

We want to leave the audience with the impression that a lot of interesting weather changes are on the way, but there is just too much to tell in a simple ID. They need to tune in the newscast to get the full story about these wildly varying weather conditions. We want to convey a complexity in the forecast.

The most important thing to avoid here is any sort of question. When we ask questions about the weather, we are toying with viewers. “Will it rain? I know and you don’t!” Most importantly, the answer to this question is “yes” or “no.” This one-word answer does not properly convey the depth of your forecast. I can get “will it rain” from any web site in the nation. If I’m to tune in your weathercast, you better show me how incredibly in-depth and complete your forecast will be.

3) The time and channel – “Next on ten.”

Again, keep this tag to an absolute minimum number of words – two or three at the most. No marketing lines, no “newscenter” or “eyewitness news” lines – just time and channel number.

Sometimes weather conditions are so volatile that more time is needed to alert viewers to the severity. In situations like this, it is okay to forgo the promise line. For example:
“A big storm threatening metro neighborhoods. Next on Eight.”

If time is tight, then leave out the promise line, but make sure that the attention grabber foretells a major weather change. Just remember that this kind of ID encourages viewers to watch ANYBODY’s weather, not just your weather.

Graeme Newell is a broadcast and web marketing specialist who serves as the president and founder of 602 communications. You can reach Graeme at gnewell@602commu