Weathering the storm: Cobb-based Weather Channel celebrates 30th anniversary
by Sheri Kell
May 02, 2012 12:00 AM | 5602 views | 2 2 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print

On-camera meteorologists Heather Tesch, left, Nick Walker are the hosts of The Weather Channel show ‘Day Planner.’ The Cobb-based TV channel celebrates its 30th anniversary today.<br>Staff/Laura Moon
On-camera meteorologists Heather Tesch, left, Nick Walker are the hosts of The Weather Channel show ‘Day Planner.’ The Cobb-based TV channel celebrates its 30th anniversary today.
Staff/Laura Moon
COBB COUNTY — On May 2, 1982, in a modest Cobb County studio with wooden walls and a logo made of cork, two meteorologists went live with The Weather Channel’s first on-air broadcast. Today, The Weather Channel celebrates its 30th anniversary with a look back on the experiment that would forever shape worldwide weather coverage.

Since those humble beginnings, The Weather Channel has become a household name and a ubiquitous presence on televisions, computers, smartphones and handheld devices. From its global headquarters on Interstate Parkway North, The Weather Channel broadcasts current conditions and forecasts for more than 98,000 locations worldwide, along with local and regional radars from a state-of-the-art, LEED-certified, HD studio built in 2007.

To celebrate the milestone, The Weather Channel is airing special programming across its television, online and mobile platforms that includes a retrospective of the first 30 years and the technological advances in weather forecasting. The channel will also replay some of the most significant severe weather events; as well as a few bloopers throughout the decades.

Also beginning today, visitors at The Weather Channel’s will see a new look. The site, which receives 1 billion views per month, will offer a simpler design, more localized news content, increased social integration and enhanced maps, according to Marietta resident Cameron Clayton, executive vice president of digital products.

The website launched in 1995. In 1996, the company first experimented with social media by allowing customers to submit questions that were later answered on TV and online.

The current “content center”, where employees aggregate and distribute all TV, digital and mobile content, was not always connected to the global forecast center, live broadcast studios and the master control room as it is today. Clayton said the company receives between 300 and 500 weather related photos and videos per day from users. The high-tech space opened the week before Hurricane Irene hit in 2011, he said.

Clayton said they have people across the company on call 24-hours a day, 365 days a year in the event of severe weather.

“We are trying to make people’s lives easier and safer,” he said. “We try to put the information where the people are.”

CEO David Kenny said the company would continue to expand the content it offers across varying platforms.

“Going forward, The Weather Channel will continue focusing on weather — that will always be at our core — but we’ll also continue to grow, experiment and innovate,” he said. “We’re trying out new content on air, focusing on exciting stories and relevant video that make sense for distribution across our platforms — television, online, mobile and tablet.”

The Weather Channel was a brainchild of family-owned Landmark Communications, a privately held media conglomerate headquartered in Norfolk, Va. It was sold in 2008 to a consortium of NBCUniversal, and private equity firms Bain Capital and The Blackstone Group. Today, the company has 1,110 employees in the U.S. and United Kingdom, 800 of whom work in the Cobb county headquarters.

“Thirty years ago, the Internet and mobile apps weren’t even in the picture, so you can only guess what might come up in the next 30 years but The Weather Channel will continue to be there as technology and weather information evolves,” Kenny said.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
May 02, 2012
John Coleman, one of the founders of the Weather Channel deserves a lot of credit but unfortunately, he was not mentioned. This man did a really innovative thing, it was great while it lasted and I, for one, miss being able to turn to the channel and actually see weather. Instead we get a steady stream of talking heads and "innovative" programs. Oh, and don't forget "global warming".

A lot of us still miss you, John, wherever you may be.
May 02, 2012
Happy 30th The Weather Channel! Glad to see this covered by the MDJ.

TWC Employee
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