Thursday, March 4, 2010

Rebecca Barry: Five questions with...

Rebecca Barry (Class of ’05) received her communications degree from JU and her masters in meteorology from Mississippi State University before returning to northeast Florida to be part of the on-air meteorological team at WJXT-TV. She appeared at JU on March 2nd to discuss her career and offer insight through the Dolphin Alumni Speaker Series. Here is a sample of what she shared.

1. What is the typical day like for an on-air meteorologist? What portion focuses on the “on-air” part and what portion focuses on the “meteorologist” part?

My day starts early. I am up between 4:00-4:30 a.m. and heading into work by 5:30. I do my own hair and makeup and formulate my own forecast. Most of my morning is spent building and rendering the graphics that appear behind me when I'm at the “chroma wall.” I spend a lot of time figuring out how to best tell the weather story of that day and how it will influence your day. The weekend morning show runs from 7-9 a.m. and I do two weather updates every half hour, as well as help co-host interview and cooking segments. After the show I update our Facebook page, Twitter pages,, and and shoot a web forecast. I go home for a couple of hours, hit the gym and get ready for the evening shows. I am back at the station by 4:30 p.m. where I get ready for the 6 and 10 p.m. shows. I am usually back home by midnight, which gives me a couple of hours to sleep and get ready to do it again on Sunday.

As for how my day is divided, I would say most of it is spent on the meteorological aspect. At least 60%.

2. The United States has seen some unique weather patterns thus far in 2010, with 49 out of 50 states having snow at one point. Why is this year so unique?

A combination of factors has contributed to this chillier-than-usual winter. Not to get too technical, but the position of the jet stream and the Arctic Oscillation are interacting in a manner that is conducive to polar, arctic air sinking down into the U.S., resulting in below average temperatures and record snowfall events. We have had years similar to this one in the past - in fact 2003 was similar - but we love our mild winters here in the Sunshine State.

3. Who are some of your heroes, both personally and professionally?

Professionally- George Winterling. He is a legend in the meteorological world, and one of the kindest, most considerate people I've known. Working with him will always be one of the high points of my career. I admire Kelly Ripa also. I'd love to have an ounce of her magnetic personality and humor.

Personal heroes include my parents, who worked incredibly hard to ensure I had the best chance for success in life. I also look up to Dr. Green, my speech professor while I was here at JU. He leads a driven life to help others, and I truly admire that.

4. A question we ask all participants in our “Five questions with….” series is when you were a college freshman, what did you think you would be doing when you were 30?

As a freshman, I imagined myself at thirty trying to break into the Jacksonville market, or at least get close. I thought I'd have a family and a career that was just getting into high gear. Now I'm rethinking that. I was hired in Jacksonville at 22 and still have four years until 30, so now more than ever, I am not sure what lies ahead, but I am excited. Life has been faster than I'd planned on my career path. No complaints though!

5. It is estimated that only about a quarter of the meteorologists in the country are female. What advice would you offer a woman (JU alumni or otherwise) attempting to get into the industry?

Being a female in this field has clearly been advantageous for me in my career, and if you are looking to do the same, you will have perks as well. What you should know is there is a stereotype you will encounter. You should get the education you need to shatter that stereotype. Don't let anyone have the opportunity to judge your intelligence purely based on being a female. Every day, every moment you will fight that battle of credibility. While you will get hired in larger markets faster and move up more quickly than most of your male counterparts, breaking into Senior and Chief Meteorologist positions will be much more difficult.

Learn more about what Rebecca at

As part of the Dolphin Network blog, we will conduct interviews with distinguished guests and alumni that visit the JU campus.

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