When Jim Cantore touches down in a city, it makes the news. During a major weather event like Hurricane Dorian, American news outlets even speculate about his next destination. Because in addition to appearing on shows like AMHQ and Storm Stories: The Next Chapter, Cantore is The Weather Channel’s point man for reporting on severe weather on location. He has superfans everywhere, and when he gets excited about weather, it goes viral. We talked to Jim about his long career in weather, his insane wake-up time, and his biggest mistake.
Location: Atlanta, GA
Current gig: On-Camera Meteorologist at The Weather Channel television network
Current computer: I have a Dell laptop and a monitor and docking station at my desk at HQ. Although people might think I have the fanciest machine, I really don’t. I just need a reliable computer that lets me access all my favourite websites that I keep open in different tabs 24/7.
Current mobile device: I have an Apple iPhone 8. I’m not trying to get the new iPhone right now because I know a lot of the functions are different and I’m the type of person that if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. I just need a phone that lets me access Twitter and communicate with my favourite storm spotters and I’m good.
One word that best describes how you work: Diligent
Tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.
I have always been obsessed with the weather ever since I was a kid, so when I was of age to go to college, my father encouraged me to study meteorology. So I did.
I went to Lyndon State College, and worked at the school’s TV station, and as I was graduating, I got a job offer from The Weather Channel and I was stoked. I aspire to continue working at the network until I retire down the road, so I can say I worked the duration of my career at The Weather Channel.
What are your job responsibilities?
I’m an operational forecaster, and I research data about the weather and as a broadcaster, I have to make this data and information easily digestible to the American public. When I’m reporting in the field, I keep the public informed during big storms and weather events, sharing each update as a play by play, sort of like a sports broadcaster sharing updates during a baseball game.
Take us through a recent workday.
I wake up every day at 3:15am, which is the middle of the freaking night, and that’s the hardest part about my job. Getting up that early wears on you.
The first thing I do after I’m up is I go down to my computer and read all the data about the weather that day. Then I get ready and drive to HQ and arrive about an hour before my show starts. I always know everything I am going to say before I walk in the door.
Once at the office, I go into makeup, get mic-ed up and then host AMHQ [America’s Morning Headquarters]. After my show, I participate in the network’s morning editorial meeting and depending on the day, I might go and do voice recordings for our new show, Storm Stories: The Next Chapter.
After a full day at HQ, I go home and take a nap, then I go and get in a good work out, then eat dinner. I usually wind down for the night around 8 p.m. and I’m asleep by 9:00pm. Then I wake up and do it all over again the next day.
What apps, gadgets, or tools can’t you live without?
What’s your workspace setup like?
At The Weather Channel HQ, I sit close to the news room and studios in an open floor plan. I have a desk, laptop, docking station, two monitors and a desk line. I use one monitor to display current weather, and the other monitor has all of my go-to sites permanently pulled up. I prefer to sit at my desk in an ergonomic chair vs. having a standing desk.
What’s your favourite shortcut or hack?
Using Twitter for weather news-gathering quickly and on the go.
Take us through an interesting, unusual, or finicky process you have in place at work.
A finicky process at work is putting my microphone and IFB on; apparently I never put them on correctly so the floor director always redoes it, haha.
Who are the people who help you get things done, and how do you rely on them?
Weather Producers! Without them, my job is impossible. They get graphics loaded, they get me realtime info when I need it, and so much more. We stay connected through unique studio technology that allows us to communicate in real time.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made at work, and how did you deal with it?
Years ago, I tweeted out information that I was given, but unbeknownst to know me, the intel was wrong, so it looked like I misled my followers but that was not my intention. I issued an apology to my followers at the time and now, I always triple check the info I share so I hopefully never run into that same scenario again.
How do you keep track of what you have to do?
My executive assistant keeps me on track and up-to-date on what’s on my plate. She’s a great person to work with and I’m grateful for her help.
How do you recharge or take a break?
I have a lake house in north Georgia and I go up there and spend time on the water and in the sun. I love spending time with my kids and I also do a lot of landscaping.
What are you currently reading, or what do you recommend?
I’m not a big reader, but I love watching old war movies. Band of Brothers on HBO is the next show on my list to watch. I’ve never binge-watched a show because I have a hard time sitting still, but I want that to be the first thing I binge.
What music do you listen to?
I love 80s rock, like AC/DC and Bruce Springsteen. I also love country music.
Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
Mike Trout, my friend and meteorologist-in-training. (He also happens to be the centre fielder for the Los Angeles Angels.)
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
My Dad told me to “do what you love” because you have to wake up every day and go do that for work, so it better be something you enjoy. That’s why he encouraged me to study meteorology and I’m so glad he did.
What’s a problem you’re still trying to solve?
Life balance. It’s always a challenge trying to be the best dad, employer, friend, partner, and everything in between. I’ve learned to simplify my life to best excel at these roles and that really helps.