Weather People

It would be interesting to see what Channel 4 sports commentator Hank Goldberg could do with the weather report. Between the two of them, Norcross was blessed with most of the hair, but Goldberg got all the panache.

WCIX-TV Channel 6
Maria Genero
Sunday - Thursday at 6:00, 6:30, and 11:00 p.m.

STUDIO: Partly Cloudy
MAPS: Sunny
SPECIAL EFFECTS: Partly Cloudy
DELIVERY: Sunny
FASHION SENSE: Rainy
HAIR: Sunny

You haven't lived until you've watched Maria Genero's weathercast. In the tradition of the "spokesmodel" competition on Ed McMahon's Star Search, Genero is proof that people can be entertaining while having only the vaguest idea of what they're talking about. Enthusiasm is her strongest suit. In fact, besides her all-American-girl good looks, her perfect hair, and her impossibly pert smile, enthusiasm is her only suit.

Not only is Genero animated, she also knows how to animate, and she takes pride in her graphics. The computer-generated portion of a weathercaster's segment can be a reflection of that person's talent and ability; here in Miami, all the local English-language prime-timers paint their own. We're not talking about the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, though; these graphic creations are more along the lines of an Elvis you'd buy in sofa-size black velvet.

Genero scores extra points for a syndicated shtick the station paid tens of thousands of dollars for: "Weatherschool." (Ron Yaros, the St. Louis meteorologist who came up with this brainstorm, must be hauling his royalties to the bank in a wheelbarrow.) In each segment, aired daily, Genero poses a seventh-grade-level multiple-choice question, such as, "The world's biggest snowfall from a single storm was recorded in Alaska, California, or Switzerland." The queries are tailored to a corresponding course supplied to 1000 South Florida classrooms. (For trivia addicts who don't watch Genero, here's the answer: California. In February 1959, Mt. Shasta was buried under 189 inches of snow during a week-long blizzard.)

Born 27 years ago in Niagara Falls, New York, Genero arrived in Miami in 1989 after a two-and-a-half-year stint at WIVB-TV in Buffalo (she worked as a DJ before that), armed with a seal of approval not from the prestigious American Meteorological Society but from something called the National Weather Association, which was bestowed after the completion of a course administered by the University of Mississippi, and an exam. But that, along with her natural gift of gaiety, is obviously sufficient qualification to forecast the nonweather in this town and do it a whole lot more entertainingly than Channel 6's other weatherman, Cliff Morrison - or anybody else in this town, for that matter.

And forecast Genero does. "Look at the humidity! It is so low!" she croons, her Valley Girl accent belying her fashionable-schoolmarm wardrobe, rendering lovable - and enthusiastic - pronunciations such as "tumpacher!" "prusher!" and "duffinutly!" And with the "Someone to watch over you" billboard campaign, Channel 6 has found the perfect slogan to use in plugging their vivacious star forecaster - sure she's pretty, but she's motherly, too.

"I think the weather is mostly about presenting," comments Genero, waxing pensive. "TV weather went from being done by `bunnies' to clowns to meteorologists, and the meteorologists are too dry, they're not any good at presenting the weather." Let's face it, your basic TV viewer is about as acquisitive as a walnut, so there's no reason to cloud the weather report with pesky facts.

WSVN-TV Channel 7
Bob Soper
Monday - Friday from 5:00 to 7:00 and from 10:00 to 11:00 p.m.

STUDIO: Partly Cloudy
MAPS: Partly Cloudy
SPECIAL EFFECTS: Sunny
DELIVERY: Sunny
FASHION SENSE: Rainy
HAIR: Partly Cloudy

Not even Captain Kangaroo could be more genial than Bob Soper, a twelve-year Miami weather veteran. When asked to participate in this meteorological round-up, though, Soper politely declined, citing Channel 7's stationwide ban on answering questions posed by New Times. "They told me you might call and that I couldn't talk to you," he says good-naturedly but firmly. "I'm sorry I can't talk to you. I'd like to help you, but I'm afraid I'd be in deep doo-doo if I talked to you."

Soper, who has been stamped with the AMS Seal of Approval, is the ballast that keeps the Channel 7 newscast from actually lifting off and flying away with hysteria. He's sort of a cross between a friendly uncle and a used-car salesman, and what he lacks in fashion sense (argyle sweaters? Hire a consultant, Bob!) he more than makes up for in incessant plugs for the charitable organizations to which he contributes. Including his own, for crying out loud, Soper's Superkids, which he formed with his wife in order to take disadvantaged kids to events they couldn't otherwise afford to attend.

His tendency to stumble over multisyllable words and to wander out of the camera's field of vision while describing the action on the satellite photograph is perhaps due to the bizarre antics that go on all around him. Like a conservative banker who wears loud ties, Soper's graphics are a splash of spiff; he tends to make conspicuous use of greens and blues, and he has a penchant for little clouds that appear to pour down rain.

WPLG-TV Channel 10
Don Noe
Monday - Friday at 5:00, 6:00, and 11:00 p.m.

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