McMicken College of Arts & Sciences logo

FaceBook   Twitter   Digg!

Wonders of Weather Put Geography Major on Career Track

Shaun Finley's mother probably could have forecast what profession her son would choose back when she called him her "little weatherman."

Date: 10/17/2006
By: Britt Kennerly
Phone: (513) 556-8577
Shaun Finley's mother probably could have forecast what profession her son would choose back when she called him her "little weatherman."

She might not have known, however, the force with which he'd storm toward a career in meteorology. Finley, a physical geography major with a 3.70 GPA, recently completed an internship with Channel 5 – a position he actively researched and sought out.

Now, the A&S junior is using just a smidgen of what he learned at Channel 5 on campus, with 11:15 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. weather updates for Bearcast.

"They think it’s great at Channel 5 … They told me to go for it,” said Finley, whose on-air name is Shaun Ryan. "It will help as I build my resume."

Shaun Finley

A&S junior Shaun Finley came away from a Channel 5 internship with a demo tape and a strong interest in an on-air meteorology career.

Finley’s stint at the TV station came about through a lot of pluck and a little luck.

“I didn’t know how to go about it, so I wrote e-mail to all the meteorologists in the Tristate area, saying, ‘This is where I want to go. How do I get from here to there?’ he said. “John Bateman from Channel 5 called, and we talked for an hour and a half.”

A June 13-Sept. 17 internship blossomed from that call. Finley’s summer duties included interpreting forecast maps and numerical date from the National Meteorological Center; creating computer graphics with the Genesis Live:LT System; running and interpreting data from dual radars; and practicing on-air delivery in front of the Chroma-key wall.

“I learned how to work in front of a camera, how to project and speak, more about radar,” Finley said. And, he said with a laugh, “I know where to point at the board as I look at the camera.”

Finley has been encouraged by the support of Colleen McTague of the Geography department, an assistant professor and director of undergraduate studies who has “helped me since I first walked in her office,” he said.

“Shaun is highly focused on his future in broadcast weather,” McTague said. “His enthusiasm and drive spills over to other geography majors, which encourages them to pursue their career goals." Channel 5’s Bateman, too, was impressed.

“We were happy with his work, attitude and willingness to learn,” he said.

Even as a child, Finley liked a dose of the elements along with his cartoons and toys – “I had a weather kit I played with,” he said.

“I watched Jim Cantore on The Weather Channel back when he was just a regular guy – now he’s a superstar.”

Shaun Finley

Shaun Finley

Finley became truly enamored of weather in 1985, when Hurricane Elena hit West Central Florida and Finley saw its effect on Tampa. The storm caused the evacuation of more than 300,000 people and more than $1 billion in damage from Florida to Louisiana.

“Everybody was evacuating,” Finley said. “So I ran out into the storm, to see sheets of horizontal rain and into the gale-force winds … from that day on, I was highly fascinated.”

He also loved the desert, down to the smell of rain there, during his family’s time in Las Vegas when he was a teenager: “You’d see great dust storms,” he said.

As for recent storms, Finley accompanied a camera team to Morrow during tornadic June weather. It was exciting, he said, to see TV crews vying to get news on the air first – and for that story, Channel 5 took the honors.

He is confident he’ll reach his goal, whichever way the wind blows.

“I didn’t have air time this summer – but I do have a demo tape,” he said. “I want to go into broadcast meteorology, reporting out in the field, on-air, during natural disasters.”

More A&S News | A&S Home | A&S Research | UC News | UC Home