MILFORD – At one time or another, you’ve said this:
“Wow, this is some really funny weather.”
But have you ever said this:
“Wow, that is some really funny weatherman.”
Well, there’s a good chance that the 40-plus people who crowded the meeting room at the Wadleigh Memorial Library on March 13 might have said just that because Josh Judge, one of three weather forecasters at WMUR-TV, kept cracking them up.
Judge regaled them with weather facts, of course, but they loved his stories about happenings on the set or his battles with fellow weather forecaster Kevin Skorupa over what exact temperature to predict (Skorupa, he said, is much more conservative). Judge spoke for more than an hour, then signed, and sold at a steep discount, copies of his books and if he went five minutes without getting a laugh, it was a lot.
Weather forecasting, he said, “is such a strange job.”
Not only that, because he’s on TV, there’s hardly any place he can go without being recognized. A case in point: He was a tad late for his talk at the Wadleigh because as he was coming through Amherst on Route 101, he was held up by an auto accident.
A police officer approached his car to explain, as he had been doing with other drivers, about the delay. The officer saw Judge and said:
“Oh, Channel 9’s already covering this.”
The crowd broke up.
“I guess we are fast,” Judge joked. “But that illustrates what it’s like to be me. It’s a very strange job. I can go anywhere in New Hampshire and people know who I am and what I do and they either like me or dislike me, that’s just part of the game, being on TV. Some people think you’re great and some people don’t care either way and some people hate you.”
Somebody shouted out, “We love you,” and Judge responded, “I know that I can say things like that in a room full of people who came to see me, right?”
Again the crowd broke up.
Judge explained that his job is a bit more complicated than it might seem: It doesn’t involve just going in front of the camera and talking about the weather.
“I have to do all the forecasting first,” he said. “We make all the maps ourselves, that map we stand in front of? We make those on the computer ourselves. We make the forecast and there’s a bunch of other stuff we have to do. The best I’ve been able to time it out, to be at work and ready to go at 5 a.m. means getting up at 1:05.”
Still, it was clear that he has a job that he loves and equally clear that the personality he exhibits on television is real. That’s something upon which he prides himself. He lives, he said, by these credoes:
“Be yourself. Have a little bit of fun about it. Show real personality.”
He certainly did that at the library. He told the crowd how he and his fellow forecasters use computers and computer generated weather maps to figure out their five-day forecast. And he explained, with an element of pride, that WMUR is one of the few stations in the nation that holds to a five-day forecast while others have gone to seven-day or even 10.
“Mike (Hadad), Kevin and I fought for that,” he said, referring to his weather forecasting partners on the station. “It’s almost like a lie if we tell you we can predict 10 days out. Having more than a five-day forecast is really a disservice because people are planning around that.”
The forecasters do, however, differ sometimes. For instance, while Judge considers himself something of a conservative when it comes to predicting the weather, Skorupa is, he said, even more so. So if Judge says a particular day is going to see a high of 60, Skorupa might say, instead, that the high will be 58 or even lower, trying to hold down the number of telephone and email complaints that will come in to the station if that high isn’t reached.
And, Judge said, the complaints do come in.
“If you promise 70 and it only gets to 68, people want your hide,” he said. “If I think it’s going to be really warm, I’ll talk it down a little. Kevin likes to talk it down more.”
But they try not to have huge differences, he said, and write each other a lot of notes and emails.
What people can’t tell from watching him on TV is that he isn’t using a script, nor is he using a teleprompter, and while he’s delivering his forecast, a producer is talking in his ear, sometimes just telling how much time he has left, then counting down the seconds, but sometimes telling him – while Judge is talking – that instead of just signing off, he needs to say something specific about the next story.
Oh, and he really mustn’t, as he’s just talking, say “Um” or “Ah.”
“Try it sometime,” he suggested to the crowd. “It’s not easy.”
Also not easy sometimes is predicting what’s going to happen on the set, thanks to his fellow news- and sportscasters. Once, Judge told the audience, he was to end his weathercast by returning to the anchor desk and sitting down but when he got there – and the camera was on him – he discovered that sportscaster Jamie Staton had hidden his chair. But the director needed him to sit, so he “sat,” i.e., he squatted into a “sitting” position behind the desk and did his signoff spiel.
But, newscaster Amy Covino, seeing what was going on, kept asking him questions, apparently enjoying herself.
That’s not surprising, given Judge’s personality: The audience at the Wadleigh enjoyed him, too, and he didn’t even have to pretend to sit.
Michael Cleveland can be contacted at 673-3100, Ext. 301, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.