Brian Hartman is a producer/meteorologist at WeatherNation. It is a 24/7 national weather network based out of Denver, Colorado. I did not have the chance to interview him in person because Hartman lives so far, but I did get the chance to interview him over email. I sent him my nine questions and he sent me his responses on March 6. Hartman, a 2013 graduate of Chester High School, is a very nice man, and I thought it was a coincidence that it was his birthday the day I emailed him!
I started with some basic, easy interview questions to gather some information on his opinion. Hartman seems to love what he does, so when asked why he decided that meteorology was his path, he responded with, “I’ve always had an interest in science, even from an early age. I knew that whatever I did in life was going to include science in some way. I loved the idea of working in television, and I definitely had a love for science, so I figured I might as well combine the two.” He also mentioned when he was younger, he was terrified of storms and did not find an interest in the weather. I found that to be interesting since he is a meteorologist. But he got over his fear soon, and said, “Learning the science and the processes of what was going on outside got me past my fear. I watched the weather every chance I could and looked up to the local meteorologists in the area.” Hartman said that once he got to high school and everyone kept asking him what he was going to be, “it all kind of clicked” when he chose meteorology. His family would joke around and say that he was going to be a meteorologist one day because “they can be wrong half the time and still keep their job.” I found that to be funny because they are basically roasting the meteorologists for always being wrong. But I knew I had to respect the local weather forecasters.
Knowing that Hartman studied meteorology, I asked him what college he went to. He responded with, “I studied at Eastern Illinois University, where I did a Bachelors of Science in Geography, and Bachelors of Arts in Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Meteorologist and Earth Science.” This information was very helpful for me because I want to stay in Illinois for college and maybe study meteorology so this gave me a good idea of the path I could take. EIU doesn’t solely have a meteorology degree, but he said that allowed him to focus his Geography studies in Weather and Climate, so he still understood the weather and what was going on with it. He also mentioned that his journalism degree gave him experience with television and will help with the broadcasting part of his job.
I stuck with the education questions for the interview because I want to know more about it if I do pick this as my major. The next question I asked was, what classes/courses are needed and he responded with, “This depends on what school and program you go into. I did a Geography degree and geared my classes towards Weather and Climate. So I took classes such as Weather and Climate, Severe Weather and Thermodynamics, Broadcast Meteorology, and more.” He also added that a lot of advanced math courses would be required if I were to go to a university such as Penn State or Oklahoma. I know that a lot of science and math is needed for the meteorology field, but then he mentioned this, “A vast majority of people who go through programs such as them usually end up with Math minors or even become double majors in Math,” and I was very surprised to hear that. Higher level math and physics are just a few of the classes he took, other than the basic weather courses. The type of courses that are taken just depend on what school and path is chosen. He also mentioned, “I knew I wanted to be on TV, so Eastern’s program was great for me because it gave me the ability to forecast accurately, and provided me with television experience. Plus, they didn’t require all the super-advanced math courses that aren’t entirely needed to learn how to forecast.” I thought that was great information for me to hear because that is exactly what I want to do without the hard math classes, because who likes math.
Knowing that he wanted to be a meteorologist since high school, and we are in the same boat, I was wondering what he would suggest to a high schooler. His response was, “Get out there and start learning as much as you can now! The National Weather Service offers storm spotter training classes for free. Take one! It’s a great introduction to the field and severe weather. I did and it really helped push me into this field.” He also said that networking would be good, too. “Local news outlets love to have future journalists/meteorologists come in. Reach out to your favorite Meteorologists! They are usually incredibly friendly and more than welcome to help you get on the path to becoming a Meteorologist as well.” I rarely watch the news nowadays, but since he said that I am going to have to watch and find a favorite to contact. He also mentioned that internships would be great learning experiences and the opportunities are endless. Another tip Hartman suggested was that paying attention to the weather would be good for someone who wants to pursue a career in meteorology. He said to pay attention to what is going on, and I will eventually pick up on things. “Look for patterns in the weather and try and piece together the puzzle. You can learn a lot from watching the weather repeat itself.” I can agree with him because it is like practice and will give me an extra boost in my future.
For the final question, I asked if there was anything that I was missing and did not ask. He responded with, “NEVER say, ‘Oh well, you can be right 50% of the time and still keep your job.’ Meteorologists work extremely hard to get the forecast right. Again, we’re predicting the future. No one is ever going to get it right every single time. Just in general, be nice to Meteorologists.” He went on to say that just because the local weather person got the forecast wrong once does not mean that it will happen again. They are trying their best. People make mistakes and not everyone is perfect.
From emailing Hartman, I can tell that he is a very friendly and funny guy. He is so open to talk to, reached me right away and had no problem with the interview. He even said a few jokes throughout the interview, and I thought it was humorous. I learned plenty of new information, and I know that it is all 100% reliable. Hearing another person talk about their path and how he accomplished it really inspired me. I’d say that Brian Hartman is now one of my favorite weather forecasters.