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An Article from the Florida State Times, September 1998

FSU GRADUATES DOMINATE WEATHER CASTING IN NYC

By Scott Atwell
FSU Communications Group

The weather phenomenon of the year may not be El Nino, after all, at least not in the world of television weather casting. In New York City, an equally rare occurrence is in the air - or on it - as alumni from a single university are dominating the local television forecasts in the nation's largest media market.

The university is Florida State, and the FSU products at the top of television's Mount Everest are Janice Huff, lead meteorologist at WNBC since 1995, and Mark Danon, who in August was promoted to the top weather position at WCBS.

"It's very rare, incredible, and bodes well for FSU's meteorology program," says Danon. "I'm very proud to be a part of it."

And so are the networks. Each week the two from FSU reach beyond the 14 million viewers of the New York market and take their forecasts nationally. Danon started anchoring weather on the "CBS Saturday Morning" show in January, and Huff is forecaster on the Saturday edition of "Today" on NBC, where she has been known to toot her FSU horn, especially when Seminole fans show up outside the NBC studios on Rockefeller Plaza.

"I'm proud of where I came from, and I'm proud of what Florida State gave to me," says Huff. "It's my little way of paying the school back.

"I feel privileged and honored that I was chosen (to work in New York), because I'm one of the few. It's not easy getting here. It's a long, hard road, and I know that not everybody gets the chance."

For Huff, the workweek also includes nightly forecasts for CNBC's "The News With Brian Williams."

Huff is a gifted communicator, warm and percolating with a personality that can make even the most distant viewer feel like an old friend. But her earliest professional intentions had nothing to do with communications.

"I was very interested in the weather since I was a little girl. My favorite movie is the 'Wizard of Oz.' I loved the tornado and always knew I wanted to study meteorology."

Huff grew up in Columbia, S.C., and was accepted by all the major meteorology programs in the nation, but her first campus visit was to FSU and "right then I was in love. I never visited the other schools."

At FSU Huff immersed herself in the science of meteorology, spending long hours in the Love Building going over physics and forecasting. Her goal was to land a job at the National Weather Service, but as her senior year neared, a government hiring freeze made the outlook, well, cloudy.

A friend suggested she enroll in a communications course and consider television forecasting, but it wasn't a snap decision.

"When I was growing up in South Carolina watching the news, I never saw anybody who looked like me doing the weather on TV," says Huff, an African-American. "So it was never one of those things where I thought, 'Oh yeah, I can do that.' "

The National Weather Service's loss has been television's gain. Upon her graduation in 1982, Huff landed a TV forecasting job in Chattanooga. A year later she moved up in market size to Columbus, Ga., and then St. Louis and San Francisco before the New York job returned Huff to her birthplace, Manhattan. Along the way of her 17-year career Huff has won many awards and even more hearts.

"This is me. This is who I am, and I've always been this way, which is a good thing, because if you're going to go on TV and talk about anything, you better have a little personality."

The route to New York has been more direct for Danon, who has reached the broadcasting peak at age 27.

Five days after leaving FSU in 1995, Danon was on the air at News-12 Connecticut, his hometown station. A year and a half later, he was hired by WCBS to handle the weekend forecasts, and this summer he was promoted to the lead job.

"I wouldn't have known where to even start looking for a TV job if it weren't for Dr. (Jon) Alquist's weather casting class and Mike McCall," says Danon.

McCall, who is also a Florida State alumnus, is the Tallahassee weatherman for whom Danon interned.

What's even more unusual about having two FSU graduates forecasting in New York, says Danon, is that both are meteorologists. He explains that many large markets hire meteorologists to make the forecast and weather "personalities" to present the information on air.

But from Huff and Danon, New Yorkers are getting the forecast firsthand, and Danon credits the education he received at FSU.

"We cover a very large area, ranging from sea level to 1,000 feet," says Danon. "You know the old saying, 'if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes?'

"New Yorkers are very demanding and have little tolerance for incorrect forecasts. They want it right, and they want it right now. I'm confident of my ability to forecast."

Despite their Florida backgrounds, it's unlikely that Danon and Huff can guarantee there will always be sunshine in the New York forecast.

But there will be a Seminole.

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Department of Meteorology, The Florida State University
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