For 26 years, Belinda Jensen has been serving the Twin Cities community as a meteorologist at KARE-TV. Today, she was kind enough to answer questions for my #TVTuesday blog.
1. What led you to become interested in weather and television?
I always loved nature and spent most of my childhood outside on the beautiful St. Croix river banks where I grew up with 4 siblings. The love of nature, turned into a passion for earth science and that led to meteorology.
2. How has the business changed from when you started with the new technology and the multi-platforms now in play?
I have been at KARE for 26 years, crazy right! Things have changed dramatically in my department, as they have in all of our industry. We used to forecast by printing weather maps on a huge LOUD map printer and hanging them on a map wall, we would then use color pencils and spend a lot of time forecasting, once we had it figured out, then we would send forecast information to another spot in the newsroom to create the forecast pages, and we would write a column for the local paper on a typewriter and then send the column on a fax machine! We might recite the forecast to a phone recording for folks, but other than that we would then just prepare a few maps and get ready for the newscasts. These days it is just faster paced, we honestly have less time to forecast but it is much easier to decipher all of the models that are all on computer interfaces, no color penciled required! As soon as we get the forecast done then we are off to the races and we have to get the info on every platform possible, quickly, or at least some of the info so we can still lead people to the actual newscasts. That is the biggest difference people want instant gratification, and their forecast immediately so you do not hold your forecast until the newscasts you put it out there. You are working every day to be the reliable choice for folks since there are so many choices available.
3. With social media pressure, how do you respond when forecasts don’t go as planned?
We always have been transparent about our forecasts. This is the chaos theory after all and we know it will be wrong sometimes but we always point it out and explain why and move forward.
4. Social media has substantially changed your job. For instance, Grow With KARE, which is a franchise you started, now has 20,000+ followers on its Facebook page. What does Grow with KARE mean to you today and how to do you interact with that page?
Grow with KARE is so fun, I have had a chance to do it for 26 years with my dear friend Bobby Jensen. Every week, 52 stories a year are filed even in the dead of winter! My brown thumb has a hint of green now. I love being able to provide such great content that is informative and uplifting to our viewers. We use the Facebook group that continues to grow by leaps and bounds to create content and answer topical questions.
5. Where do you get your story ideas for Grow with KARE – 20 years’ worth of weekly stories?
Grow stories come from so many sources, Bobby has been in this green industry for his entire life so he is really in touch with what is happening. The Arboretum, the Horticultural Society, the U of M, and great partners like Linder’s, Bachman’s, Tonkadale, and Pahl’s have been great resources for stories. Our viewers have always helped us as well and the FB page is making it really fun to get great questions to current issues.
6. Your schedule is packed with nightly newscasts, the KARE Saturday program, taping Grow with KARE packages, charity work, and so much more. Men are generally not asked this question, but women are because I think the balancing act is left to them. How do you handle your work/life balance?
The work/life balance is really tough. I struggle with it every day. It continues to change based on my children’s ages. I take the time I have with them and cherish it. I have breakfast with them but not dinner, so that is my meal to see them. Summer is better because I do not have to go in until the afternoon on most days so I have the entire morning through lunch with them. I fit in whatever I can when I can, and I have said no to many things as the kids needs have grown. People always understand family time comes first.
7. You are an author of a series of children’s books based on Bel the Weather Girl. What did you learn authoring the children’s books? Do you have more books that you would like to write?
The books have been a great project for me. I have always loved getting into schools and talking about weather. The 6 books that I authored stemmed from the content that really lit the light bulbs in the room. It is so gratifying to be in the schools now with my books, the kids really seem to key into these stories and are learning what an amazing science weather is.
Follow Belinda Jensen on Twitter @belindajensen11 or on Facebook at Belinda Jensen (news personality).