Monica Ott

Class of 2006
Meteorologist for WEAU
Eau Claire, Wis.

At 2 a.m., most people in Eau Claire, Wisconsin are fast asleep. While they may be dreaming of the day ahead, meteorologist Monica Ott is forecasting it. She uses the early morning time in the TV station to prepare her script and weather graphics. At 4:30, she gives the first forecast on WEAU’s Hello Wisconsin morning show.

“I’m there first thing when people wake up. It’s really a privilege to be one of the first people they see,” she says.

Meteorology is what drew Monica to Valpo, and she pursued a major in the geography and meteorology department. That training gave her the scientific background to confidently forecast. Because she intended to work in television, Monica also pursued a minor in radio and television communication, taking courses on studio television production, video editing, and weathercasting. She developed her skills in an internship with prominent Chicago weatherman Tom Skilling.

Monica worked full time for several years before returning in 2012 to teach Valpo’s Weathercasting and Advanced Weathercasting courses. Her syllabi covered news writing and timing, TV lingo, and practice with weather graphics programs and the chroma key (“green screen”). She also coached students about the inevitable surprises of an on-air job.

“The best advice I can give others is ‘prepare for the unexpected,’” she says. “I’ve had live crickets in the studio, chirping so loudly I thought they could be heard on the microphones. Because I’ve learned to stay calm in those unexpected moments, that is a funny memory for me and not an embarrassing one.”

Monica also advised her students to be realistic about the lifestyle realities of the job: like many broadcasters, TV meteorologists advance their careers by moving to larger and larger markets. Monica’s career has taken her to Michigan, New Jersey, Indiana, and now Wisconsin.

It’s a part of the job, she says, just like the early mornings.

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