Duo hoping for clear skies on talk show

Berk, Pann to say lots about the weather

April 09, 2005|By Rob Hiaasen | Rob Hiaasen,SUN STAFF

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does a radio talk show about it.

Enter weather dudes Tony Pann and Justin Berk - forecast-swapping friends and now hosts of a new weekly radio call-in show, Weather Talk. Beginning tomorrow, the one-hour show will air on WCBM-AM 680 at 3 p.m.

Be still our beeping Doppler radar.

Radio listeners might ask, do we need a weekly talk show about weather? Don't we already have The Weather Channel? Didn't Bob Dylan famously sing, "You don't need a weatherman to tell you which way the wind blows"?

Of course, Dylan never forecast snow in Baltimore only to be wrong or, more likely, not entirely accurate.

"People love to spew venom at weather people," says Pann, a meteorologist at WUSA-TV in Washington and formerly at WBAL-TV in Baltimore.

It's impossible to forecast when obscene venom might be coming your way on the radio, so the show will air on a seven-second delay.

At least, local weather forecasters don't face fines: Moscow's mayor recently vowed to fine the city's weather service for what he called blown forecasts. In the United States, forecasters who ruin our weekends are merely tarred and feathered for a day or two.

"It's the one or two forecasts you miss that everyone remembers," says Berk, a meteorologist at WMAR-TV in Baltimore.

Both men believe there will be no shortage of callers or topics. They might play snatches of weather songs from "Stormy Weather" to "Have You Ever Seen The Rain?" They'll have a personal forecasting segment for people wanting to know if it will be a good day to boat or golf or whatever. If all politics is local, all weather is, well, local, too.

Pann and Berk (sounds like a magician's team) will take on the cosmic questions, such as: what is the difference between partly sunny and partly cloudy? We thought they'd never ask. Partly sunny means there are more clouds than sun; partly cloudy is more sun than clouds. Yes, it sounds backward, and, yes, the person who came up with that should be fined.

On their inaugural show, they plan to deconstruct the myth that all weather forecasts come from one omnipotent source. Listeners will get an insider's look at forecasting computer models: what they are, how they are used and how they can be wrong or wrongly interpreted.

"Computer models have biases," Pann says. "You need a meteorologist to throw his two cents into what the computer is thinking."

The success of their show - or any radio show with hosts - will rest not only on mercurial subject matter but also on their chemistry. Pann considers himself a more conservative forecaster - "a sunny, calm day," if you will. "Justin is more like scattered thunderstorms with wind gusts of up to 60 mph," Pann says.

"He said that? Well, he might think I am stormy and more hungry for snow than he is," Berk says from his respective cell phone. "Tony is going to try to make himself look like the better forecaster."

They are starting to sound like the ghosts of Siskel & Ebert. But these guys are friends, really, just a couple of "battling weather dudes," as Pann says.

And just in case Weather Talk gets too stormy, there's that seven-second delay. Time enough to chill out.

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