Tube Talk: Local native Julie Martin joins The Weather Channel

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-116241253721990.jpg’, ‘Photo provided’, ‘Winnebago High School graduate Julie Martin found her way to The Weather Channel after stints with CNN in Atlanta, network affiliates in major markets and WGN-TV.’);

The next time you’re checking out our local forecast on The Weather Channel, don’t be so quick to switch back to CSI: Miami just so you can pretend it’s warm and sunny. If you linger, you just might catch Rockford’s own Julie Martin reporting weather-related stories from the field.

The funny thing? She’s not even a meteorologist.

“I’ve always covered news, and I understand that’s why The Weather Channel hired me,” Martin says. Recent weather events—most notably Hurricane Katrina—have been about more than storm fronts, warnings, and watches, and The Weather Channel’s coverage is changing to reflect that.

“The idea is to not only cover the weather itself, but the people involved. That’s where I step in,” Martin says.

Sometimes she’ll work from The Weather Channel’s Atlanta studio, but much of the time Martin will be traveling around the country seeking out weather-related stories to tell.

“My first day, my bosses and I started discussing my first assignment, which was to go live from an oil rig in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico!” she says.

Martin’s reports could pop up almost any time. “I don’t have a set schedule; however, I will likely be contributing segments to a new program starting Sept. 25 called Abrams & Bettes. It airs at 7 p.m. Central. I’m really looking forward to it. Other than that, the plan is to send me on breaking stories. In fact, I just got back from covering the Minnesota tornado.”

So how did a graduate of Winnebago High School who attended Rock Valley College and graduated from Augustana College wind up on The Weather Channel? Hard work.

“I’ve worked in TV for the past 12 years,” Martin says. “I started behind the scenes with CNN in Atlanta and was there for three years—writing, mostly. Deciding to make the big on-air switch, I got a reporting job with a CBS affiliate in Florence-Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where I carried my own camera! After two years of reporting and anchoring there, I reported for CLTV News in Chicago for a couple of years, then worked briefly at WDJT-TV in Milwaukee, as a morning anchor. Then, it was off to Los Angeles, where I worked as a correspondent for CNN’s Newsource—an affiliate service. Then, back to Chicago as a free-lance reporter with WGN-TV for two years. Next, The Weather Channel called.”

Chances are, when her busy new schedule allows, you might find Martin back in Rockford visiting family. “I’m the only one to ever leave the Rock River Valley,” she says. “My mother, Mona Penticoff, has always worked in local TV ad sales, so I probably got the bug from hearing her talk about TV while growing up. My father, Rick, is also in Rockford, as well as my younger brother, Jason, and his wife and children.”

One of Martin’s earliest weather reporting experiences —covering Hurricane Bonnie in 1998—occurred when she was working in South Carolina. “I remember trying to take a nap in the hotel and hearing pieces of the roof blowing off and hitting cars in the parking lot,” she said. “So I got up and went back to work.” Little did she know then that she’d wind up on The Weather Channel.

Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications including American Bungalow, SatelliteORBIT, and TVGuide.

From the Nov. 1-7, 2006, issue

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