Local on the 8s

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Local on the 8's
Local on the 8s logo.png
Local on the 8s logo (November 12, 2013-present)
Also known as Local Forecast (1982–1996, 1998–2002)
Theme music composer Dan Chandler (1987–1995)
Allen Jackson (2002–present; IntelliStar systems only)
Jim Cantore (2010–present; IntelliStar 2 systems only)
Composer(s) Various
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Production
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 1 minute
Broadcast
Original channel The Weather Channel
Picture format 480i (SDTV),
1080i (HDTV)
Original run May 2, 1982  – present

Local on the 8s, or the Local Forecast, is a program segment that airs on the American cable and satellite television network The Weather Channel. It provides viewers information on the current weather conditions and local weather forecast for their respective area; a version of this segment is also available on the channel's national satellite feed that features forecasts for each region of the United States. The name "Local on the 8s" comes from the timing of the segment, as airs at timeslots that end in "8" (for example, 9:18 or 12:48); because of this manner of scheduling, "Local on the 8s" airs on the channel in ten-minute intervals.

History[edit]

The Weather Channel has carried a local weather forecast segment since the network was launched on May 2, 1982. The segments were originally seen either every five minutes or eight times an hour at various times (airing more frequently in the morning and less frequently at night). The format of scheduling the segments eight times an hour at times ending in "8" was implemented in mid-1995. The "Local on the 8s" name was first used on April 21, 1996 to coincide with a sweeping revamp of the channel's on-air presentation;[1] The Weather Channel filed for a trademark on the name on June 24, 1997.[2] The name has caused confusion in the New York City market, as CBS Corporation's television and radio combination of WCBS-TV and WCBS (AM) use "traffic and weather on the 8s" to refer to the traffic/weather segments featured on those stations (which appear on WCBS-TV only during its morning newscasts and on WCBS radio at all hours).

"Local on the 8s" logo from September 2003 to November 12, 2013.
The Local Forecast opener from the "Weather You Can Always Turn To" period in the mid-1990s.

Forecasts are generated by a WeatherStar machine, a proprietary hardware system in the form of a computerized unit that is installed in a headend. Weather information is received from the vertical blanking interval of the TWC video feed and from data transmitted via satellite, which is then inserted over the TWC feed with local insertion technologies. The WeatherStar systems are capable of adding or removing segments shown within the main local forecast segment, with the common exception of the extended forecast, in what are referred to as "flavors"; the forecast flavors allow variabilities in the weather graphics displayed during each local forecast segment, causing certain graphics to appear only at specific times or lengths. The length of these flavors is currently one minute, although flavor lengths previously varied between 30 secoonds and two minutes prior to April 2013 and extended flavors of three to five minutes were previously included between the late 1980s and the mid-1990s.

Despite the name, the segment occasionally airs at times that do not end in "8" (such as 9:27, 9:57, etc., usually no more than two minutes before the "8"s in an hour), particularly during original long-form programming and weekday morning forecast programs, such as Wake Up with Al and the now-defunct Day Planner.

Weather Star systems[edit]

The majority of cable operators (as of 2014) use the IntelliStar, the second-most recent STAR model, which was released in 2002. The IntelliStar platform can also generate graphics for Weatherscan, The Weather Channel's 24-hour localized weather network that is available on select cable systems. With an IntelliStar, in addition to current weather conditions for a given area, surrounding areas, and a specific region; 24- and 36-hour, daypart, and seven-day forecasts; and almanacs (products that are largely also available on older STAR systems that remain in use); cable viewers can also see air quality and health reports; specialized school day and activity forecasts; in coastal areas, tides and marine forecasts; and, in the past in certain large media markets, traffic conditions supplied by Traffic Pulse (which gathered the information in real time from intelligent transportation systems operated by state departments of transportation). The most recent STAR model, the IntelliStar 2, which was released in 2010, generates weather data for The Weather Channel HD, the channel's high definition simulcast feed (the IntelliStar 2 is available in participating markets, with some cable and IPTV providers that use the SD-only IntelliStar system opting to transmit the national LDL/sidebar instead if the headend does not have an IntelliStar 2 installed). Both the IntelliStar and IntelliStar 2 have an audio feature, known as Vocal Local – a pre-recorded track that narrates the current tempature and sky conditions, descriptive forecast and introduces certain forecast products (the tracks are narrated by Allen Jackson and TWC meteorologist/storm tracker Jim Cantore for the respective systems, with the systems assembling the track for the weather observations and 24-hour forecast segments). This function is similar to a narration feature in the Weather Star 4000 that was used from 1987 to 1995; the narration, voiced by Dan Chandler, was used only to introduce products in the forecast segment.

The IntelliStar is not the only STAR model that is currently in operation. Three other STAR systems are used sporadically: the Weather Star 4000 is the oldest and the first in the series that produces graphical local forecasts and radar. The Weather Star Jr is a budget model introduced in 1994 that was very uncommon from its introduction, and is similar to the now-discontinued Weather Star III in terms of products and appearance, although it uses the typeface of the 4000. The Weather Star XL, introduced in the fall of 1998, is an IRIX-based machine, a major leap from the 4000 systems in terms of capabilities and graphic generation; it was used for Weatherscan until 2003 (the first use of the IntelliStar occurred that year on Weatherscan). All STAR systems are capable of generating a crawl, which runs a series of scrolling text advertisements that appear at the bottom of the screen during each forecast segment.

As satellite television is broadcast to a large area, this localized weather model must be adapted for its viewers. The satellite forecast segment includes national weather headlines, and daily forecasts and composite satellite/radar loops for the respective regions of the Northeastern, Southeastern, Central and Western United States. IntelliStars are installed at both DirecTV's and Dish Network's primary uplink sites, but they run a different lower display line graphic and sidebar (the latter is seen only on the channel's HD feed) at all times even during commercial breaks. This cycles through current conditions (only denoting the sky condition, temperature, wind data and if applicable, apparent temperature) and daypart forecasts for major U.S. cities. The current time, based on time zone, and a news ticker displaying weather-related headlines appear above the LDL (while the IntelliStar models key the local time over the national LDL's time bar, the ticker, as with the segment rundown in the upper portion of the sidebar, is visible to all viewers).

On November 8, 2006, Dish Network viewers began to be able to view local weather conditions and radar on The Weather Channel on DISH HOME Channel 100, based on their billing ZIP code, along with access to weather information in other cities.[3] DirecTV viewers can receive local forecasts by ZIP code, which works through the "interactive" function of later receiver models (this function was temporarily suspended on January 14, 2014 due to the channel's carriage dispute with the satellite provider, and was restored when the dispute ended in April 2014).

Although IPTV services are wired services (in a similar vein to cable television systems), allowing for the use of WeatherStar systems, AT&T U-verse also does not provide localized forecasts through the aid of an IntelliStar computer (AT&T U-verse does provide a dedicated Weather on Demand channel with forecasts provided by AccuWeather); as such, U-verse subscribers also see the satellite forecast segment during the "Local on the 8s" segments. Verizon FiOS subscribers receive IntelliStar-delivered local forecasts on The Weather Channel's standard definition feed.

During The Weather Channel's "Storm Alert" mode (which was introduced in 2005), specifically when a dangerous hurricane prepares to make landfall, the number of local forecasts seen throughout each hour is reduced from six times to four – :18 past the hour, :28 past the hour, :48 past the hour, :58 past the hour.

Lower Display Line (LDL) and sidebar[edit]

The Weather Star systems also utilize weather information in the form of a Lower Display Line (LDL); the LDL displayed by Weather Star systems from Weather Star Jr. and earlier were strictly text-based, and therefore contained no graphical background, and also only included current weather observations and monthly precipitation totals. The Weather Star XL included a semi-translucent background for the LDL and added local weather forecasts, while the IntelliStar system includes current conditions and forecasts for four (originally, three) nearby areas and until March 11, 2010, included air quality indexes, travel forecasts for three cities in the region, traffic information and almanac data.

Time data was included on the LDLs as well as the full-screen local forecast graphics since the initial Weather Star system (this function was dropped on March 11, 2010 on the IntelliStar, though it returned to the LDL on March 16, 2010) and the current date was also included on systems from Weather Star XL and earlier. With the addition of a national LDL during national programming on March 11, 2010, cable headends still using the Weather Star 4000 and Weather Star Jr. will now overlay the text-only LDL over the national LDL due to lack of a background on the 4000 and Jr.'s LDLs. The XL's LDL no longer gets a signal to cue either after this update. However on extreme, rare conditions, the 4000 and or Jr.'s LDLs will cue and remain on for a period during the day it gets cued.

In recent years with the inclusion of original programming such as Storm Stories and Full Force Nature to The Weather Channel, the local forecasts began airing only for four times an hour during long-form entertainment-based programs and some forecast programming on the channel. Local weather information was provided during the other "8" '​s on the Lower Display Line during these programs. The standard "Local on the 8s" segment airs during non-forecast programming once every half-hour; until November 11, 2013, at about :18 and :48 minutes of each hour, an L-bar displaying localized weather observations and forecasts aired during a live national forecast update performed by one of the channel's on-camera meteorologists, running in a simultaneous picture-in-picture format. On November 12, 2013, The Weather Channel began to display the Lower Display Line full-time, throughout commercial breaks and telecasts of its long-form programs (prior to the change, commercials were broadcast full-screen and the LDL appeared during long-form programs on an intermittent basis).[4]

The graphical revamp resulted in other changes to the on-air display; the LDL was replaced on the "Local on the 8s" segments by a combined segment rundown/progress bar display, with time data being moved to an upper-third graphic. A sidebar was introduced, appearing on the right third of the screen (outside of the 4:3 safe area for standard definition viewers) on The Weather Channel HD, which unlike the LDL, is removed during commercial breaks and is only shown during the channel's forecast programming;[4] the satellite version of the sidebar displays major airport delays, temperature and precipitation extremes for the current or previous day around the U.S., snowfall reports for major ski resorts (during the winter months only), as well as a rundown of the segments within the program (at the top of the screen) and weather information to be featured in the center portion of the sidebar (at the bottom-right corner, which is covered by the supplementary localized weather data on providers using the IntelliStar 2). For cable and IPTV subscribers, the IntelliStar 2 generates arrival and departure delays for area airports; visibility, dew point and barometric pressure data not included within the current observations featured on the LDL; almanac data (showing average and record minimum and maximum temperatures; sunrise and sunset, and in coastal areas, high and low tide times; and moon phase data for the current date); and air quality forecasts on the center of the sidebar.

Music[edit]

The Weather Channel released its own Smooth Jazz CD in 2007, The Weather Channel Presents: The Best of Smooth Jazz, based on collections of popular music played during the "Local On the 8s" segments. It peaked at #1 on Billboard's Top Contemporary Jazz charts that year.[5] Artists included on this CD are Joyce Cooling, Dave Koz, Paprika Soul, Four 80 East, Jeff Lorber, Pieces of a Dream, Chick Corea, Jeanne Ricks, Ryan Farish, Mark Krurnowski, Najee and 3rd Force. In 2008, a second compilation CD containing the channel's most requested music was released, titled The Weather Channel Presents: Smooth Jazz II.[6] Artists on this CD include Russ Freeman & The Rippingtons, Jeff Lorber, Ramsey Lewis Trio, Bradley Joseph, Bernie Williams, David Benoit, Spyro Gyra, Norman Brown, Chris Geith, Joe Sample, Charlie Parker Quartet and Eric Marienthal.

Other songs that can be heard during this segment include production music from the Network Music stock music service, and music from artists such as Trammell Starks (who composed 40 tracks specifically for The Weather Channel), The Rippingtons, Moby, EKO[disambiguation needed], Pat Metheny Group, Shadowfax, Chris Camozzi, Scott Ward, Miles Davis, Robert A. Wolf, David Becker and Kent Marcum. Instrumentals performed by bands such as The B-52's ("Follow Your Bliss"), Derek and the Dominos (the "Layla" piano exit), Devo ("Gut Feeling"), The Who (the beginning intro of "Eminence Front"), the Allman Brothers Band ("Jessica"), parts of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and "Terminal Frost" by Pink Floyd, and "Divided Sky" by Phish have also been heard during this segment. When Wake Up With Al premiered in July 2009, music from 3 Doors Down including Here Without You was added to the lineup, marking the first time the broadcast played music that contained lyrics. Most recently, much of the solo piano music was provided by new age pianist, Matthew C. Shuman, with his original pieces ("Chasing the Wind", "Stormy Sea", "Finding Freedom", "Frosty Sunrise", "Fallen Snow", "Falling Rain", "Night Storm", "Mixed Emotions", "White Water", "Running Out of Time", "Ocean Journey" and "Into the East").[7]

Other songs containing lyrics from artists such as Taylor Swift and Vanessa Carlton have been rotated into the local forecast cycle since then, though the inclusion of lyrical songs poses a problem as the IntelliStar's audio ducking feature within its Vocal Local function causes both the music and lyrics to be nearly muted (this is not the case with the IntelliStar 2) as the narration track is played in a nearly continuous manner until the end of the 24-48 hour forecast segment. This is in addition to the fact that the songs will not be played in their entirety due to the variable and often limited local forecast lengths.

The Weather Channel suspends the music during local forecasts when a tropical storm or hurricane approaches coastal areas of the United States and airs the "Storm Alert" music during the "Local on the 8s" segments. During the holiday season, appropriately-themed music such as instrumental versions of popular Christmas carols and music from A Charlie Brown Christmas is often played during the "Local on the 8s". Music and scores from various films including Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, Home Alone, Shaft and Tron: Legacy have also been played.[8] On July 7, 2009, into the early morning of July 8, The Weather Channel played the hit Michael Jackson song "Billie Jean", to commemorate the memorial service held in honor of Jackson that day in Los Angeles, two weeks after his June 25 death. It was also played during the Wake Up with Al playlists in the months that followed.

Since November 12, 2013, the new music package introduced to The Weather Channel on that day also began to be played during the local forecasts, replacing the other music. Three songs from that music package are being used for the local forecasts, and a fourth one is used during local forecasts while the channel is in "Red Alert" mode, which has replaced the "Storm Alert" mode in 2012, which also suspends all music during very frequent weather situations. It also used vocal music from February to May 2014 along with the music package.[citation needed]. On September 2014, a new song was added to the package.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ USPTO filing (serial number 2183850) First Use in Commerce date
  2. ^ USPTO filing (serial number 2183850)
  3. ^ "Dish, TWC to Provide Local Weather". Multichannel News. 2006-11-08. 
  4. ^ a b Jason Samenow (November 14, 2013). "The Weather Channel is getting back to weather, sort of". Washington Post. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Chart history for The Weather Channel Presents: The Best of Smooth Jazz". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 2008-05-28. [dead link]
  6. ^ "Weather Channel, Best of Smooth Jazz II". JazzHQ. Retrieved 2008-05-28. 
  7. ^ The Music of Matthew C. Shuman Official Website
  8. ^ The Weather Channel Music

External links[edit]