Local on the 8s
The Local on the 8s or Local Forecast is a programming segment on The Weather Channel in the United States, in which viewers can see current weather conditions and local weather forecasts for their respective area. The name comes from the timing of the segment, as the times it airs end in "8" (such as 9:18, 9:28, etc.) and because of the timing of the segment, "Local on the 8s" airs in ten minute intervals.
Before the implementation took place in mid-1995, the forecast was seen either every five minutes or eight times an hour at various times (more in the morning and fewer at night). The name was introduced on April 21, 1996 to coincide with a sweeping revamp of the channel's presentation. The Weather Channel filed for a trademark on the name on June 24, 1997. The name has caused confusion in the New York City area with CBS Corporation properties WCBS-TV and WCBS AM, as the television/radio combination uses a similar slogan, "traffic and weather on the 8s".
Forecasts are generated by a WeatherStar machine, a proprietary hardware system in the form of a computerized unit; the machines are installed in a headend and receive the information from the vertical blanking interval of the TWC video feed and from data transmitted via satellite. The information 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 lengths of each flavor currently range from 30 seconds to two minutes, though flavor lengths 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
As of 2008, the majority of cable operators use the IntelliStar, the latest STAR system. The IntelliStar platform can also generate graphics for Weatherscan, The Weather Channel's 24-hour localized weather network. With an IntelliStar, in addition to current weather conditions for their area, surrounding areas, and their region; 36-hour, daypart, and 7-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 IntelliStar is not the only type of STAR 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. It is similar to the now-discontinued Weather Star III in terms of products and appearance, but 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 4000s in terms of capabilities and graphic generation. It was used for Weatherscan until 2003 (the first use of the IntelliStar was on Weatherscan that year).
As satellite television is broadcast to a large area, this localized weather model must be adapted for its viewers. The satellite forecast segment includes hourly forecasts for 20 major cities, three-day forecasts for 40 U.S. cities, satellite loops and composite radars of the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Northwest, and Southwest, respectively. At :18 and :48 after the hour, the Northwest and Southwest satellite/radars are replaced by one showing the entire West. IntelliStars are hooked up at both DirecTV's and Dish Network's primary uplink sites, but they run a different lower display line graphic at all times even during television commercials. This cycles through current conditions (sky and temperature only) and today or next-day forecasts for major U.S. cities, as well as major airport delays. 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 in other cities. DirecTV viewers can get local forecasts by zip code, which works through the "interactive" function of later receiver models.
Although IPTV services are wired services (in a similar vein to cable television), allowing for the use of WeatherStar systems, AT&T U-verse also does not provide localized forecasts through the aid of an IntelliStar computer system (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.
It is noted that during The Weather Channel's "Storm Alert" mode (introduced in 2005), specifically when a dangerous hurricane prepares to make landfall, the number of local forecasts seen throughout the 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)
The Weather Star systems also utilize weather information in the form of an Lower Display Line (LDL); the LDL displayed by Weather Star systems from Weather Star Jr. and earlier were text-based only, therefore containing no graphical background, and included only current conditions and monthly precipitation. The Weather Star XL included a semi-translucent background for the LDL and added weather forecasts, while the IntelliStar system includes current conditions and forecasts for 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 has since returned to the LDL) 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 now generally air only four times an hour during long-form entertainment-based programs and some forecast programming on the channel. Local weather information is 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, while at about the :18 and :48 point of every hour, the "Local on the 8s" local forecast information is aired during a live national forecast update by one of the channel's meteorologists, running in a simultaneous picture-in-picture.
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 on the "Local On the 8s" segments. It peaked at #1 on Billboard's Top Contemporary Jazz charts in the same year. 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. 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 artists that can be heard during this segment include the Network Music stock music service, Trammell Starks (who composed 40 tracks specifically for The Weather Channel), The Rippingtons, Moby, EKO, Pat Metheny Group, Shadowfax, Chris Camozzi, Scott Ward, Miles Davis, Robert A. Wolf, David Becker, Kent Marcum, and many others. 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 with lyrics. Most recently, much of the solo piano music is 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").
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 audio ducking feature on the IntelliStar system at cable headends causes both the music and lyrics to be nearly muted (this is not seen on the IntelliStar 2) as the Vocal Local function is played especially during the local forecast narrations, when the Vocal Local narration is nearly continuous 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 that range up to two minutes (prior to 2008, all local forecast flavors were roughly two minutes in length).
The Weather Channel suspends the music during local forecasts when a hurricane approaches the United States coastal areas and airs the "Storm Alert" music during the Local on the 8s. 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 have also been played including; Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, Home Alone, Shaft and Tron: Legacy.
On July 7, 2009, into the early morning of July 8, The Weather Channel played the hit Michael Jackson song "Billie Jean", in honor of his memorial service held that day in Los Angeles, two weeks after his death. It was also played during the Wake Up with Al playlists in the months following.
Since November 12, 2013, the new music package introduced to The Weather Channel on that day also plays on the local forecasts, rendering the other music used in the forecasts obsolete. At least two songs from that music package are being used for the local forecasts, and another one will be used during local forecasts while the channel is in "Breaking News" mode (which replaced the Storm Alert mode in 2011).
- The Weather Channel
- USPTO filing (serial number 2183850) First Use in Commerce date
- USPTO filing (serial number 2183850)
- "Dish, TWC to Provide Local Weather". Multichannel News. 2006-11-08.
- "Chart history for The Weather Channel Presents: The Best of Smooth Jazz". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 2008-05-28.[dead link]
- "Weather Channel, Best of Smooth Jazz II". JazzHQ. Retrieved 2008-05-28.
- The Music of Matthew C. Shuman Official Website
- The Weather Channel Music
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