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Weather Central, Cronkite School Enter Unprecedented Partnership

January 17, 2008

Weather Central Inc., a leader in state-of-the-art weather, news, traffic and sports digital broadcast technologies, announces an unprecedented partnership with the Cronkite School.

Under the partnership, Weather Central is providing the Cronkite School with cutting-edge satellite, graphics and mapping technologies that will enable students to produce professional weather reports on Cronkite NewsWatch, the school’s award-winning evening newscast carried on cable television across the Phoenix metropolitan area, and via the Web.

The Weather Central technology will be in place this summer, when the school opens its new home – a six-story, $71 million media education complex – in downtown Phoenix.

A terrace on the building’s sixth floor, overlooking downtown Phoenix and adjacent to the Cronkite NewsWatch newsroom and studios, will be named the Weather Central Terrace in honor of the partnership with the Wisconsin-based company. Students will be able to use the sophisticated Weather Central technology on the NewsWatch set and provide live weather reports from the terrace.

“Students will gain invaluable experience on-air and can prepare for a successful weather career utilizing the leading weather software and science in the marketplace today,” said Bill Baker, president of Weather Central. “With unlimited access to the Weather Central On-Demand Web site they can network with over a 1,000 broadcast professionals throughout the world, post video resumes, gain feedback, see how other successful meteorologists are presenting the weather to their viewers and have 24/7 training at their fingertips.”

Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan said the technology will put the students’ weather reports on the same level as major market TV network affiliates around the country. Weather Central provides weather broadcast technologies for ABC15, CBS 5, Fox 10 and 12 News (NBC), the four major network affiliates in Phoenix, the nation’s 12th largest TV market.

“We are indebted to Weather Central for creating this wonderful opportunity for our students,” Callahan said. He added that the Weather Central technologies also have critical applications in news reporting, providing satellite imagery and mapping to help viewers pinpoint stories from around the block and around the world.

Anne VanDerGeest, vice president of North American Sales of Weather Central, said the company is “thrilled to be working with the esteemed Cronkite School and believes that this partnership will provide students with the best tools and technology available today for broadcast weather. When people hear the name Walter Cronkite, they think ‘excellence in journalism.’ We are looking forward to the opening of the state-of-the-art facility and having the opportunity to further showcase our solutions.”

Weather Central Inc., founded in 1974 by broadcasters and meteorologists based in Madison, Wis., provides professional on-air, online and print weather systems and forecasting utilizing dynamic weather graphics, precise forecast models and data and patented technology. The company has more than 500 customers worldwide.

The Cronkite School is a nationally recognized professional journalism program with more than 1,500 students. In 2007 Cronkite students finished first nationally in both the Hearst Journalism Awards and the Society of Professional Journalist’s Mark of Excellence competition. The school’s signature is a series of full-immersion professional capstone programs such as Cronkite NewsWatch and Cronkite News Service, which provides daily news stories to newspapers, TV stations and Web outlets around the region. The Cronkite School also is the home of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship and the New Media Innovation Lab.

The school’s new home in downtown Phoenix will open for classes Aug. 25.