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Teeming With Humanity

1/30/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

The Weather Channel’s new docudrama/
anthology series Braving the Elements will push snow, rain and
wind into the background, instead highlighting people who
deal with extreme outdoor conditions to do their jobs.

Braving the Elements will feature three miniseries, each consisting
of four 30-minute episodes that chronicle the workers
who tackle inclement weather to make life easier for others.

Turbine Cowboys (debuting in April) chronicles men and
women at work on wind turbines; Iron Men (June) profiles
workers who help construct New York’s biggest skyscrapers;
and From Lights Out (June) follows crews seeking to restore
power during severe weather.

With each miniseries, the network is hoping to build
characters with whom viewers can identify and want to see
more of, Bob Walker, executive vice president and general
manager of networks and content at Weather, said.

PEOPLE AT WORK

“The consumer knows that the weather has a certain impact
on them, but there are also a lot of people who have to do
what they do no matter what the weather is,” Walker told Multichannel
News
. “In Braving the Elements, we have a chance
to do a lot of different and interesting jobs of people that are
outside braving the elements and the weather.”

Unlike previous Weather Channel series, in which individuals
often played second fiddle to nature’s wrath, these new
shows will focus on the lives and personalities of the characters,
both on and off the job.

Walker said it’s a network-wide effort that began recently
by getting meteorologists Stephanie Abrams, Jim Cantore
and Mike Bettis out of the studio and on location during big
weather-related news events.

Other new shows, such as Lifeguard, following lifeguards up
and down the Southern California coast (coming in March),
and Hurricane Hunters, about Air Force reservists who fly into
the middle of hurricanes to collect information, will also
place a heavy emphasis on the characters and personalities
that perform specific, weather-related jobs.

“For us it’s more personality, period, whether it’s live coverage
and getting our people out of the studio and into the
weather or focusing on interesting people doing interesting
things in the weather,” Walker said. “We’ll never abandon
our commitment to making people safe in dangerous
weather and to telling people how weather will impact their
lives, but finding a way to make it more entertaining is clearly
part of our opportunity in the future.”

NEW CEO ON BOARD

The Weather Channel Cos. last week named former Akamai
president David Kenny as chairman and CEO. Kenny will work
with the programmer’s board of directors to help create an
integrated strategy to accelerate the company’s growth in the
U.S. and internationally, company officials said.

“David brings a strong leadership background, having
served as chief executive at global companies across different
aspects of the media industry,” read a statement from
the consortium of Bain Capital, The Blackstone Group and
NBCUniversal that owns The Weather Channel Cos.

Kenny replaces Mike Kelly, the former AOL executive who
has served as president and CEO since 2009. Kelly will serve
as a special adviser to the CEO and board.

September