The worst weather forecast Charles Hosler ever heard was the inspiration for a daily televised weather program from Penn State. The year was 1957 and television was still a curiosity. Dr. Hosler, a professor in the meteorology department at Penn State, who had been presenting weather on radio for ten years, was certainly curious when he tuned to a local commercial television station that was starting to broadcast the weather. What he saw was an announcer reading a forecast for 24 hours of rain on a day when he knew that rain was virtually impossible anywhere in Pennsylvania. The science of meteorology was better than that, even then! So, Hosler became the driving force in beginning state-of the-art weather telecasts to legions of Pennsylvanians.
The broadcasts came initially from the basement of Sparks Building on the University Park campus. A single camera, a stop watch, a chalkboard and a desk were the studio settings. The weather show was sent by microwave transmission to WFBG-TV in Altoona. So popular was Charles Hosler's midday weather report that area farmers coined the phrase, "you could make hay with Hosler". In the tradition of a true educator, Hosler began to give the reigns of his successful weather broadcast to younger colleagues and graduate students. One of the first graduate students to join the weather program was Dick Hallgren, who went on to become the Director of the National Weather Service and is the current Director of the American Meteorological Society. Other luminaries in the field of meteorology who participated in the weather segment in a new version of the show called Farm, Home and Garden, included Dr. Joel Myers, founder and president of Accu-Weather, Inc., one of the largest and most successful private weather companies in the nation and Dr. John Cahir, Vice Provost and Dean of undergraduate education at Penn State.
In 1965, when WPSX, Penn State's educational VHF television station became a reality, the weather program continued as a cooperative effort between the brand new public television station and the Department of Meteorology. As advances in the science became proven, they were translated into improved forecast information for Pennsylvania's viewers. The early use of computer forecasts in the 1960's brought leaps and bounds in the accuracy of one to two day predictions seen on Farm, Home and Garden. The first geostationary weather satellite pictures were broadcast routinely on a new version of the weather program, State of the Weather/Shape of the World in 1974. The personnel changed with new graduate students joining the on-camera forecasters, but a core of polished faculty anchored the professional character of the broadcast.
In 1983, in none other than Charles Hosler's office, who was then Dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, a new format for the weather show was born. Instead of a six-minute weathercast at the top of a thirty-minute public affairs program, a brand new fifteen minute all-weather program would take its place. As a broadcast experiment, two meteorologists were chosen by WPSX and the Department of Meteorology to be producers, hosts and the talent of a new portion of the show. Weather World premiered on Labor Day that year as a weather magazine show which was unique in the world of broadcasting. The statewide forecast information continued to be the bedrock of the broadcast, but new longer range forecasts segments were added. Weather World began nightly features which demonstrated either how the weather works or what role the weather plays in everyday life. Indeed, the feature became the vehicle for using the weather to introducing viewers to many topics in the world of science and the humanities. This element has become a popular distinguishing characteristic of the program.
Since its inception in 1957, the hallmark of the weather presentation from Penn State has been a respect for the viewers' desire and ability to understand the world around them. The daily cooperation between the largest atmospheric science department in the world and one of the finest university PBS stations in the country has helped fulfill the mission of this land grant institution -- to serve the citizens of the Commonwealth through the benefits of its research.