Algonquin College - Radio & Television Broadcasting
June means hurricane season. And for Janice Dean, a Canadian weathercaster on FOX News, that likely means long hours. Janice doesn't mind, though, because it also means an opportunity to help make sure people are prepared and safe from natural disasters. " When people listen to those warnings and we don’t have a lot of injuries or deaths, that’s rewarding," she says.
Before joining FOX, Janice was the news editor and entertainment reporter for "Imus in the Morning," on WFAN-AM New York and simulcast nationally on MSNBC. She had also worked as an on-air traffic reporter in New York City, held multiple positions at CHUM Limited in Ottawa, Canada, including morning news anchor, producer and host and anchor, and hosted various radio programs in Houston. Janice began her career in Ottawa, Canada at CHEZ-FM where she was a morning show co-host, reporter and DJ, and shortly after held her first on-camera weather host gig at CBOT Television.
Janice credits her diverse experiences in both television and radio with some of her current success. " When you get out of school it’s fine to have an idea of what you want to do, but be open to other stuff," she says. "If you try other things, you’re going to have a more well-rounded career."
I don't think it's about the resume -- it's about getting in the door and connecting with somebody.
How did you discover your current job?
I always realized that I wanted to do something in the broadcasting field, whether it was radio or television, or something in the communications industry. Back home in Canada I took a year of journalism while attending a university. I realized I wanted something more hands-on. I didn’t want to be in the classroom for five years, I wanted to work with people in the industry. So, I did some investigating and found a radio/broadcasting degree at a college. It was very hands-on. I found out that professors and people who teach at the college were people who are active in the industry. It also gave me a flavor of what I wanted to do -- whether it be radio or television or both. For me, it was a great way to get in the industry right away.
My first job out of school was in radio as a community events reporter at a local radio station where one of my teachers also happened to be a DJ. I got my first taste of what it was like to be in the industry. From there, because I had both radio and television experience in school, I also was asked to be a local weather person. So, there I found myself doing both radio and television right out of school. It taught me to be open to anything and everything.
When I started out, I didn’t say to myself, “I want to be an anchor," or "I want to be a sports reporter.” I wanted to do everything and try everything. I’m really lucky that in my hometown I was able to try a lot of stuff. I was able to dabble in all sorts of things. That started my path, and from there I followed the relationship I was in and moved from my hometown to Houston, where I did some radio and television. My relationship didn’t work out, but my career took off. I spent several years there and then went back home to Canada for about a year and worked on a television morning program anchoring and doing the weather. While there, a co-worker gave me a job description that he thought would suit me to a T. The job involved working on a radio program with Don Imus that also was broadcast on television. I applied for it thinking I’d never get the job, but because I’d worked in radio and television, they’d liked all these skills behind me.
So, I moved to New York and was a news editor and did some entertainment reporting on the show for a year. And then I got the opportunity to work here at FOX. They liked me, but they just didn’t know where to put me. I was an entertainment reporter … anchor … and I remember them asking, “Do you have any weather experience? We need a daytime weather person here." This was almost nine years ago. It has been a fit. During my time here, I went to school again to become a certified meteorologist.
What does your typical job schedule and day look like?
It depends on what the story is. We’re heading into hurricane season June 1, and I’m pretty certain that there should be a few hurricanes out there this season. So, I am aware that we’re entering a busy time. Right now we’re in tornado season, so I know that when there’s a big tornado that happens, we’re going to be on quite a bit. I work on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from noon to FOX Report time, around 7 p.m. Other days when I have "FOX and Friends" first, I will work 5 a.m. to noon. That’s my set schedule, but when we have something big, my schedule goes out the window and we basically have to work until we tell the story.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
As the weather person you have a responsibility to alert people to where bad weather might happen. Primarily my job is to make people aware of where dangerous weather could happen. When people listen to those warnings and we don’t have a lot of injuries or deaths, that’s rewarding. When you can tell people where to go and seek shelter, that's rewarding, especially when we get into tornado season and people come up and say they watch my weather reports every day. People also watch my reports to find out about what’s going on in my life, too. I like sharing my life with viewers. They know me as Janice Dean the Weather Machine, and I’m also someone with two boys. I share my life on my YouTube channel, too. For me, I love sharing my personal life with the viewers. Not only do they get a weather report, but like it or not, they’re also going to get the professional stuff as well. I also have a blog and I’m on Twitter. FOX is really good at also promoting our strong personalities on television.
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
I think early on in my career, my career was always my No. 1. My life always was about my next career move. Now, I found a place that I love, and this place is like a family to me as well, and I’m not as hungry perhaps as someone in their twenties or early thirties. I feel very content with my life and where it is right now. I love my job. I love my career. But if it all were to go away tomorrow, that would be OK because I have a life outside of my career. I’m very lucky that my husband is a very hands-on dad and his career works with my career. We’re very lucky in that way. When I go home at night, my focus is on my two boys. But if there is a big story, then I am here at work covering it.
What is one lesson you've learned in your job that sticks with you?
There is one lesson I learned very early on -- don’t have a set career. When you get out of school it’s fine to have an idea of what you want to do, but be open to other stuff. If you try other things, you’re going to have a more well-rounded career. Being in radio has helped me to ad lib and to be on the spot, to not be totally focused on the visual of the TV, to know that I have to tell a story and with my voice, to be very descriptive. I also do a lot of voice-over work here, for one of the programs, “News Watch.” I do their promos and tags. I enjoy the voice work as well. I also do radio here at FOX. I’m primarily the weather person, but I’m always open to other stuff. I knew I was going to be a broadcaster, but I didn’t let that pigeonhole me. I would encourage others to do everything and anything they can. Plus that way, you get the opportunity to make more connections. You never know when your next job or opportunity is going to come.
Who are your role models?
One of my teachers in school, Donna Leon Millen, was one of those people who not only taught me, but took me under her wing, too. I think teachers are so important these days. She was not only a teacher, but she owns her own production company, she shoots her own program and she writes her own stuff. To this day I’m still very close to her. She’s also a working mom, and she has two older boys. Our lives have kind of paralleled each other in a way. She was the first real female role model for me. She started as a teacher, then became a mentor, and now she’s my good friend.
Megyn Kelly is an anchor I work with at FOX. She's a good friend, but she’s also someone who I look up to. We’re very close, and our kids are very close. If I was a young girl coming out of college, she’s someone I would aspire to be like; she’s very smart, doing great in her career, has kids and a great husband, and is beautiful inside and out. Even at my age of 42, she’s a role model for me.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your industry?
It’s all a mindset. You have to define your own success. What was success to me 10 years ago is very different than what it is now. Ten years ago in NYC I was single and I wanted to live in Manhatan, have a great job, wear fancy shoes and have a cute boyfriend. Success to me now, is yes, I have a great job, but man I have a wonderful family and two boys who I want to make proud every day. I feel very successful not only in my career, but in my personal life, which is very important to me.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I hope I’m still at FOX. I’m coming on my ninth year here. I love it here, and I can’t really see myself anywhere else. But if that doesn’t work out, that’s OK too. I still see myself in the broadcasting industry, whether it’s television or radio. I love doing the weather, but I love that on FOX I can still have a personality and bring information to the viewer. I can kind of lighten it up and have a personality with the anchors that I work with. I also have two children right now. I don’t know if I’ll have another one -- maybe, I’m not closing the door to that -- and I just want to be happy. Happiness is everything.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I’ve been extraordinarily fortunate in my career. I think there’s certainly an amount of timing -- being in in the right place at the right time -- but you’ve got to know yourself as well. You’ve got to do your homework. If there’s something you want to do, make sure you educate yourself on what you want to do. Be flexible as well. Get to know people in your industry. Sometimes I don’t think it’s about the resume -- it’s about getting in the door and connecting with somebody. Also, know what you’re talking about when you go in to that job interview. And don't forget to be friendly. I think smiling is so important and sometimes we lose that a little bit. Just be yourself, be friendly and be open. You never know where that next job is going to come from.
-Interview by Brianne Burrowes