3 Things Broadway Producers can learn from Weathermen.

It’s 19 degrees as I type this, as Mother Nature pumps one more blast of the Polar Vortex through the streets of New York City.

To say it has been a tumultuous winter is like saying Wicked is a little bit of a hit.  This year, like so many New Yorkers, I’ve watched The Weather Channel more fervently than I watched Survivor – Season One.

And when you think about it, weather is the ultimate reality show.

I learned a lot watching and reading about how we’re told what we’re going to wake up to each and every morning, and, well, who else is gonna listen to me but you.

So here are the Three Things Broadway Producers can learn from Weathermen and Weatherwomen:


If there’s just a glimmer of some storm a brewin’ over an ocean thousands of miles away, the weather “producers” start talking about it.  “Look what’s brewin’ out over the Atlantic . . . that could really be something in a week or so.”  Now, we all know that weather, while a science, changes more than Jefferson Mays in Gentleman’s Guide, so the odds of that weather system arriving exactly when and how they talk about it so far in advance are low.  But that doesn’t stop them from letting people know something is on its way.  If you’ve got a show a brewin’, start talking about it right away.  Get a domain name and put up a website.  Record some demos.  If it changes along the way, so be it, but at least people know to get ready for it.


In 2012, The Weather Channel started naming winter storms.  Like Hurricanes.  They say it was to “better communicate the threat and timing of the significant impacts that accompany these events.”  Well, I guess that’s true.  But whenever you name anything, especially a name that has been associated with a person or character . . . it makes it more real and more memorable, and something you want to learn more about (I don’t know, maybe by tuning in to The Weather Channel).  This could have been one of the greatest marketing initiatives ever in the meteorologist industry.  And at least they admitted it.  In their press release about this new policy they went on and on about why naming winter storms was in the public interest, and the last sentence of the release went something like this:

Finally, it might even be fun and entertaining and that in itself should breed interest from our viewing public and our digital users.

But they didn’t stop there.  When deciding on a set of names to use- they chose freakin’ Greek gods.  Zeus, Triton, Athena.  So what do you think when you hear these names?  Scary?  Powerful?  Something to take shelter from?  The name helps tell you what to expect.  And when you’re producing a show, your title needs to communicate the same thing to your potential ticket buyers.  A title is the biggest marketing tool a Broadway show has . . . pick the wrong one, and you’ll be in a storm of trouble.


How many of the storms that hit our shores are as bad as the weather folks originally make them out to be?  Now sure, they need to err on the cautious side so that governments and civilians are prepared, so something like the Georgia winter weather disaster doesn’t happen again.  That said, the powers-that-be at the weather stations know that big, scary storms with snow and ice and school closings get viewers because . . .

  1. It affects everyone personally.
  2. It’s high stakes, life or death, drama.

When choosing shows to produce, you need to make sure that your audience can relate to it, that somehow the message will resonate and affect people as much as possible.  And, duh, it needs to be a high stakes, hold on to your loved-ones, blizzard-like drama.
I can’t tell you how happy I am that this winter is almost over.  It has devastated all kinds of businesses from Broadway shows to restaurants to shopping malls.  One of the few businesses that did well?  Anyone talking about The Weather.  I’m hoping that they see a little bit of a dip this spring and summer and we get some of the best sunshiney days you can imagine.

Of course, then they’ll probably start naming sunshine.


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.