In a sense, The Weather Channel is a local Atlanta station. Its headquarters in Cobb County overlooks the I-285/I-75 interchange. But its scope is global. That’s ideal for viewers who need to know the daily forecast from wherever they happen to be.
The job of explaining the practical implications of the weather—as well as its subtleties—falls to the network’s on-camera meteorologists, who include UGA alumni Alex Wallace ABJ ’04 and Molly McCollum BS ’15.
“A lot of people who watch The Weather Channel want to know what the weather is, of course, but they’re also interested in the why,” McCollum says. “And because we have unlimited time to talk about that, we get the chance to dive into the nitty gritty of the science, which is a lot of fun for us.”
McCollum started as a musical theater major at the University of Alabama, but after experiencing the devastating Tuscaloosa tornado of 2011, she turned toward meteorology.
“So many of those skills I learned while I was studying theater are directly transferable to being on camera,” she says.
McCollum transferred to UGA, where she majored in geography and was a member of the last atmospheric sciences certificate class before it became a major. After graduating, she worked in Wichita, Kansas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, before landing at WGCL (now WANF) in Atlanta in 2018. She moved to The Weather Channel in 2021.
Wallace, who majored in broadcast journalism at UGA, took a more direct path to The Weather Channel. He interned at the network while pursuing his graduate degree in meteorology from Mississippi State (David Chandley and Chris Holcomb also earned their master’s degrees there). He was hired in 2006 immediately after earning that degree. Wallace worked his way up; he started with delivering local online forecasts. The non-stop, three-hour shifts rubbed his throat raw.
Soon, he graduated to broadcast. He bounced from studio work to show hosting and to remotes. For on-camera meteorologists, the remotes, which run the gamut from tropical storms to blizzards to mudslides to beautiful fall days, are what provide the adrenaline rush.
“You kind of want to be in the action but not in the action, if that makes some sense,” Wallace says. “Safety is always number one when you’re out there. But it is thrilling.”
It was special to have a UGA grad as a mentor. She has continued to be incredibly supportive of my career, and her help is a big reason I feel so passionate about paying it forward and helping students in UGA’s program now.” — Molly McCollum on interning with Joanne Feldman at FOX5 as a UGA student
What’s also exciting for Wallace and McCollum is the technology available to them. As meteorologists working for a network devoted to weather, expenses are rarely spared when it comes to new technology.
“The Weather Channel is great at pushing creative boundaries,” McCollum says. “We have an immersed reality set where we can take you to different cities and show you what it’s going to be like as storms move in. It’s especially powerful in hurricane communication, where they have made this great video about what storm surge looks like.”
Wallace and McCollum don’t get to work together very often, but when they do, they make sure to mention UGA on air—with three-hour shifts, there is a lot of space to banter. They both keep their ties to campus strong too. McCollum mentors current atmospheric science students, and Wallace served on the Grady alumni board for several years. In 2012, Wallace received the John E. Drewry Award for Young Alumni Achievement from Grady College.
“You have to love it,” Wallace says about the advice he gives to students who are thinking about getting into the weather business. “I think we’ve all watched someone on television and you can tell they don’t really believe what they’re saying. Do what you like, and it will show. It will pay off at the end.”
Mostly Sunny – The Atlanta Weather Report | Weather Program at UGA