African-Americans have historically been a minority in meteorology. In fact, a 2008 American Meteorological Society (AMS) survey touched on that underrepresented when it revealed less than two percent of its members were Black (that breakdown is for the entire meteorology industry; statistics regarding race/ethnicity in the broadcast industry were not provided in that survey). An earlier 2005 survey results also suggested that the percentage of women in the AMS, although still small, has nearly doubled since 1999. 6ABC’s Melissa Magee is a vibrant example of the positive growth of both women and minorities in meteorology.
Magee joined WPVI in 2009, coming from New York City’s WNYW. Prior to that, Magee made her Keystone State debut at AccuWeather in State College, Pa., providing international, national and regional forecasts. Through AccuWeather, she also appeared daily on Bloomberg Television's national morning show. Magee first honed her weather skills at a CBS/Fox affiliate in Bakersfield, Cali. She started out as a weekend anchor/reporter/weather personality. It was during her time on the weekends that Magee developed a passion for the weather. Upon her promotion to Noon Anchor at KBAK-TV, Magee continued to expand her weather duties, eventually becoming one of the station's primary weather anchors. Whether she's out in the field or in-studio, Magee enjoys gathering facts, and in turn, communicating that valuable information to those who need it the most.
“Meteorology is the study of weather,” explaned Magee. “And I actually don't think that the worlds are that different. When you are a reporter you have to report the facts — the nuts and bolts; the ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘where’. If it's a fluff piece, you just give the information. If you're a meteorologist, you're giving information, too. So, when I was actually making that transition from anchor/reporter to meteorologist, I had that same principle in mind: and I always tell the story and it is so true — I grew up in the church, I grew up in a Baptist church and one of the pastors, whenever he would give that sermon and he would get to hollering and have people in the congregation and the choir say, ‘Come on, Preacher — make it plain. Make it plain.’ So I still do that to this day: I make the weather plain. I make it plain so that the viewer can understand it and I make it plain so that my fellow meteorologists can understand it as well. If it's raining, you need your rain coat; if it's snowing you, need to shovel. So, I just make it plain and I give people information that they can really use on a daily basis.”
While born and raised in Los Angeles, Cali., Magee points out that her early career was influenced by her family’s spiritual and musical roots. “My parents did gospel ministry, they used to sing in the church and they did prison ministry,” recalled Magee. “My mom’s a soprano, my dad's a tenor and my older brother used to have a record deal back in the day and he plays the piano by ear, so that gene is in the family, I guess.”
Magee is equally creative and reports that family get-togethers often include sing-alongs. “Little ol’ Melissa is an alto—can you believe it,” says Magee. “In fact, when I'm singing for real I bring it down a couple of octaves. I really love music. My dad used to play guitar when I was little, and I just have a big musical palette. Like, I can go from Gavin DeGraw to Coldplay with some Bonnie Raitt and ‘Something To Talk About’ to Dave Koz and Kanye West. It doesn't matter, because I love good music.”
Whether it’s her broad musical horizons or reporting the weather on the region’s most popular news program, Magee is committed to making a distinctive and lasting connection with her audience. In addition to delivering weather forecasts, Magee regularly co-hosts FYI Philly.
“That's what I like over here at Channel 6 because I can do a little bit of both: I am a meteorologist, but I am allowed the opportunity and a great opportunity to participate with FYI Philly and co-host with Karen Rogers and Alicia Vitarelli,” says Magee. “It shows a different side of me. When I am meteorologist, I'm obviously giving the information, but I want to make it simple so that people can grasp the idea but I also get to inject a bit of my personality, too. And it's also fun too, especially with FYI Philly.”
In celebration of Black History Month, Melissa Magee and Rick Williams will host a special edition of Visions 2013, which airs at 7:30p.m., immediately after FYI Philly, which Magee is also co-hosting with Karen Rogers. FYI Philly airs Saturdays at 7PM, and Sunday at Midnight on 6abc. For more information, visit 6abc.com or @Melissa_Magee on Twitter.