A Conversation With News 6 Emmy Award Winning Meteorologist Samara Cokinos
Q: What made you decide to go in the field of telling the weather?
SC: I was 8 years old when Danny Treanor, a legend in weather in central Florida came to my school for Career Day. I went home that afternoon and told my mom I wanted to be just like him when I grew up. I had been interested in weather growing up in Pierson on a fernery, but that solidified my decision. Cool enough, when I started at WKMG in 2017, I got to work with him. It was one of the best experiences. I adore him!
Q: How many years have you been a Meteorologist?
SC: 7.5 years
Q: What is a typical day like for you?
SC: I work weekend evenings on tv and then I am a weather producer Monday-Wednesday. On days when I am on air I get up and first things first, I must have my coffee while I check the weather models. Then, I spend a little time in my garden before I cook dinner for my family. That way they have something already cooked even though I am not there. They cook too, but there’s nothing like mom’s cooking right? I do my makeup at home. That way when I walk through the door at work, I am ready to go on air as soon as I fix my hair. I get there about two or three hours before time to go on air because I need to make graphics and complete my forecast. After that I post to social media, check messages, record my own videos and send push alerts to the mobile weather app, and send updated weather narrative to the web team to keep the story of the day fresh or write another.
I am on air for three shows each 30 minutes long. My late show is 11 at night and then I go home after. Usually I get home around midnight, but weather depending I could stay at the station until 2 A.M. if needed.
Q: How has technology in predicting the weather changed over the years?
SC: The latest satellite imagery is quite amazing. The GOES-R really took tropical coverage to another level that was needed. The detail, plus the improvements in tracking storms and then even seeing the detail as it changes, really helps to show where the biggest threat of the storm is and tell viewers what to expect in more detail. The more we can help people be prepared for extreme weather events the better. The end result is more people stay safe and that’s the goal of our job.
Q: In your years of covering weather, what is the one weather event that you will never forget?
SC: There are two actually and they kind of go together. While I was a weekday morning meteorologist at KRGV in south Texas I covered Hurricane Harvey. It was the biggest storm of my career so far. It stayed offshore from the Rio Grande Valley where I was located, but it made landfall about 2.5 hours north. Then not even two weeks later I drove through the wreckage on my way to Orlando to start my job. Seeing the devastation along the way was heartbreaking a scary too because some roads were closed and not everyone had gas. Entering Florida was interesting because the interstate going northbound was bumper to bumper as people evacuated for Hurricane Irma. I arrived on Friday night and started my first day at WKMG the next day doing hurricane coverage with my new team. We lived at the station for like 3 days.
Q: Have you ever had that the one embarrassing moment on TV you can share with us?
SC: I dropped my clicker once. It’s like the thing you just don’t do as a broadcast meteorologist. I had the best floor director that army crawled on the floor, it wasn’t a full body shot, picked up the clicker and then handed it to me so I didn’t have to disappear off the screen. It was a little funny to see a random hand pop up in the screen. I laugh easily! I lost it laughing on air and had to explain to viewers what was going on. Good times. I appreciate my team, old and new, so very much.
Q: So, with your busy work schedule, where do you find time to work on a Master’s degree?
SC: Haha I actually had to put it on hold because of the busy nature of my job. Plus, I have two sons in college. It adds up fast!
Q: Do you have any advice you can share for those women who may want to pursue a career as a Meteorologist?
SC: I would say to always keep your mind open to learning new things. Every moment in television is interesting. You will make mistakes and that’s fine, we’re human and this is science, but learn from those mistakes. There’s so much to know in weather and broadcasting to learn don’t ever pass up an opportunity to learn more. Also, embrace the fact you will probably do more than just weather. I was a reporter and a traffic anchor. The reporting was the hardest, but it helped me understand what people want to hear and how to really tell a story. You also get to see parts of the viewing area you may never have otherwise had a chance to visit. The more you can do the better & stronger your resume will be.
Q: Tell us how you manage your work life balance with your busy schedule.
SC: It’s always been interesting honestly. The morning shift was tough when my boys were in high school. I would often stay up late to see them play basketball and then get home only to get up two hours later to go to work at 1 in the morning. Now, we all just make the most out of the time we get to see one another. My family has always understood the nature of my career and really stood behind me to make it happen. I’m so grateful for that.
Q: What’s one lesson you’ve learned in your career that you can share with our audience?
SC: You have to have thick skin to be in this business. Constructive criticism from consultants is part of our job. It makes you better if you really listen and learn and work on things to be the best professional version of yourself. Some of the harder criticisms to take are those solely based on your looks from viewers or trolls online. Being told you are too fat to be on tv, or your dress looks horrible, or your hair is hideous, and they can’t stand to watch you it HURTS. What I have realized is, for every mean unnecessary comment like that, there’s always 50 that are awesome and that truly appreciate what you do not how you happen to look that day. Loving yourself and the body you’re in is so important.
Q: Which woman inspires you and why?
SC: Women inspire me. Not just one, but so many. I say this as I see so many amazing women doing great things for young girls of the future. I have read history books full of simply outstanding women, I work with them every day, I am friends with them, I’m related to them. It’s hard for me to pick just one when there are so many and then so many more I have yet to meet.
Five Things About Samara Cokinos
1.If you could talk to one famous person past or present, who would it be and why?
Jimi Hendrix. Such an amazingly talented legend. I would love to hear his stories.
2. What were you like as a student?
I was a single mom at one point. Between work, school, and kids I was the late night or any free time I had studier.
3. Favorite city?
I love Chicago. Wouldn’t live there because it’s too cold, but it’s such a cool city. Great science museum there too!
4. What app can’t you live without?
Radarscope and MAPS. Always check on the weather and I would get lost in Orlando without maps.
5. Do you have any hobbies?
Running, photography, painting, gardening, and fixing cars. Yes, I love cars. Total gear head.