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Belt tightening leads Alabama station to one source for weather resources

The nation's economic downturn last year caused many stations around the country to reshape workflows and personnel needs, re-exam service and maintenance contracts and re-evaluate vendors in an effort to trim costs.

For WAAY-TV, the ABC affiliate in Huntsville, AL, the quest for savings prompted management to reconsider how it allocates resources to acquiring the data and graphics needed to produce local weather coverage. Like many stations, WAAY relied on a variety of vendors to provide different products, ranging from weather graphics and specialty weather data to all of the resources necessary to cover severe weather.

After reviewing how the station spent its budget on all of its resources, WAAY chose to use a single source to save money, said Keith Lowhorne, news director for WAAY-TV. “When WAAY had two data vendors, we found we were double paying for certain kinds of data, including National Weather Service domestic data and numerous satellite and radar products,” he said.

To eliminate duplicate spending, the station selected Baron Services as its single source of high-resolution weather products, as well as severe weather, snow, hydrology and futurecasting data, which has produced an overall savings on monthly data costs, he said.

WAAY-TV is using the company’s full line of weather display products including VIPIR, FasTrac and StormWarn, and integrated Baron’s Omni news and weather platform in November 2009.

Omni relies on high-resolution 3D graphics to deliver stories to WAAY viewers. WAAY has used Omni to cover hyperlocal news events as well as global events, such as the Haiti and Chilean earthquakes. “In addition to the earthquake data, I was pulling in pictures and videos from the Web and had all of it ready to go in Omni in less than 15 minutes,” said WAAY chief meteorologist Brad Huffines.