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TV VIEWERS FORM EMOTIONAL BONDS WITH WEATHER FORECASTERS, NEW STUDY SAYS

TV VIEWERS FORM EMOTIONAL BONDS WITH WEATHER FORECASTERS, NEW STUDY SAYS
 ATLANTA, April 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Look out, Dan Rather. Take note, Diane Sawyer. Watch your ratings, Ted Koppel. A new breed of TV personality is winning the trust and affection of the American viewer. And it's not another news anchor.
 It's the weatherman. Or, more properly, the "on-camera meteorologist." After 10 years of being on television, The Weather Channel has done a study reveling that it is common for viewers to form emotional bonds with weather forecasters and talk to the television set during weather reports. And this is normal behavior, according to psychologist Dr. Michael Wroblewski at National University in San Diego.
 According to the study, these one-way relationships, such as the type between a viewer and TV personality, are known as para-social interactions. They are widespread and affect just about everyone to some degree. However, the relationships most often involve weather forecasters.
 According to Michael Lerner, vice president of marketing for The Weather Channel, the format of The Weather Channel happens to contain many of the features that have been found to provoke social interaction, including familiar faces, informal style, and straightforward and direct speech.
 Results of the study also indicated that a viewer is more likely to bond with a TV personality if the program reduces anxiety, uncertainty, and other forms of stress. As the viewer watches and becomes more informed about the weather and more trusting of the weather forecaster, the relationship becomes more intense, according to the study.
 "One finding unique to this study was that voice tone or voice quality is a very important variable in determining whether or not people will bond with their weather forecaster," Lerner said. "Although the format of The Weather Channel is especially conducive to creating these one-sided interactions, the phenomenon is not limited to weather forecasters alone and can occur with virtually any form of television programming," he added.
 The Weather Channel has also done research that shows people watch the network to reduce uncertainty about the day ahead, which adds credibility to these theories on why social interactions occur.
 The Weather Channel, which began telecasts on May 2, 1982, is television's only 24-hour weather network and can be seen in 50 million homes nationally. It is owned by Landmark Communications, Inc., a Virginia-based media company with nationwide operations in publishing, broadcasting, and television programming.
 -0- 4/29/92
 /CONTACT: Kathy Lane of The Weather Channel, 404-434-6800, or Richard Roher of Roher Public Relations, 212-986-6668, for The Weather Channel/ CO: Weather Channel ST: Georgia IN: ENT SU:


AH-CK -- NY052 -- 4428 04/29/92 13:20 EDT
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Date:Apr 29, 1992
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