Matt Hinkin, meteorologist at WATE Channel 6
Do people ever complain to you about the weather or your forecasting of it?
Most people understand that our forecasts are about 93 percent accurate. It’s that seven percent that most people remember. Of course, there’s more pressure with big events—when it’s winter or when Tennessee plays at Neyland Stadium, you’ve got 107,000 people, and if you tell them no rain and it rains, you’re kind of like, “Argh.”
How did you get into meteorology?
It’s kind of funny. My first degree is in sports broadcasting. My first job was as a news reporter, editor, photographer at a small station in Joplin, Mo., and they asked me to fill in doing the weather, and I thought, “This is kind of cool. I could like this a lot.” So I started looking for full-time weather jobs. Nobody would hire me because I wasn’t a meteorologist, so I went back to school to get a second degree in meteorology. [Hinkin has worked at WATE for 15 years.]
Do you get excited when there’s a tornado warning, or severe weather?
Our energy level’s up. We don’t want anybody to get hit by a tornado, but when there is severe weather, it fuels the fire. That’s when people are watching. When you get an email or a letter from somebody who says, “Hey, thanks for telling me about the storm. I was able to keep my kids in, and they weren’t hurt,” you realize you’re doing your job, keeping people as safe as possible when that time comes.
Why is meteorology called meteorology?
In the old days, back to mythology and the earlier astronomers, anything falling from the sky was considered a meteor. - ology is the study of something, so the study of things falling from the sky, that’s how meteorology got its name.
What’s your biggest on-camera flub?
Five or six years ago, this tooth [touches one of his front teeth] got bumped, and eventually it died, and I had to put a tooth in there with a post. Well, that post eventually started getting loose. One night we were doing severe weather coverage, and it was so loose that it fell out on the air. Matter of fact, up in the control room we still have a picture of me with that tooth out, and it says “Storm Damage” under it. Luckily, the radar’s up on the screen so people don’t actually see it, but I start talking like stth, stth , so I picked it up—the anchors are cracking up—so I took a piece of gum and stuck it up in there and got through the newscast.
Some nights when we do the 11 o’clock news everybody’s just loopy, and there have been times when I’ve cracked up so much that they’ve had to take another camera, especially when you’re tired, and somebody does something funny. There are things that go on behind camera that people never see.
If you and WBIR meteorologist Todd Howell got into a fistfight, who would win?
Todd and I are good friends. We’ve known each other for years. A good friend of mine lives on the same street as he does, so when I drive by and Todd’s out, we chat. Now, we don’t call each other and ask each other what we’re forecasting, but we’re good friends.
If there were a dance called the Hinkin, what would it look like?
Something [involving] sticking out my booty. Everybody says I’ve got a booty for dancing. It’s funny because we get up in front of the camera, off-air, when we’re checking the cameras, and the audio guy might throw on some funky music, and I’ll be up there, you know, and I’m getting too old to kind of move around like I used to.