The Weather Channel Releases a Soundtrack

Cool isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Weather Channel. Informative? Yes. Convenient? Most definitely. But for years, dedicated viewers have insisted that the Weather Channel rocks, literally. Now, thanks to a new CD called "The Weather Channel Presents: The Best of Smooth Jazz," the first in a series of albums the cable channel is producing, you, too, can discover the hip beats of the Weather Channel.

While this music may sound more like "muzak" to some, Weather Channel representatives insist that for years the songs it plays during its "Local on the 8s" segment have garnered a surprising amount of viewer attention.

"Music has been a signature core piece of the Weather Channel for years," said Shari Pace, the vice president of licensing and merchandising for the Weather Channel.

The music is such a core component to the channel's appeal that many viewers admit they watch the station just for the tunes. More than the meteorologists or even the weather, these tunes are what keep many people tuned in, and Weather Channel executives have taken notice.

The songs of the Weather Channel have even generated a sort of cult following. There are videos of children dancing to their music posted on YouTube, and even a video with Pink Floyd's "One of These Days" playing in the background to prove that the Weather Channel is more than just elevator music.

"Elevator music?  Are you kidding me?" said Pace. "It's nowhere near elevator music."

Viewers even call in or e-mail the cable channel asking to know what song they just heard. So many people inquire about the music that the Weather Channel has created a separate Web page on its Web site where viewers can find a complete month-by-month play list dating back to 1998.

"We get instant feedback [on the music]," said Pace.  "And when I tell you instant, I mean instant.  If they don't like it, we know right away."

Now, the cable channel is looking to capitalize on its faithful listeners. They hope this latest venture will turn these warm, soothing tunes into cold hard cash. While this isn't the Weather Channel's first foray into the realm of corporate merchandise, it has previously sold items ranging from apparel to umbrellas to weather radios, "The Best of Smooth Jazz" signals the first time consumers can purchase a licensed-entertainment product from the cable channel.

Weather Channel aficionados can purchase their favorite weather-watching tunes starting today at bookstores, music retailers and online. The CD features a selection of songs from popular jazz artists, such as David Koz and Chick Corea.

But why, many ask, does the Weather Channel, with more than 35 million visitors to its Web site every month and an at-home audience of 93 million viewers, feel the need to branch out into the music field? Executives from the cable channel say, like Starbucks, selling CDs is all about expanding a brand and finding new sources of revenue. If it works, the Weather Channel says, even more CDs are in the forecast.

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