{interview} with Tracy Butler

 

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In order to meet with Tracy Butler, meteorologist at ABC 7,  you need to get up early. Certainly not as early as she gets up. But taking the 6:15 am train is early, it was definitely still dark, it was cold and my hair was still wet, and I didn’t wear gloves. All I could think about was when was I going to be able to drink coffee.

I had the privilege last week of sitting down with Tracy and asking her about her career and more importantly, about her closet and clothing plan. We met in the studio at 7 am. She already had a full day in by then. But by getting there early I could see her in action giving the weather to Chicago.

In the studio the cameras are like robots and are controlled by the producer, who is upstairs. I didn’t imagine that she is basically in a room by herself when you see her on tv. She does “cut ins” (which are the snip-its we see on tv) like, a lot of them. She stands for about 2 1/2 hours in the cold studio, so she keeps a bag with her that has a pair of flats and an electric blanket! 

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on the screen--where is that hair and makeup? I look terrible! and an iron, my shirt is a mess!
me on that screen! ugh–where is that hair and makeup dept? I look terrible! and an iron, my shirt is a mess!

 

Tracy is passionate about weather. She has been at it for 20 years. She believes it’s important to keep you informed and prepared, for and throughout your day. This lady has a crazy upside down schedule. 

What time do you get up? Around 1:30 AM. That’s when I see my husband, he makes me breakfast. 

What time do you go to bed? 7:30 PM. 

When do you do your weather research and preparation? At 2:30 am, when I get here, first thing I go to hair and makeup (which is awesome because I  do not look like this on the weekend, you would not recognize me!) and start working then. There isn’t a lot of chatting around the office, drinking coffee and easing into the day, we hit the ground running. Which can be tough because human nature is to be tired at 2:30 in the morning.

Do you keep track of what you wear? Yes! It started when I worked in Ohio, I received a call from a man that wanted to know where I got my sweater because he wanted to get it for his wife for Christmas. I couldn’t remember what it was but realized that I needed to keep a calendar. So I keep a calendar of what I wear, every single day.

Do you mind that people are paying attention to and commenting on your clothes and hair?  No! Then I know there are people watching!  A month ago people were telling me they loved my new hair color but I didn’t change my color , it was just appearing darker because I haven’t been in the sun golfing or playing tennis!

Do you plan in advance what you are going to wear?  I do it the night before. I have to do it the night before because it would be impossible to do it at 1:30 in the morning!

Is your closet organized? No! Well, it is in that there are dresses in one place, suits in another place, like that. My girlfriend bought me the book “The Art of Tidying  up” and I desperately need to do that . I have clothes in my closet from many trends ago. One thing my mom always said was to stick with the classics then you don’t have to worry about it. So my problem is that I have a lot of classic stuff so it’s harder to get rid of it.

Do you wear colors to match the ABC set or do you just wear colors that you like?  The big trend in local news is solid colors, no prints. Also, standing in front of the green screen limits colors I can wear. I cannot wear green or yellow because you would see maps and words over my body. So that is why you see more frequency of certain colors. 

 

Tracy Butler

Do you get annoyed when people talk to you about the weather? No! No! That’s my job! I’m glad that people feel comfortable enough to talk to me about it. I definitely welcome that.

My philosophy in presenting weather is to present the weather so that everybody understands it, all ages. State the facts and you take the information and apply it to your life. It’s a very simple formula.

Over the years I have just become so excited about my job. It’s hard to leave and go home!

I’m so blessed, think of the number of people that get to have a job like this! I am very,very grateful for what I have. The core of everything is my family (she has 2 daughters, one in grade school and one in middle school). It’s hard. It’s so hard not being there for the girls, I have that mommy guilt. I am a fanatic about picking them up from school everyday. I want to be there to get them since I am not there when they leave in the morning.

You are such a great role model for them! I hope so! I want them to see that they can rely on themselves to succeed and get ahead and be happy. Your happiness depends on certainly  you and your faith. 

Do your kids like to watch you on tv? Personally, I would prefer that they don’t watch the news! But if something comes on and they see me on a promo they get a little giddy. I am like 2 different people and have 2 different lives. One life is Tracy Butler and the other is mom, and I go by my married name when I am not at work.

When the weather is going to be bad, do you stay in the city? Yes, sometimes, if there is going to be snow. My mother will call from Pittsburgh and keep track of where I am going to be! I keep stuff here to be prepared. I hate not going home! I like being in my own bed.

How much time goes into your portion of the news? I put together all of the graphics, the maps, the statics, us weather people do it ourselves, we don’t have a producer. We go on at 4:30 and I get here at 2:30.

trying it out
trying it out

Do you think the camera adds weight? I don’t know! People have told me when they meet me that I look so much better in person! What does that mean? That I look terrible on tv? {laughing} 

Do you have fans that talk to you when you are out and about? Yes, and I don’t mind at all. I would prefer that people come up and talk to me. I’ve been in the grocery store and hear people whisper “there’s that lady from the news” and I’m thinking just come over, yes, that’s me. I do appreciate it. I like knowing that I make an impact on someone’s day, I take that very seriously and with great responsibility.

However, if you saw my children, you wouldn’t think their mother knew a lick about the weather. I pick them up from school and they don’t have coats! They say “oh mom, we don’t need them”. Please take them so at least your mother looks like she knows what she’s talking about!

Are you more stressed out in the winter because our weather is worse then? No, not really. The biggest stress for me are the hours, quite frankly.  Leaving so early in the morning and then coordinating the schedule at home, I am always looking at the clock! My husband and I hardly see each other during the week. He is a personal trainer and has unusual hours too.

Do you have date night? We have date golf! We both love to golf, we prefer to do something other than go out to dinner. We also spend a lot of time on the tennis court because our girls play tennis.

Where do you like to shop?

I love your boots! I’m a boot fan. I just bought these boots over here. They are Aquazurra, a splurge, but I love them!

Boots and coats are my vices. I will shop anywhere I can get a deal. I am not married to a brand or a store. I have to buy a lot so I like to buy it on sale! I don’t shop online, I like to see and touch the clothes, it’s too hard online.

I am always looking for dresses. Preferably a dress with pockets. Let me know if you find one!

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so, wait, where you are pointing is the opposite of what you are looking at?
just-browsing
boots!

Then she is grabbing her stuff: “I have to go upstairs now, come with me, I’ll show you around.”

Upstairs she shows us an office where she will do another cut-in in a few minutes. We meet the producer and see behind the scenes of what seemed like thousands of tv monitors . We also ran into Judy Hsu and chatted for a minute. Then back to the office. On this cut-in she gets to sit down.

Tracy is such a professional, we are chatting away about kids and then mid sentence she is like “oh hold on a minute” and then she is immediately talking to the camera, presenting the news without missing a beat.

{photos by Nicole Regan www.cedarandrush.com}
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