Chasing for a TV station or the NWS requires excellent storm knowledge. A TV station along with the NWS needs very accurate reports and your knowledge about storm structure is a must. You get paid from a TV station by giving them rights to use your video on air. You don't get paid for chasing for the NWS but the big reward along with chasing for the TV stations is the possibility of saving life and property.
How to chase for a tv station:
1. Call the tv station of interest and ask to meet with the chief meteorologist. Talk to them and tell them that you are interested in chasing for them. Talk about footage prices and anything else that may come to mind. Learning from the meteorologists can be very rewarding, so getting to know them is a must!
2. Know severe weather like the back of your hand. As I said earlier, the tv station needs very accurate reports to relay to the public in order to keep them safe. You are their eyes in the field and they can only go by what you tell them. Sure, they can look at radar and get an idea of what is going on, but only the person in the field knows exactly what is happening.
3. Be able to shoot very good footage. TV stations love quality video and if it's shaky and out of focus, they will probably not use it or they may pay you a lot less than they would if it was quality work.
4. Be able to chase at the drop of a hat. You have to be very reliable in order to "get in good" with the station. The more you chase for them and give them good quality video and accurate reports, the more respected you will be.
5. You may be given a test to see how much you know so be prepared!
How to chase for the NWS:
1. Schedule a meeting and go by the office and get to know them first. They like to see who is calling in reports to them.
2. BE ABLE TO RECOGNIZE SEVERE WX IN YOUR SLEEP! Again, you are their eyes in the field and they depend on you to give them timely and extremely accurate reports.
The way my first partner and I did it was to bring the station a video of a tornado. Our first chase yielded a tornado that no one else had seen, and the station was so impressed by our obscure catch, they offered us a gig. We had chased once in our lives, and were given jobs chasing for the number one station in the world for covering severe weather, KWTV-9 in Oklahoma City. But as with everything involving me and chasing, this was hardly the normal way things happen.
I really don't know how to go about chasing for a TV station, except to show up in their lobby everyday, drink their coffee, showing them how persistant you can be and how much it means to you.
Just a minor correction of sorts... I don't think the NWS has ever condoned storm chasing for nonscientific purposes! I'm not saying that they say it's bad or anything, but I've never heard an NWS meteorology, speaking on behalf of NWS policy, ever suggest to chase storms. I believe most NWS offices, and semi-associated SkyWarn programs, either tell folks to report from their home or, perhaps, nagivate around a storm locally (say, within 20 miles of one's home) to get a better viewing point. Yes, most office certainly appreciate storm chasers' reports if they receive them, but DO NOT represent yourself as a "NWS Storm Chaser" or anything of the sort to the public. I wonder if Mike U (NWSFO DDC) or Rick Smith (NWSFO OUN), or other NWS personnel on this board, could comment on the official NWS policy regarding this.