Tucked away in the University of Oklahoma School of Meteorology, various students diligently work with Baron Lynx™, piecing together their weather stories for multiple projects. There are about 100 students in the department at any given time, with about 40 graduating yearly.

Shawn Riley of University of Oklahoma
Shawn Riley, Research Data Specialist within the School of Meteorology

Shawn Riley, a Research Data Specialist within the School of Meteorology, watches over his students using the forecasting workstation while reflecting on the past.

The university is no stranger to Baron forecasting products. They’ve used former products Viper and Omni and began using Lynx — which combines weather graphics, weather analysis, and storm tracking into a single platform — seven years ago.

Lynx was developed with input from more than 70 broadcast professionals, including meteorologists and news directors. Lynx garnered rave reviews once released in 2016 as it enabled meteorologists to communicate captivating weather stories and dominate station-defining moments. TV stations liked that Lynx offered them a scalable architecture they could configure specifically for their needs.

While the university has also used other forecasting software, Lynx remains the status quo.

Early Adopters

According to Riley, students have access to Lynx from the beginning. He also offers a one-credit class on Baron most students take as a standing sophomore.

“The minute they walk in, they can access the machine,” he adds. “They can start experimenting and working to build weather stories that can be streamed to the studios here at The National Weather Center and Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communications.”

University of Oklahoma Dept of Meteorology

Riley says students quickly embrace the capabilities Lynx offers. “Students enjoy working in Lynx. They don’t find it super difficult. We recently started doing long-form coverage using Lynx full studio and online.”

At what point are they knowledgeable? Or perhaps even superusers?

“Some students catch on faster than others, but for the most part, usually by the spring semester of their junior year, most of them are pretty well versed,” Riley notes.

Lynx, used for weather analysis, weather display, and forecasts, empowers broadcast meteorology students to publish their forecasts, making them visible to people outside the classroom. This technology allows students to refine their professional expertise and make a name for themselves before graduation.

“I have students who are about to start their junior year who are already freelancing and working on the market. For someone who’s about to start their junior year in meteorology, that’s nothing to sneeze at,” Riley says.

The alumni who come back, especially those who have been gone for over a handful of years, are delighted to see students using Baron Lynx.

University of Oklahoma Meteorology Students: Poised Storytellers

“A lot of the alumni currently either use Baron or a competitor. They can’t believe it. Before 2010, students used Photoshop and PowerPoint on the University’s news program, OU Nightly.

When alumni see what students are doing now and what they’re putting together, they are completely blown away. The students are using technology now that the alumni use in their careers each day.”

-- Shawn Riley Research Data Specialist, University of Oklahoma School of Meteorology

The meteorology department boasts a 100% placement rate. Riley adds that Lynx plays a big part in that success for several reasons. He credits Lynx with helping his students become more well-rounded. They also learn how to fine-tune their storytelling skills. Lynx enables students to incorporate other available weather data and create graphics ideal for the classroom environment.

“It sounds weird, but one of the most valuable things happens when students are putting their shows together,” Riley says. “Lynx is getting them thinking about what story they’re telling. Getting them in front of a full graphic system helps them get into a mindset more about structuring their content and how they want to tell that story.”

Riley has advice for any other universities contemplating bringing Lynx on board.

“If students are interested in producing, broadcasting, or weather communication and the university has the funds, it’s just a no-brainer. The amount of skills Lynx gives students to be successful when they graduate is well worth the money. Having Lynx expertise is so worthwhile when students graduate. They can then find jobs in larger markets like New Orleans and St. Louis."

-- Shawn Riley 

“If the University has the resources, but they’re not using Lynx, they’re doing students a disservice. It’s a no-brainer.”

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