April 28, 2019 at 1:56 pm

Alumni News | Zontini Starts at 1 a.m. to Get Dayton Ready to Go

Kirstie Zontini, portrait

Kirstie Zontini

Ohio University alum Kirstie Zontini ’11 usually gets to work around 1 or 2 a.m. She has weather forecasts, stories, and graphics done long before most people’s alarms go off. And as coffee pots start to brew, folks can rely on her forecasts to help plan their days.

She has been the morning meteorologist at WHIO-TV in Dayton since 2015. Kirstie credits a lot of her success to curriculum and hands-on learning attained as she studied broadcast journalism and specialized in meteorology.

A Day in the Life

Zontini works for the number one CBS affiliate in the country, WHIO-TV, and serves as the morning meteorologist for television broadcast, plus many other duties.

“Our station is unique because we are a merged newsroom, which means we have TV, radio, digital, and print all in one building,” she says. So her daily duties include forecasting on all four media platforms.

“I am responsible for forecasts, stories, and weather videos for all the platforms each day. On an average day, I wake up overnight and am typically at work between 1 to 2 a.m. I forecast, write a daily weather story, handle social media, record radio, and then build graphics for my shows before 4 a.m. In the morning, when people are waking up, I am on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook bringing updates and sharing pictures to get the Miami Valley up and out the door! Once the newscasts start it is a very quick morning,” Zontini says.

One of her best memories thus far at WHIO-TV was when she was able to work on a severe weather special that won their weather team an Emmy award. This past summer she was also able to fly with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels before the Vectren Dayton Airshow.

“I was able to put together a story that focused on the weather side of flying and will never forget the experience! I felt so honored that I was chosen to fly with the best of the best,” she happily explained.

Bobcats Help Bobcats

Zontini became successful by taking what she learned at Ohio University and applying it toward her passion. One class in particular that she remembers being incredibly helpful was Athens Midday.

“I learned to perform all the jobs in a newsroom. This taught me so much before I graduated about how to write, film, and edit news stories. I was able to build weather graphics, learn how to produce, and even see how to direct. On the weather side, I was able to take some great classes which gave me a great base for meteorology, including two practicum forecasting classes in Scalia Lab and climatology taught by Dr. Ryan Fogt.”

Zontini also took advantage of two internships in meteorology—at WEWS-TV Cleveland and the Today Show.

Sometimes a professor can make all the difference when finding your passion. For Zontini, hers was Dr. Fogt.

“I really appreciate Dr. Fogt, who taught a lot of the meteorology courses in the Geography Department. He took the time to meet with me during office hours if I ever had questions and really shared his passion for weather, which was contagious!

How OHIO Shaped Her

“Working in a STEM field I am happy that OU has so much to offer. I was able to create my major and specialization, which opened me to science and allowed me to develop skills as a journalist and communicator” Zontini says. “My coursework taught me about the atmosphere and climatology. It also gave me a hands-on foundation in forecasting. Combining this with OU’s reputation, I was able to get a great weather internship with Mark Johnson at WEWS in Cleveland. This really helped me get experience in my field before I even graduated.”

Zontini adds, “We have a great alumni population, and I think Bobcats are always looking to help each other out in the professional world as well. Also, my husband is a Bobcat!”

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