What's Her Story? | Meteorologist at 9NEWS Kylie Bearse

If you’re like me, you probably walk around campus and read about alumni and see amazing women doing amazing things and wonder, “What’s her story?” So, I decided to find out. Introducing “What’s Her Story,” an ongoing series profiling amazing women doing amazing things.

Meet Kylie Bearse, a CU grad who’s currently a weekend morning meteorologist (among many other things) with a smile as warm as a June forecast!  

  1. 1. What made you choose CU Boulder? What was your experience?

    Kylie Bearse: I applied to CU on a whim after I got a flyer in the mail and actually didn’t know much about it. I applied for Journalism and was directly admitted to what was the Journalism School at the time with a pretty decent scholarship. Most of the schools I’d been looking at were private schools in Boston or California, so my dad said let’s go and at least check it out. I got that feeling when you drive over Highway 36 and see the Flatirons for the first time, and you just go, “I’m never leaving.” I graduated in 2011 with a degree in Broadcast News.

  2. 2. You have a degree in broadcast news, then went to study meteorology. What was the transition like?

    KB: I thought I wanted to be a reporter or anchor, but my first job in Idaho Falls, Idaho asked if I could do weekend weather as well as reporting. It was during those first six months on the job that I fell in love with meteorology. 

    I did a few weather reports while I was at CU, but I always resented when people said I should be a ‘weather girl.’ Growing up, they were portrayed as unintelligent talking-heads. One summer I interned at 9News and saw amazing female meteorologists who were scientists, not just ‘weather girls,’ and it started shifting my mindset.

    I originally went into journalism because I was good at reading and writing, it came really easy to me and I loved it. If I’m being honest, I was afraid of going back to school to study Meteorology and focus on science, but I actually enjoyed it and surprised myself when I was good at it. Becoming a scientist is one of the things I’m most proud of.

  3. 3. What does your day-to-day look like as a meteorologist?

    KB: My day-to-day is so different. I’m a weekend morning meteorologist, so I’m up at 3 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays (the hours are terrible but the job is really fun, it makes up for it). First thing I do when I get in is look at models to put together my forecast, then I’ll get ready to be on air from 6-9 a.m. During weekdays I’ll do the weather on the noon shows, plus I have a weekly food segment called “The Feed” where I tell the story behind restaurants across the Front Range. I also get to do Theatre Reviews of the Broadway Shows that come through Denver. I’ve always done more than just weather which keeps my days fun and interesting.   

  4. 4. I’ll be honest, I took a weather class in college and hated it. What made you fall in love with it?

    KB: I actually really ended up loving my meteorology classes and learning the ‘why’ behind the storm systems I grew up with. But what I love the most is that you have an instant connection with anyone - you can go anywhere in the world and weather is something we all have in common. The weather impacts everyone’s lives, and for a lot of people it has a huge impact on their livelihood, like farmers. 

    I also love being able to be myself. The biggest complaint I got when I was starting out in news was that I would smile through serious stories. I’m a naturally happy, bubbly person, and with the weather, I got to be myself. I get to talk about the hikes I go on, where I went skiing that week, encourage people to get out and explore Colorado which is awesome.  

  5. 5. What does it mean to you to be on the news every day delivering the weather report? Does it ever get old?

    KB: No, it doesn’t get old. I feel really lucky to be able to be that person people trust to tell them about the forecast. I love getting to connect with people. I know that social media has a lot of downsides, but being able to communicate something and have people immediately respond is super cool. People are genuinely curious about the weather so it’s fun being a part of teaching someone something new.

  6. 6. Do you even use a weather app? I don’t like mine, so what's your *professional opinion*?

    KB: I use Radarscope, My Radar, and, of course, the 9News weather app! 

  7. 7. HCCU: What’s it like being a female in this role? In this industry?

    KB: You’re definitely fighting those stereotypes that I grew up with and there’s an added layer from viewers that they feel like they can comment on our appearance - our dress, hair, makeup. What’s been incredible is being a part of one of the few weather teams across the country that’s more women than men, I had always been the only woman or one of two on staff in every other job. 

    One of the best parts of my job is doing school visits to talk weather with kids in Elementary School. I love showing up in a dress and heels because I  want young girls to see that scientists can be girly if they want to be, they don’t have to look like Bill Nye. That loving science doesn’t pigeonhole you into one role, you can still love reading, writing, theatre, sports, and still be a killer scientist.

  8. 8. Favorite type of weather?

    KB: I love forecasting snowstorms because there’s a concrete outcome you can measure. Plus I love to ski (although not very well!).

  9. 9. HCCU: What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to learn?

    KB: For me, it took a long time to be okay with the viewer emails that came in. In my early twenties I would take every comment so personally; if someone said I was fat or ugly or did a bad job, I’d go home in tears and let it really affect me. It took a long time to find my confidence and realize that not every person is going to like you and that’s ok. I have a lot of empathy for people who take time out of their day to send a stranger a nasty email, they probably have something they’re battling at home so I always respond with kindness. 

    I’ve also learned to take ownership when forecasts don’t go as expected. I now take it as a cool opportunity to teach people about what went wrong and why. But that doesn’t necessarily stop the emails - people love to take out their anger on meteorologists. I always say we are the common enemy because no matter your politics, everyone can agree to get mad at the meteorologist and say “we get paid to be wrong.” If that brings our country together, I’ll take the heat, but we do have over an 85% accuracy rate with our forecasts, which is pretty good for predicting the future! 

  10. 10. Worst day on the job?

    KB: This day was a huge factor for me when it came to switching from news to Meteorology. I was in my first job in Idaho, and three people from a family had been electrocuted in a drainage ditch trying to go after their dog. An electrical line had been cut, making touching the water deadly, but no one knew as they kept going in one after the other to help. Everyone ended up dying as soon as they touched the affected water. 

    I had to show up with a camera to talk to this family that was in shock. I knew it was my job to tell their story, but I felt sick for this family and sobbed the whole way home, it was so awful. It was then that I realized I wanted to be on the side where you’re warning people about bad things that could happen, not showing up after. With the weather, we get the opportunity to tell people about impending danger, educate them about how to stay safe - that’s the side of news I want to be on.

  11. 11. Best day on the job?

    KB: I’m not sure that I could pick just one because I’ve had such a fun time in my career. I’ve gone on TV hang gliding, aerial dancing, snorkeling with sharks, on an Olympic bobsled track, even zip-lining across the Mississippi River. The best part has been the people I’ve met along way. I worked in Minneapolis for four years where I had a weekly segment called “Kylie’s Kids” where I featured a kid in a Children’s Hospital - those were my absolute favorite because those kids are such rockstars. It was an honor to share their stories and I love following them now as they’re growing up. 

  12. 12. How do you keep learning?

    KB: With the weather, you’re always learning! There’s so much we still don’t know about weather, climate and the environment. I always tell kids that if they want to learn for the rest of their life, become a scientist.

  13. 13. Any advice you can pass along?

    KB: Network! That’s one of the best things that came out of my time at CU Boulder. Our network of Alumni is incredible, don’t be afraid to use them to ask questions and make connections. I also cold-emailed Meteorologists across the country and now I have incredible mentors and friends who have helped me throughout my career. 

    This is so cliche, but don’t be afraid to be confident in your abilities, to be yourself and don’t let others influence your opinion of who you are. For me, I didn’t start seeing success until I started being myself on TV - for better or worse. Authenticity goes a long way in this business and in life. 

Do you know an amazing woman with a story that readers would love? Reach out via Linkedin or Instagram