Jeff George has been named the new chief meteorologist for the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network (FPREN). George joins FPREN from KOKH-TV (FOX 25) in Oklahoma City, where he has worked since 2007 and served as Chief for 14 years. After a long-running television career, George comes to FPREN with a desire to make a difference and seek a brand new challenge in his career. “That’s what’s important to me,” George said, “that it makes a difference.”
FPREN is a collective of 13 public radio stations that reach Floridians through radio broadcasts and online stories that contain critical information during extreme weather events. The organization is headquartered at WUFT-FM/TV in the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. FPREN received the 2019 Community Lifeline Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for excellence in public service.
A Pittsburgh native, George found his way into meteorology through service in the Air Force, which he joined in 1991. After stints in Florida, Mississippi and Italy, George was stationed at Fort Polk, Louisiana, as part of a combat weather unit. George enjoyed this “bold” challenge for many years and soon felt it was time for something different. In 1999 he came to KALB-TV to look for a new challenge. He had developed a friendship with the chief meteorologist, who insisted George give televising a shot. “I needed to be here,” George said. He then spent the next 20+ years in television, serving markets in North Dakota, Ohio, Texas and Oklahoma before joining FPREN in June.
When it comes to George’s goals at FPREN, he’s most looking forward to “providing forecasting and safety across the state of Florida and South Carolina” in this new role. “I’m looking forward to promoting safety on a much larger scale.” George said, “At the same time, on a smaller scale, I’m looking forward to mentoring broadcast students and preparing them for the world of television. That excites me more than anything.” In addition to reporting the weather nationwide, FPREN also trains students at the College of Journalism and Communications for a future in forecasting. After so many years of experience, George said he was ready to pass that knowledge on to the next generation.
George wants the public to know that FPREN staff are deeply involved in the science of weather when making safety regulations. Because more than anything, George has a passion for the people of Florida. “We rightly care about people and their safety,” he said. “Our job is to keep people safe from danger and to ensure they are aware of every danger associated with any tropical system. The bottom line, whether it’s new information or memories, is our mission to make sure everyone and their families are taken care of before, during and after major events.”