NASHVILLE, Tenn. Umbrella? Check. Galoshes? Got 'em. Scarf? Sure thing.
Smooth jazz? In the CD player.
The Weather Channel released its first CD this fall: "The Weather Channel Presents: The Best of Smooth Jazz."
Think of the 12 tunes as a soundtrack to the elements. Some are hot and sultry, others cool and crisp. Some are sunny, some blue.
The songs are among the channel's most requested selections and play during the forecast fixture "Local on the 8s" that airs six times an hour. It's the cue that draws you to the TV set when you want to find out if you should take along that jacket when you leave home.
While the disc features jazz artists such as Chick Corea, Jeff Lorber, Dave Koz and Najee, not all the music played on "Local on the 8s" is jazz. Sometimes it's light rock or holiday tunes. But most all of it's instrumental.
"We tested some vocals, but the consumers didn't like it," says Shari Pace, vice president of licensing for the cable channel. "When I travel to a different city and have the Weather Channel on, the music is comforting to me. I like the calmness of it. When there are vocals with it, it changes."
Released in October on Nashville-based Midas Records, the CD is available online and at Barnes & Noble and other retail stores. It's currently No. 2 on Billboard magazine's contemporary jazz chart.
The Weather Channel has been around for 25 years and has had music from the beginning, when employees would dip into their own record collections. It was obvious from the start that viewers liked it.
"When we'd play 'Peanuts' (Vince Guaraldi's 'Linus and Lucy' theme), they went bananas," Pace recalled. "The phones started ringing."
These days the Weather Channel has an employee they call the "Music Man" Steve Hurst whose job is to find the right tunes. During the day, his selections tend to be light and upbeat. In the evening, they're slower and more sultry. Late at night, they're even more mellow.
"It was fun to add songs that viewers wouldn't usually expect to hear," said Hurst, who chose the cuts for the jazz CD based on viewer response. "Phish fans were coming out of the woodwork the first time we played one of their songs."
He started making copies of each month's playlist available to people who wrote in wanting to know the name of a song or artist they'd heard. Musicians also began sending him tapes, many of which he'd use. He receives about 80 unsolicited music previews a month.
Three tracks on the new record Mark Krumowski's "Wait a Minute," Ryan Farish's "Holding Hands" and Jeanne Ricks' "Simple Pleasure" were done exclusively for the Weather Channel, while the others were previously released.
While the jazz collection is the Weather Channel's first CD, it won't be the last.
Pace said the forecast for more music is clear and bright.