The Local on the 8s or Local Forecast is the portion of programming where viewers see current weather conditions and local weather forecasts for their respective area on The Weather Channel in the United States. The name comes from the timing of the segment, as the times it airs end in "8" (such as 9:18, 9:28, etc.)
Before the implementation took place in mid-1995, the forecast was seen either every five minutes or 8 times an hour at various times (more in the morning and less at night). The name was introduced on April 26 1996 to coincide with a sweeping revamp of the channel's presentation. The Weather Channel filed for a trademark on the name on June 24 1997. The name has caused confusion in the New York area with CBS Corporation properties WCBS-TV and WCBS AM, as the properties use a similar slogan, "traffic and weather on the 8s".
Forecasts are generated by a WeatherStar machine. The machines are installed in a headend and receive the information from the vertical blanking interval of the TWC video feed and from data transmitted on satellite. The information is then inserted over the TWC feed with local insertion technologies.
The Weather StarsEdit
As of 2008, the majority of cable operators use the IntelliStar, the latest STAR system. The IntelliStar platform can also generate graphics for Weatherscan, The Weather Channel's 24-hour localized weather network. With an IntelliStar, cable viewers see current weather conditions for their area, surrounding areas, and their region; 36-hour, daypart, and 7-day forecasts; almanacs; air quality and health reports; specialized school day and activity forecast; in coastal areas, tides and marine forecasts; and, in certain large media markets, traffic conditions supplied by Traffic Pulse (which gathers the information in real time from intelligent transportation systems operated by state department of transportation).
The IntelliStar is not the only type of STAR in operation. Three other STAR systems are used sporadically. The WeatherStar 4000 is the oldest and the first in the series that produces graphical local forecasts and radar. The WeatherStar Jr. is a budget model introduced in 1993 that was very uncommon from its introduction. It is similar to the now-discontinued WeatherStar III in terms of products and appearance, but uses the typeface of the 4000.
The WeatherStar XL, introduced in the fall of 1998, is an IRIX-based machine, a major leap from 4000s in terms of capabilities and graphic generation. It was used for Weatherscan until 2003 (the first use of the IntelliStar was on Weatherscan that year).
As satellite television is broadcast to a large area, this localized weather model must be adapted for its viewers. The satellite forecast segment includes hourly forecasts for 20 major cities, three-day forecasts for 40 U.S. cities, satellite loops and composite radars of the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, and the entire west. IntelliStars are hooked up at both DirecTV's and Dish Network's primary uplink sites, but they run a different lower display line graphic at all times except during television commercials. This cycles through current conditions (sky and temperature only) and today or next-day forecasts for major U.S. cities, as well as major airport delays. As of November 8, 2006, Dish Network viewers are now able to view local weather conditions and radar on The Weather Channel on DISH HOME Channel 100, based on their billing ZIP code, along with access to weather in other cities. DirecTV viewers can get local forecasts by zip code, which works through the "interactive" function of later receiver models.
It is noted that during The Weather Channel's "Storm Alert" mode (introduced 2005), specifically when a dangerous hurricane prepares to make landfall, the number of local forecasts seen throughout the hour is reduced from six times to four - :18 past the hour, :28 past the hour, :48 past the hour, :58 past the hour.
The Weather Channel released its own smooth jazz CD in 2007, The Weather Channel Presents: The Best of Smooth Jazz, based on collections of popular music played on the "Local On the 8s" segments. It peaked at #1 on Billboard's Top Contemporary Jazz charts in the same year.The Weather Channel Presents: The Best of Smooth Jazz. Artists included on this CD are Joyce Cooling, Dave Koz, Paprika Soul, Four 80 East, Jeff Lorber, Pieces of a Dream, Chick Corea, Jeanne Ricks, Ryan Farish, Mark Krurnowski, Najee, 3rd Force. In 2008, their second compilation CD containing their most requested music was released, titled The Weather Channel Presents: Smooth Jazz II. Artists on this CD include Russ Freeman & The Rippingtons, Jeff Lorber, Ramsey Lewis Trio, Bradley Joseph, Bernie Williams, David Benoit, Spyro Gyra, Norman Brown, Chris Geith, Joe Sample, Charlie Parker Quartet, and Eric Marienthal.
Other artists that can be heard during this segment include the Network Music stock music service, Trammell Starks (who composed 40 tracks specifically for The Weather Channel), The Rippingtons, Moby, EKO, Shadowfax, Chris Camozzi, Scott Ward, Miles Davis, David Becker, Kent Marcum, and many others.
Instrumentals performed by bands such as The B-52's ('Follow Your Bliss'), Derek and the Dominos (the Layla piano exit), the Allman Brothers Band, and Divided Sky by Phish can also be heard during this segment.
The Weather Channel suspends the music during local forecasts when a hurricane approaches the United States coastal areas and airs the "Storm Alert" music during the Local on the 8s. During the holiday season, appropriately-themed music such as instrumental versions of popular Christmas carols and music from A Charlie Brown Christmas is often played during the Local on the 8s.
It is to be noted that Trammell Starks' 40 tracks and the satellite forecast are used as an emergency feed in case of technical problems or long-term outages. A particularly severe power surge in January 2008 caused The Weather Channel to only be airing mostly the emergency feed running with an older Weather Services International forecast computer (the telltale sign was that icons replaced by The Weather Channel for national broadcast and on the IntelliStar in December 2006 had returned during that time). A water leak caused all the reporters to evacuate the building.
On May 7, 2007 when TWC is celebrating 25 Years, Vocal Music was played during the primetime hours of 8:00PM-1:00AM during the Local on the 8s segments, and the Vocal Local narration was discontinued during the primetime hours on the IntelliStar until October 1, 2007.
On July 7, 2009; the day of Michael Jackson's Funreal, The Weather Channel has aired "Billie Jean" on Local on the 8s.