Parveen relishing success as NBC10 weather forecaster

Parveen : "I think a lot of people use the word 'passionate' to describe [Delaware Valley residents] . . . and it's very true."
Parveen : "I think a lot of people use the word 'passionate' to describe [Delaware Valley residents] . . . and it's very true." (ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: August 20, 2012

If you didn't know who Sheena Parveen was before the Olympics, you undoubtedly do now. NBC10 ran so many promos for its weather team during the games that you saw more of the young meteorologist than you did of Bob Costas.

Parveen, 26, was the one in front of fellow forecasters Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz and Bill Henley, the one always closest to the camera, the knockout who recalls Disney's Jasmine.

On this muggy August afternoon, she's in the studio waiting to deliver her forecast on the 5 p.m. broadcast. She examines her image in the camera, adjusting the hang of her red dress and arranging the fall of her long, wavy hair.

She describes the look she's going for on-camera as "classy," which she's certainly pulled off. At least for the parts of her that viewers can see.

From the knees down, she looks like a member of the Bad Girls Club on house arrest. Two black boxes, controlling her microphone and the feed from the control room, are velcroed to her left calf.

With a skirt or pants, the boxes can hang unseen at belt level. But a dress? "If I wear it back here," she says, gesturing at her lumbar region, "and turn to the side, I look like Quasimodo."

After today, the red dress will go into quarantine for at least a month.

"At my first job in Tallahassee," says the St. Petersburg, Fla. native, "I used to write down what I wore with the date next to it. You have to be careful. You have people who watch just to see what you're wearing."

Parveen's wardrobe has grown exponentially as she jumped, first to the Fox affiliate in Tampa and now to Philadelphia, the fourth-largest TV market in the nation.

Her career trajectory can perhaps best be described as meteoric.

"I will admit it's a steep rise," she says, "and I'm very grateful for everything I've gotten. But I would like to think my performance in front of the camera is what got me here."

No question she's a top-notch meteorologist.

As NBC10 news director Anzio Williams says, "She brings a knowledge of weather and weather systems and she's able to break that down into a good weather story. She knows the importance of preparing and protecting our viewers, and she projects the right sense of urgency for severe weather."

Yet there's no getting around the fact that some of Parveen's most ardent fans couldn't care less about the barometric pressure. And they're not likely to notice if she wore the same blue frock three weeks ago.

They just find her unbelievably sexy.

"As soon as she came on the news, I started getting e-mails asking me to post pictures of her," says Maurice, the lead blogger for the website Barstool Sports Philly. "When I put anything up there of Sheena, [the reaction] is 90 percent positive, which is very high.

"My audience is mostly college-age guys, and gauging by their comments, she's loved regardless of her journalism chops."

As an attractive woman with a high-profile job, Parveen knows she's going to get crassly objectified on the Internet. She tries to avoid the virtual wolf calls.

"I do not go online, for that reason alone," she says, her sunny disposition turning overcast. "I do not want to see what people are saying about my looks."

Does she think her beauty factors into her rapid career advancement? "You'd have to ask the people who hired me," she says.

"Look, I like to think that people enjoy watching me. I hope so," she says, laughing musically. "If they don't, that would be a huge problem.

"But I hope I come across as knowledgeable enough that they would think I didn't just get the job by being able to point."

It must be galling for Parveen to be thrown in with the ranks of low-atmosphere weather babes. She is, if anything, overqualified for her job. She holds a Certified Broadcast Meteorologist seal from the American Meteorological Society. That's the gold standard in the industry.

According to the most recent data available from the AMS, fewer than 30 percent of TV weather forecasters have earned the seal.

To put it in perspective, Cecily Tynan doesn't have one. Neither does Kate Bilo or Sue Serio or John Bolaris. Neither Al Roker nor Sam Champion is certified, for that matter.

A college degree in meteorology is needed even to apply. That's followed by a pair of rigorous tests.

Let's face it: You need to be a serious weather geek to pursue a CBM.

According to Parveen's mother, Sherry, a retired computer programmer, her daughter always had that quality.

"I recall when Sheena was about 5 years old," Sherry says by e-mail. "She loved to take her umbrella and walk out in the rain."

Sheena's father, Mike, a financial planner, remembers her competitive side at that age. "As a child she was very dominating," he says. "We'd be playing basketball and she'd show up and literally take over the game. I started calling her 'Take-Away Girl.' "

As for her background, Parveen is your standard American mongrel. "I'm a lot of things," she says. "Irish, German, Native American, Persian. It's really a combination."

She didn't start this journey glamorous. "I was tomboyish when I was younger. I wore soccer shorts to school almost every day," she says, bursting into laughter at the admission.

She enrolled in the meteorology program at Florida State University. "It's a very small department, and it's hard to get that degree," she says. "It's mostly math and physics."

Her aha! moment came when a professor suggested she might be suited to the campus weather show.

"I said, 'You guys have a weather show?' I'd always loved watching people do the weather, but I never knew what route they took to get started. From that point on, I said, 'This is what I want to do.' "

Parveen got the benefit of a long, fruitful apprenticeship conducted out of the public eye.

"I did a live weather show at Florida State for three years, starting as a sophomore," she says. "It was student-produced, and we made all kinds of mistakes. It was a great experience."

Her no-pressure probationary period goes a long way toward explaining her remarkably unflappable on-air demeanor today.

"I never get nervous on camera," she says. "What's the worst that can happen? I stumble over my words? I lose my train of thought? I've been through all that before. It's not an issue to me."

The way newscasters' roles are perceived, meteorologists tend to get little respect. Yet they may be doing the hardest job.

They have to unpack a great deal of information in a very compressed time, make scientific concepts simple to grasp, structure the narrative, and do it all at top speed without a script.

"It's all ad-libbed," says Parveen. "People are always surprised by that. I guess because they know the anchors are reading off teleprompters, they think why wouldn't we be?" She laughs heartily.

Philly's gossipmongers have worked hard to link her with various guys, with little success - and little proof.

"I don't talk about my personal life," she says. "I don't Google myself. All I would say is, 'Don't believe everything you read.' "

She implies that her home life is pretty boring. When not working, she says, she goes home to take care of her dog, a Lab mix she rescued from the side of a highway in Georgia when she was a college student.

"I don't watch much on TV, but when I do, it typically has to do with weather," she says.

Hmmm. Sounds like her parents' character assessments might still apply after all these years. Sheena is hopelessly hooked on weather, and she wants to run the game.

Hang on to your bow tie, Hurricane. Take-Away Girl is in town.


Contact David Hiltbrand at 215-854-4552 or dhiltbrand@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @daveondemand_tv. Read his blog, "Dave on Demand," at www.philly.com/dod.

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