Olga Breese has been in broadcast journalism for almost 30 years, 17 of which have been in weather forecasting.
Born in New York City, Breese was raised in Southern California, then moved to the Washington D.C. metro area in high school.
She spent 10 years as a news reporter and anchor before going back to school for a second bachelor’s degree. She then became a weekend weathercaster and reporter in St. Louis.
Her résumé includes news, traffic and weather broadcast work at stations in Michigan, Missouri, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, North Carolina, and her adopted hometown of Washington, D.C. Most recently, she freelanced in Louisiana and Alabama before joining the KOAT-TV team in February.
From Breese’s educational aspirations to her blooming love for New Mexico, here’s a round up of things to know about KOAT-TV’s newest weatherperson.
The Journal conducted this interview by email, and Breese’s responses have been lightly edited for clarity.
What is your education background?
“My friends call me a higher education enthusiast — and they say that with love. It all started with a two-year associate’s degree from my local community college. I went on to earn two bachelor’s degrees in communication and geoscience. Also a pair of master’s degrees, one in journalism and the other in sustainability management from Columbia University. Now I am looking for a doctorate opportunity where I can do research on climate communication and the media.”
What are your family ties?
“My family ties are very strong which provide the needed stability when you work in a chaotic industry like broadcast news. I am close to my brothers, my father and my stepmother. Nurturing those connections to friends and family keeps me grounded and thankful for the ability to do what I love.”
How’d you get into weather?
“It was a logical pivot from news to weather as I approached my 10th year in broadcasting. When I looked across the newsroom, two departments were having the time of their lives — weather and sports. So, I knew I would specialize in one of those areas. The more time I spent with the meteorologists at my station, asking questions and watching what they do day-to-day, the clearer my choice became.”
What work accomplishment are you most proud of?
“Hands down, it’s the rigorous journalism training at Columbia University. Everyone enters the program at an individual skill level. No matter how great a writer you may think you are coming into the building, the faculty makes certain to challenge you every step of the way.”
What was the hardest day as a weatherperson?
“I haven’t had one yet! There are no hard days when you love what you do. However, the pressure mounts when a large snowstorm heads toward your area or severe weather threatens to disrupt a large city festival or outdoor sporting event. You know decision makers are counting on your forecast when considering a cancellation or postponement.”
What’s your secret skill or hobby?
“I know a lot of Washington, D.C., history. During my college years I worked as a tour guide, spending hours on an open-air tram traveling from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol Building. You build strong extemporaneous speaking and learn to reference landmarks while sitting backwards. At the time, I couldn’t have predicted that would come in handy years later at the green screen. In my down time you can usually catch me streaming a period drama with strong historical settings.”
How’d you end up in Albuquerque?
“If you’d asked me six months ago if I’d ever imagine moving to New Mexico, the answer would have been no. But I’m a world traveler, a global citizen who has learned to bloom where she’s planted.”
When did you start at KOAT?
“I drove into town on February 13, and halfway through the mountains on I-40 it began to snow. The East Coast had very little snow this winter and spring season. It was a fitting welcome for someone who thought she was heading to desert country. Bring on the summer heat. I enjoy hot and sunny weather.”
Red or green?
“As an outsider, I’ve had more experience with green, but the jury is still out. I’ll need to sample some local cuisine with to make up my mind. Or perhaps I’ll stay neutral and join the ‘Christmas’ camp.”
How is Albuquerque different from other places where you’ve worked before?
“The natural beauty of New Mexico is absolutely breathtaking. I love a great view and how the mountains change with the movement of the sun. The architecture here is unique. I’ll have to learn to cope with the lack of proximity to a beach, river or major body of water. On the flip side, there are so many new things I look forward to discovering here in the Land of Enchantment.”