Don’t start with the jokes. Amy Freeze has already heard any punchline you can throw at her, even from her own family.
“My nieces and nephews call me Auntie Freeze,” said the former Brigham Young University cheerleader who will help launch Fox News’ new weather service next week.
A meteorologist who already has fans on both coasts, Freeze says that her memorable surname played a role in her career path, and in becoming an answer on “Jeopardy!” twice.
She was working as an entertainment reporter in Portland when she was asked to do the weather for a colleague who was on medical leave, in part because her name was so perfect. She loved it and went back to school to get degrees in geosciences and environmental science.
Since then, she’s worked in four cities and won devoted fans with halftime weather reports from Chicago’s Soldier Field (she used to advise the Chicago Bears on game day conditions) and segments featuring pets of viewers (Super Cat Saturday and Big Day Sunday).
Here’s a look at Freeze’s life and career and what she brings to Fox, when the company kicks off the new service Monday.
What’s in a name?
Freeze, 47, says she was a “BYU baby” with a mom from Provo and a dad from Indiana who went to Brigham Young University to play football. (That would be Bill Freeze, also known as “Mr. Freeze,” no relation to the villain in the “Batman” universe.)
The family moved to Indiana when Amy was just 6 weeks old; four other daughters would follow. Unlike her sisters, Amy would not play basketball. “I’m only 5 foot 4 so I have to be in heels to get up to their level,” she said. But she became a cheerleader when she attended Weber State for a year, after which she transferred to BYU and was a cheerleader when Tom Young (Steve Young’s brother) was a quarterback. “I had some really good days at BYU, and my first husband was (the BYU) mascot. We were married in college and spent about 15 years together and had four children.”
Her first job as a meteorologist was in Portland, Oregon, and from there she went to Denver, Philadelphia and Chicago, where she was the first female chief meteorologist in the Windy City. Then she went to New York, where she spent 10 years with WABC before signing with Fox.
“It’s pretty cool to be a part of a brand-new brand, under the umbrella of Fox.”
No pun intended, for a change.
“I always find it fascinating, when people find out I’m a meteorologist and that Freeze is my last name, they want to talk about acronyms and nominative determinism and how your name determines your profession. And that happened to me,” Freeze said.
At age 20, she went to Portland intending to work at a newspaper to help put her husband through school, but instead wound up a writer working several jobs behind the scenes at a TV station. “I wanted to write about factional foreign wars and the European Union,” she said, but instead was assigned to cover entertainment until asked to do the weather temporarily while a colleague was on leave.
“I said, ‘I don’t know about weather,’ and they said we’ll help you get the pluses and minuses down.” She also quickly enrolled in a beginning meteorology class at the University of Portland, “and when I did that, it made all the difference in my career.”
Weather forecasting, she said, suits her because “I am a very curious person by nature, and the weather is different every day. ... Figuring out those puzzle pieces was a great fit for me.”
Fox’s entry into weather comes at a time when there is increasing interest in weather news and a declining appetite — at least temporarily — for political coverage, according to The New York Times. Average viewership at the major cable news networks declined during the first half of 2021, but grew 7% at the Weather Channel, the newspaper reported.
The weather service that Fox is launching won’t be a channel on your TV, but available through a free app on your phone and on the Fox Weather website.
“The cool thing about the app is, it literally puts me in people’s phones,” Freeze said. “It puts the meteorologists and the weather right at people’s fingertips like they haven’t had it before. I have half a dozen favorite apps that I use for weather on my phone, but this weather app is going to pop up,” she said. “You’re going to be able to look at the radar, use your fingertips to zoom in on it and then also create a 3-D image of radar. What that means to you as a user is, you can see how intense a thunderstorm is, right there. ... That’s exciting for people to be able to touch the technology.”
Users can set the app to give them forecasts in 10 different places. The app will also allow users access to technology used to make long-range forecasts to help plan vacations or other events.
“Everyone wants to know tomorrow’s weather, the weekend and their birthday, even if it’s 6 months down the road,” Freeze said. “This will be a way to satisfy some of those needs with a little bit of science behind it.”
To start, Freeze will be working live from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m. Mountain time on weekends; other appearances will be forthcoming. And, yes, she’s hoping to be able to work a pet feature into her Fox forecasts. She’s an animal lover, too, with a rescued Australian Shepherd/golden retriever who has her own Instagram account (@thesunnyfreeze).
As for those “Jeopardy!” questions, Freeze says, “Somewhere in the ‘Jeopardy!’ writing staff is someone who is fascinated by nominative determinism.”
“Both times I’ve been an answer, or a question, they’ve used my name. And it’s been a thrill of a lifetime to be on what is the longest-running game show in history, to show up as a name and have people call me from elementary school and say, ‘No way, I just saw your name on ‘Jeopardy!’”
One answer was “Amy Freeze and Dallas Raines have this profession.” (The question: What is meteorology?) The other was, “Amy Freeze became a meteorologist in Chicago at this age, which is also the freezing point.” (The answer, if you’re stumped, is “What is 32?”)
“I’ve got a friend on the ‘Jeopardy!’ staff, and I don’t know who it is, but it’s pretty awesome,” she said.
Given the famously conservative leanings of the Fox brand, some people are wondering if Fox Weather, too, will lean to the right. Asked about that, Freeze said that she is among about 40 meteorologists Fox Weather has hired, and that any discussion over politically charged topics, like climate change, is best left to others. The meteorologists, she said, are just there to report the weather.
“They (Fox Weather) have literally taken the opportunity to take this brand and find the best people available to deliver weather news. This is a new platform, but there’s definitely an appetite, for people interested in Fox, because everybody wants to know about the weather.”