Female broadcasters take pregnancy — and viewer comments — in stride
WDAY meteorologist Lydia Blume and news anchor Becky Parker are both pregnant and have experienced varying feedback from viewers.
FARGO — Lydia Blume has lived with pregnancy for nearly nine months, but she said even she gets caught off guard seeing a glimpse of herself in the monitor during her weather forecasts.
Blume, a meteorologist on WDAY-TV’s morning newscast known as First News, and her husband, Jon Stabler, are weeks away from welcoming their first child.
“I’m dealing with my adjusting body in my own way,” she said during a recent interview with The Forum.
Viewers have noticed, too, calling or messaging the station with questions about her due date.
Blume has even taken to anticipating some of the responses.
On Monday, Jan. 3, she posted to her Facebook page, “I am scheduled off today because I worked Saturday First News. Still pregnant,” she wrote, with a smiling emoji attached.
I am scheduled off today because I worked Saturday First News.— Lydia Blume (@LydiaBlumeWX) January 3, 2022
Still pregnant 😃
A native of Redfield, South Dakota, Blume earned her meteorology degree from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.
She kept her pregnancy private to viewers until she was past the five-month mark, when she couldn’t conceal it anymore with a belt or a bow around her waist.
“I did that because I knew the moment the public knew, they’d want to know everything,” she said.
Most current or former female broadcasters, this reporter included, will say they get unsolicited feedback from viewers about their appearance.
The scrutiny can be magnified when the woman is pregnant.
“My body is pretty exposed on the green screen, especially when I turn to the side to point at temperatures or the map,” Blume said.
While news anchors generally sit or stand behind a desk, meteorologists are often in full view on camera due to that “green screen” or chromakey wall they stand in front of, technology used to layer weather maps or graphics behind them.
During First News, Blume appears continually throughout the 5 to 7 a.m. broadcast, delivering weather forecasts to viewers as they tune in at different times during the morning.
Fellow WDAY broadcaster Becky Parker is also pregnant and due to have her third child sometime in June.
She anchors the 4 and 5 p.m. newscasts Monday through Thursday and 5:30 and 10 p.m. shows on Sundays.
She hasn’t talked about her pregnancy on air and didn’t with her previous pregnancies, either.
“I’d feel kind of vulnerable,” she said.
Parker said she probably doesn’t receive as much feedback as her morning co-worker due to the nature of her role.
“I’m behind the desk and not on for as long. Maybe it creates a little buffer,” she said.
Both Parker and Blume said most of the viewer comments they get are positive or supportive.
However, Blume said, some have rubbed her the wrong way because of their personal nature.
She’s been asked by perfect strangers whether the baby was planned or an “accident,” how much weight she’s gained during pregnancy and whether she’s ever gotten sick while on the air.
She usually doesn’t answer those questions.
“They feel like they know me, and that’s fantastic, but they forget that I don't know them,” Blume said.
Alison Voorhees, who co-anchors 6 and 9 p.m. newscasts on KVRR-TV, has two children, ages three and seven months.
With her first baby, she went into early labor during a newcast but managed to get through it before giving birth about five hours later.
Voorhees said she didn’t mind being approached at the grocery store by viewers who would ask when her baby was due.
“It’s neat. It makes it special. You’re growing your family and so many others are a part of it,” she said.
But Emily Welker, who co-anchors The Morning Show on KVRR-TV, said sometimes people need to be reminded that female broadcasters, and women's bodies in general, are not objects “for personal consumption.”
Welker gave birth to her daughter a little more than five years ago.
She said while most people realize it’s impolite to point out changes in other people’s bodies, she once took a call from a female viewer who clearly didn’t understand.
“I had to embarrass (her) and say, ‘I can’t believe you’re speaking to a stranger that way,’” Welker said.
Blume said her job is to let people know when the weather conditions make it safe to head out onto the road, not to “look good” for viewers.
Still, she enjoys the well wishes from viewers. She’s received baby gifts, blankets and cards from them, as have the other female broadcasters.
“They absolutely do warm the heart,” she said.
Blume will take time off after giving birth to her baby boy in late January, and meteorologist Jared Piepenburg will fill in on First News during her absence.
WDAY and The Forum are both owned by Forum Communications.