Actress Kristen Wiig – talking about passion and going for your dreams – once said, “You have to do what you really, really, really, really want to do, even if it scares the shit out of you.” As a child growing up in Texas, Payton Malone was terrified of the tornadoes and intense storms that were frequent occurrences in the area. But instead of backing down to his fear, Malone embraced it, became obsessed with the weather, and pursued a career in meteorology. Starting his TV career in Gulfport, Mississippi opened Malone up to forecasting the tropics and hurricane seasons, which made the transition to the WWL-TV meteorology team a no-brainer. Malone has now been added to the popular morning team, along with Sheba Turk, Eric Paulsen and April Dupre, as the weekday morning meteorologist. He’s sure to become a fan-favorite, so we caught up with him to find out more about the New Orleans transplant. 

Q: How does it feel to be a part of the WWL-TV morning team? I’m so excited to be actually part of the morning team. One because, you know, I want to be in New Orleans for as long as possible. But the morning team here is just incredible between Sheba and Eric and Leslie and all of us, we all just get along so much. I mean, heck, we play tennis together every single week now. So, it’s a great team all around, but getting to be on the morning team and be getting the forecast essentially, every day, that’s one of the best parts is kind of just being to do what I love the forecasting part every single day. So very excited about that. But more so I mean, honestly, it’s just so fun to work with the group that we get to work with.

Q: What is your favorite part about your job? If I had to break it down, there would be two favorite parts. One would be, obviously, my job as a meteorologist, and the tropics, specifically, while I, you know, never want a hurricane to come here, whenever there is something in the Gulf, that’s when I felt like I really get to do what I love, which is trying to figure out what the heck these things are going to do. And try to help people understand what it’s going to do. So, I do enjoy that. And then of course, the work family itself. We all just, I think we’ve all really lucked out that one we all get along, not only on camera, but off camera as well. And you know, nothing we do is certainly fake on camera, that’s for sure. 

Q: A lot of our news teams become local celebrities, have you experienced any of that yet? That’s one great thing about New Orleans, too, is somewhat of, you hate to call it a dying industry, but I would call it a transition industry where TV is certainly not what it used to be in the ‘80s and ‘90s. But in New Orleans, people still watch the news, and especially if there’s a storm coming. People definitely go watch the news. I get noticed plenty and when I go out, so that’s just telling that people still watch the news. And even younger people still watch the news. So, I think that’s another great thing about this area in general, people still turn on the TV in the mornings, not as many as they used to, but it’s definitely that we still feel wanted.

Q: Hurricane season is upon us. Do you have any tips for people to prepare before the season ramps up? A lot of people down here have been through so many. But after last year’s hurricane season, it can become really easy to get kind of complacent. And we are all so sick of it that by Hurricane Zeta, we were all like, “oh, who cares what happens at this point.” It’s just a reminder that I think if there’s something we learned last year, it’s that the hurricane seasons can be long and drawn out and some of the worst storms can come on the backside of it. I mean, sometimes just because it’s a quiet start doesn’t mean it’s going to be a quiet finish and vice versa. You know, don’t over worry yourself. There’s never a reason to worry yourself. But I think if I had to give one piece of advice that I wish everyone would just take to the bank is be very careful. There’s so much information nowadays, especially on social media, and so many of these, what we call “armchair meteorologists” or “social media meteorologists,” where they have no background in science or anything, but they’re giving tens of thousands of people all this information that is sometimes terrible information. So, make it your priority to find a really reliable source, of course, it’s going be the weather service, the hurricane center and anyone on TV in our market. Anyone who’s on TV is going actually be a scientist or meteorologists. So, just make sure you’re getting your information from a good reliable source and not just some cool looking at graphic or random page on the internet.

True confession

The thing that still scares me to death the most is lightning. I absolutely can’t stand in the middle of the night when lightning sounds like it’s striking right outside your door.