On The Cover: Fox News Channel Weather Meterologist Janice Dean
As the weather forecaster for the Fox News Channel, Janice has braved snowstorms, earthquakes and hurricanes alike. But for the beautiful blonde anchor, her biggest battle has been against multiple sclerosis, which she was diagnosed with in 2005. But Janice is predicting sunny skies as she speaks exclusively with Celebrity Parents about her loving, tight-knit family, raising awareness about MS, and why she won’t forecast the weather for people’s weddings.
Photos: Gabbeli Photography
My career actually started in radio. I just love the medium. I feel more comfortable in radio than in television.
There’s something about it; you’re not focused on the image. If I’m telling a story, the viewers have to use their imaginations. On television, viewers will email me and ask if I did something new with my hair! I did television on the side, and was a weather forecaster in Canada.
In Canada, I was a classic rock deejay, and I also did weather. I had that in my back pocket. So when I moved to New York, I was in news. So if Fox ever needed me to pitch hit and do news, I could. That’s something that I tell people starting their careers; you should always be able to do more than one thing.
It changes all the time. And it’s immediate; it’s what everyone talks about in the elevator. It’s a good opener of conversations. In the end, it truly connects people.
Will people stop you on the street to ask about the forecast?
It’s funny; we had this discussion yesterday. In short, yes, people do, but I think they don’t realize the stress that comes with forecasting weather. We’ve had a very active year in terms of snowstorms, earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes. As a forecaster, you want to convey the message, but you don’t want to hype it up, either. You want to make sure that viewers have the information they need to make a decision.
So I do get nervous when I make a personalized forecast. I had to forecast for two weddings this summer…weeks before the weddings! I tell people that anything beyond five days is just wish-casting. But thankfully I got it right both times! Once though, I had to forecast for a Yankees game. I said it would rain and it didn’t. That’s why you’ll hear “a slight chance of rain”. That’s called covering your butt! [laughs]
With something as unpredictable as weather, I would imagine that your job requires you to be on call.
My schedule is great at Fox; I have a set schedule, but if something happens, I do go in to cover it. You have to be there for the big stories. Hurricanes are our Super Bowl. You know that it’s going to be busy and you have to plan for it.
I loved it. I love sharing that part of my life with the viewers. The only thing is that I don’t like to block the screen! One viewer emailed me and said, “Janice, can you move a little more to your left? I can’t see Mississippi!” [laughs] Being pregnant on camera definitely connected me to the viewers. People are inviting you into their homes, and I like to share that part of my personality. If you go on YouTube, you’ll see me showing off my engagement ring and wedding pictures. People know that I’m married to a fireman and I’m a mom of two boys, and that’s really special.
What’s it like being a working mom?
It’s a balance, of course. But I can’t imagine my life any other way. Thankfully, my husband has a flexible schedule, and I have a wonderful nanny whom I trust implicitly. What makes it easier is that Fox is not just a job; it’s a family. They are very family-oriented. If I had a parent/teacher conference, I can tell them and it’s respected. They know that a good family environment makes me a better wife, mom, and employee.
I thought it wouldn’t be honest to not share that part of my life. I was diagnosed in 2005, right after the worst hurricane season in history. With Hurricane Katrina, I was working so much. I was so emotional and stressed, and my body was telling me to slow down and stop working 24 hours a day. But that was the nature during that time. In October/November, I told my bosses I need to take some time off. The day after I took off, we decided to drive to Canada. I couldn’t feel the bottom of my feet, and part of my thigh. And it wasn’t going away. The doctor in Canada said that it could be anything from a slipped disk to MS. I went back to the U.S. to get some MRI’s. They found lesions on my brain and spine. When they did a spinal tap, I had the protein that is an indicator of MS, so all the signs were there. I looked back and realized that the fainting spells that I had in my 20s were all signs as well that something was wrong.
You had mentioned that your doctor suggested for you to become pregnant.
He actually encouraged it. Many women don’t experience flare-ups when pregnant. We had been thinking about having kids, and now we had more reason than ever. It truly is a full-circle moment, when you realize that while something terrible has happened to you, something beautiful comes from it. In this case, two beautiful things.
How have you been feeling lately?
I’ve been relatively symptom-free. I’m still nursing Theodore. When I stop, then I’ll have to go back on the drugs. That’s why I nursed both of my sons for so long; I don’t want to go back on the drugs. I’m nervous that that part of my life has to start again. It shows that something is wrong with me.
But by nursing, you are doing something wonderful for your child.
In the future, I would like to help working moms who want to continue breastfeeding while they are back at work. Some companies don’t even have a place for moms to pump. More companies need to get on board with this. It makes you a better employee if you can keep that connection to your child while you’re at work.
What do you want people to know about MS?
MS is a disease that still has a stigma attached to it. Education is so important. When I was diagnosed, I thought that I was going to be in a wheelchair. It’s important to have a great support system. It took me two years to announce that I had MS. I remember that I told viewers during MS Awareness Week. When I found out, I just wanted to find other people who were doing well. Neil Cavuto has MS, and he’s doing great. I was lucky that I had him to go to, and I realized that maybe there was a greater message here. Maybe I can be that person other people can look to. Since making my announcement, I have been lucky enough to do that for a few people.
When Sean asked me to marry him, that was certainly a huge moment in my life. When I was diagnosed, he told me that he wasn’t afraid of the disease. That was an even bigger moment for me. I will always remember that. And I realize, every day, that I am so lucky. Lucky for this wonderful job at Fox that I’ve been at for 8 years. Lucky for my two healthy sons. And lucky for my husband who loves me and is willing to take the journey with me.