CBS News Detroit prepares for the elements with Next Weather Tracker

CBS News Detroit has further solidified its weather presence ahead of its full newscast launch with the addition of a mobile weather vehicle, branded the Next Weather Tracker.

The vehicle’s debut comes ahead of a slate of original programming set to hit the market this fall, expanding upon the newscast launched this summer on CW 50, WKBD.

In true Detroit fashion, the Next Weather Tracker made its official debut at the North American International Auto Show as part of the Ford truck exhibit.

“These are not inexpensive investments for sure, and I think it just further solidifies our plan to really make a mark in this market with starting our new local newscast,” said Brian Watson, general manager of CBS News Detroit, in an interview with NewscastStudio.

“It’s another sign of the seriousness and investment and support that we have from our parent company,” said Watson.

CBS News Detroit worked with Accelerated Media Technologies on the vehicle customization and buildout, using a Ford F150 Police Interceptor as the base. That particular model of F150 is built in neighboring Dearborn.

“We’ve got a couple of unique things installed within the truck that gives us the advantage over our competition,” said Paul Pytlowany, news director at CBS News Detroit.


With an eye toward winter weather, the vehicle includes sensors that can read both ambient air temperature and the road surface temperature.

“We also have a slush cam in the wheel-well that allows for in-situation readings of snowfall accumulating,” said Pytlowany, with Detroit seeing approximately 33 inches of snowfall annually. 

The vehicle includes 5G bonded cellular transmission capabilities via a LiveU LU800, which can use up to eight modems and serve as a production hub with support for multiple cameras and audio feeds.

A 360-degree rotating camera is included on the roof along with the weather sensors and enhanced LED lighting. Blackmagic Design’s Smart Videohub CleanSwitch and SmartView Duo are also included for video switching and routing.

The back of the vehicle includes a 55-inch monitor for remote reporting.

On the marketing front, Watson expects to heavily showcase the Next Weather Tracker as a differentiator for CBS News Detroit and a further extension of the newly launched Next Weather brand.