Monday, April 4, 2011

It's Silly Season Again

….and once again, I am compelled to relieve my bladder into the wind (or, as the TV weather people would say, “winds”) and post my annual rant about the wretched excesses of the local TV weather folks.

It was a thunderstorm, people. We get about thirty or forty of them every year. It had a lot of rain (“rains”), strong wind (“winds”), even some hail (“hails”?), and (Chuck, I’m talking to you here) some of us even knew enough to put our cars in the garage before the storm hit without you reminding us about it every four minutes.

Last night’s thunderstorm wasn’t really all that much, in terms of actual danger and damage done, but to the local TV weather folks, it may as well have been Armageddon. Whether you were watching the country music awards on CBS, the Trump/Firing show on NBC, or the Millionaire show on ABC, you were treated to a constant stream of untimely (and, in my opinion, unnecessary) interruptions by the local weather nannies.

I’ve gone down this street enough times to know it’s a dead end. This rant will change nothing. The local TV weather folks will tell you they’re in the business of saving lives when the sky clouds up, so I know this is falling on deaf ears. Yet, survey after survey in Madison shows most people believe the weather folks are over-the-top hypesters.

It’s not really about saving lives. It’s not really about warning people. It’s not even really about the weather. It’s about branding, and consultants have said for years the station that wins the weather wars will win in the ratings. The station that wins in the ratings gets to charge the most for its ads.

If you’ve got super-storm-mode-poplar-doppler-mega-radar with all the toys and gadgets and bells and whistles, you’ve got to show it off. You’ve got to scare people into believing that if they’re not watching your station when the sky clouds up, you and your family will die.

If the opinions advanced in this annual rant were not valid, those charged with managing the stations and their on-air product would have put a leash on their weather nannies a long time ago, and ordered them to tone it down.


  1. Well...

    Here in Mke we have a 9:00 PM newscast which usually includes comprehensive weather at ~9:45.

    Not yesterday, when one of our darlings was en route from St Louis to Mke by van, right in the path of the storm (TORNADO WATCH!!!!)

    Nope. Not when they have a 20++ minute Milwaukee Brewers preview all lined up, complete with a picture (!!) of Counsell's lawn mower.

  2. Channel 15 went into "storm mode" but only interrupted the commercial breaks, not the Trumpfest. Though I wouldn't have minded missing some of The Donald's bloviating (I did not select the family viewing for the evening), I also didn't mind missing some of the Supreme Court campaign commercials (I think I can recite a couple of them by heart already). Mostly, though, I agree with you.