Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Behold the Weathergasm 5800

Introducing Weathergasm 5800. Weathergasm 5800 represents the latest advance in television weathercasting. With Weathergasm 5800, your local television station stands ready to interrupt regular programming at even the slightest hint of severe weather. Tornado? Turn to your station for Weathergasm 5800. Severe thunderstorm? Weathergasm. Garden-variety thunderstorm? Oh, what the hell—Weathergasm!

Recent posts by "will" and "cogitor" put into words what many of us have been sensing for a while now: that Omaha TV stations (and probably stations in lots of other places) have developed a hair trigger when it comes to interrupting programming for weather bulletins. Whereas 20 years ago, it took a report of a funnel cloud to warrant preemption of regular programming, these days, it seems a stiff breeze will do the trick.

That's why the staff here at OMAnews has developed Weathergasm 5800—to provide us all with a quick way of identifying a station's hasty or entirely unnecessary deployment of its meterological tools.

The latest example of Weathergasm 5800 came during Wednesday morning's thunderstorm, when KM3 gave us close to an hour of nonstop narration by meteorologist Charles "in Charge" Thongklin. Thongklin gave us repetitious, minute-by-minute updates of the storm's location, intensity, path, hail sizes, favorite color, hobbies, and turn-ons. Every now and then, he'd throw it to the disembodied voice of traffic reporter Cammi Carlisle (wasn't she a panelist on "To Tell the Truth"?), who'd report that drivers were driving more slowly than usual, due to all the rain. Thanks, Cammi. Where's Bennett Cerf when you need him?

Obscure '60s television references aside, it seems to us that this "the sky is falling" approach will condition viewers to disregard all interruptions in programming as just another overreaction and ignore warnings that pose a significant danger to the general public. Eventually, after so many Weathergasms, viewers may simply conclude that the interruption is "just Jim Flowers enjoying himself," rather than taking shelter.

As cogitor puts it,

You're desensitizing your viewers. Save the break ins for serious situations, not for pea-size hail reports and heavy rain. If I'm out in it, I already know there's heavy rain and hail. If I'm inside watching you, I'm protected from rain and hail. Just tell me if a tornado is coming so I can move to the basement.

It won't matter who's "first in severe weather" if no one takes the reports seriously.


Will said...

My goodness, you would have thought the world was coming to an end this morning. It was a thunderstorm with pea size hail (at least at my house) and it was over almost before it started.

Nonetheless, all three major stations went into battle stations. If that storm had lasted any longer, I'm sure Bill Randby and "The Chief" over at the Big Six, would have weaseled their way onto the air.

And by the way, why does Omaha need traffc reports? I left for the Air Force in 1985, and by the time I got back to start law school all tv stations and more than a few radio station had traffic updates every, I don't know, fifteen seconds. And more likely than not the traffic report consists of "no problems to report." Once again, we see the pernicious influence of the consultant.

bandit75 said...

I agree with Will. Anymore, after my daily dose of Mallory, I shut the idiot box off and listen to tunes while getting ready for work. The worst part of the information overload thanks to the big three, is we have barely entered bad weather season and they are already making it out to be the worst ever!

I can hear Flanders now..
"We hate to break into 'Hit Me Baby One More Time' again, but we have a new situation developing just southwest of Lincoln . It appears that a large swarm of locusts is devouring everything in sight. We are going to go to Brian New who is live on location. Brian are you there?"

-Brian New- "Yes Jim . It appears that a swarm of several million locusts suddenly appeared and started eating everything in sight *unnatural hand gesture*. It looks like they are coming this wa-----------"

-Ned F- "Brian are you there? Brian? Oh my god. It appears that Brian too has been eaten by the locusts. We are advising everyone to head for shelter immediately and stay tuned for more developments. Looks like we are going to be here rather late tonight. *gleeful giggle* We now return you to the show currently in progress".

Charles said...

Some might say this is a pre-mature Weathergasm 5800.

RogerJohnson said...

Did anyone see the end of Channel 7's late news after the final. Here is a rough transcript from the weather segment at the end of the show.

Bill: They cancelled the severe thunderstorm warning early tonight because lack of......

Julie: Interest?!?!?!?

The rest of the set broke up in laughter after Julie took a shot at her hubby Bill. It was almost priceless!

Renee said...

Amen to this post. A friend was sick of it and called KMTV. She was told that "this is a VERY serious storm and we WILL continue to report it". Um, the "very serious storm" was a mere thunderstorm WEST of Lincoln. I guess Omaha stations forget they aren't the only news outlets in the state.

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