As Hurricane Katrina charged toward the Louisina-Mississippi coast, Weather Channel personnel could barely contain their glee. Approximately thrice per half hour, viewers were treated to an overwrought, drum-saturated graphics package reminding us that we were watching continuing coverage of the storm. In fact, it was so overdone that it often looked like a Saturday Night Live parody.
Then there were the on-air meteorologists, who got more excited the longer Katrina remained a Category 5 hurricane. "This may be one of the worst hurricanes in American history!" one of them gushed. Similarly, as the storm weakened, so did their enthusiasm (Katrina was a Category 4 storm by the time she made landfall). Around midnight, one guy tried to convince viewers (or maybe just himself) that the storm could still shift direction and come ashore west of New Orleans (a more disastrous scenario); it was if he were rooting for that to happen.
If you're having trouble grasping just how worked up these people were, just think back to anytime Jim Flowers was on the air during a tornado watch or blizzard. On the Weather Channel, the only difference is that there are about ten Jims running around yelping like excited chihuahuas, eager to tell anyone who'll listen how bad things could be.
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While we're on the topic of weather, WOWT viewers were treated to fill-in anchor Sheila Brummer's disclosure (to high-talker/meteorologist Jeff Jensen) that she is frightened by thunderstorms. "That's why I don't do weather!" she announced.
Really, Sheila? That's odd, because we had always assumed you didn't do weather because YOU'RE NOT A METEOROLOGIST! Or is this just more of your stiff "banter"—you know, stuff you say just because you think it sounds like something an anchor should say?
When will Big Six management realize that Brummer is in no way a suitable substitute for Tracy Madden? She's clearly out of her league and doesn't seem capable of improvement. While Madden is knowledgeable, understands the stories she's delivering, and appears to have examined her script prior to airtime, she stands in stark contrast to Brummer's crosseyed-deer-in-the- headlights personna. Brummer always seems about two stumbles away from what used to be called a "nervous breakdown." She looks jittery and ill-at-ease—not exactly a soothing on-air presence.