Friday, February 12, 2010

663 How to Cover A Storm

663 How to Cover A Storm

Well, most of us are still here after the two-punch snow job we got over the past week or so. So even if it was the storm of the century (and it might turn out to be so, though the century's pretty young yet) we made it. And chances are, we watched a lot of it on TV and chances are we couldn't tell the difference between these two and a thousand others that have come and gone.

Meteorologists will tell you that each storm has a distinct personality, a unique behavior and its own fur coat. This is not true. It's the same damn thing over and over.

And they're all covered by reporters and producers and camera crews in the same way.

First, there's the run-up. When the Big One is forecast, it is necessary to dispatch reporters to the barn or garage where they keep the plows and the sand trucks. They'll set up the picture so there's some poor beleaguered guy in need of a shave, bundled up and with a watch cap on in the center. In the background will be huge stacks of bags of something, most likely sand or salt and fork lifts going back and forth carrying smaller stacks of bags from one side of the room to another. No one has ever determined why the fork lifts have to move the stuff from side to side when the entrance to the barn or garage is where the camera is standing. Probably they have to move the stuff under their contracts, but don't want to risk moving it so as to bury the poor beleaguered guy in need of a shave, bundled up and with a watch cap. Or the camera.

The guy will then say something like "we're ready for this one, Bob, we have X tons of salt and X tons of sand and we're in good shape." The reporter then peers into the camera with that oh-so-sincere and serious look and says something like " we'll soon see all of these men and women out on the roads, clearing the paths ... blah blah blah..."

When the snow starts, possibly a day later, the Street Cams take over. The news anchor will go from outdoor scene to outdoor scene showing you, the viewer, what it looks like on this road and that corner.

Then the meteorologist steps in and talks in front of colorful charts that show the projected path of the storm and seven different alternatives in case the first is wrong. By the time that's finished, you wish you were watching the shopping channel.

Finally, comes the snow. So now it's time to bundle up the reporters and send them out into chin-high drifts. If there aren't chin-high drifts, seat them on hip high drifts. If there aren't hip high drifts just let 'em stand up and prattle.

Every damned one of them is the same. Only the punch line differs. There are two possibilities: (1) "We made it through the storm! or (2) We dodged the bullet this time.


--Here are the 911 photos ABC glommed from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. They will mean less and less depending on how far you were from the Trade Center that day. Those of us who knew and used the buildings or lived downtown or worked downtown or escaped with our skins will think differently.

--Jay Leno didn't even say goodbye on his last prime time show. They said it was because the Costas interview ran over time. C'mon, guys. The show's TAPED, and they could have edited the final version down.

--Leno, Letterman and Oprah shared a camera in a super bowl commercial. Great fun, great bit. Does anyone remember what the ad advertised?

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2010

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