Monday, July 27, 2009

Seriously, folks, this Madison TV viewer is just plain forecast-fatigued and Doppler Maxed-out.

Three Hours of Sturm und Drang
Three hours of Sturm und Drang -- that's how long TV viewers in southern Wisconsin had to do without regular ABC, CBS and NBC programming, as the local network affiliates in Madison preempted their own local news, the network evening news and early evening network programming in order to follow the progress of the gaudy, brightly-colored Doppler splotches on their slow but steady course down the bottom half of the Wisconsin map. There has to be a better way.

Don't get me wrong. TV severe weather warnings can save lives, and even one life saved is worth a lot of inconvenience. But this was ridiculous. At any given moment during the three hours, most viewers were subjected to completely irrelevant warnings about severe weather many miles away. Three hours of false alarms. It conditions people to ignore TV warnings, and eventually they'll ignore something that really does apply to them.

It doesn't make a lot of sense, when something more targeted would be be a lot more effective. There could be a map in the corner of the screen the way there used to be, a warning crawl across the bottom of the screen -- or instructions to tune to the station's secondary digital channel for more information.

Instead, they've gone to this drop-everything, all-weather, all-the-time approach -- with frequent appeals to viewers to send in their severe weather photos, at the same time disingenuously warning them NOT to go out and take storm pictures but instead go straight down to the basement and take cover.

It's enough to make you think that this entire circus has more to do with ratings and marketing than with public safety. That they're more concerned with going head-to-head against the other stations' talking weather heads and showing off their technology than with informing the public. Or so it seems.

7 comments:

Sweetbabs said...

Totally agree! It has gotten out of hand.

Dr Bud Diablo, cloud on the horizon said...

Severe weather, you say? It didn't rain a drop here, and the breeze scarcely rippled the vulgar Packers flag my neighbor flies beneath Old Glory. I first heard of it this morning, right here on your blog. Last night, I watched a documentary about fire ants, followed by a viewing of "Goodbye, Mr Chips," the classic film starring Robert Donat. I was oblivious to gathering storms.

Of course, I have cable. You know, you really should spring for it, MadGuy. When your reception isn't being taken out by sunspots, your favorite programs are being preempted by reports of twister sightings in New Glarus. Or get a job bartending at night; then you can get paid to watch premium channels with no cutaways to shots of tree trunks floating down a swollen Yahara.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that these stations broadcast to a far broader area than simply Madison. Even if the weather is clear in town, if there are tornadoes in Lafayette or Green counties, the stations must focus on the situation there. The residents of these areas deserve no less detailed coverage than us city dwellers.

Donna said...

Ha! I couldn't escape the weather guys...I even tried Charter On Demand and ended up with a black screen with white lettering from the National Weather Service. Luckily there were library books...

Anonymous said...

It was overkill even for those who live in the affected counties. A simple crawl on the bottom of the screen would have sufficed.

Dr Bud "Rain Man" Diablo said...

Sorry to interrupt your thread, MadGuy, but I wanted to let your readers know that, at noon CDT here in Madison, the mercury stands at a comfortable 74 degrees under sunny skies, with a pleasant breeze out of the northwest.

I do want to remind all the active seniors among your readers that it wouldn't hurt to down a pint of Ensure with a water chaser before heading out to enjoy the balmy July day. Seniors tend to neglect their intake. You don't want to hit the deck at Hilldale from dehydration or hypoglycemia. It'll cost you a couple hundred bucks for the ambulance ride, you'll have to find somebody to go get your car. Sixteen fluid ounces of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

That's it for now from the Letter from Here Weather Desk. Check back frequently for updates.

Anonymous said...

sweet jesus, I waited all night Monday for the spectacular storm to hit madison, and it never did. Damn local weather pimps. Lets just interrupt Richland County programming next time.