For the last few years the Weather Channel has – even during live, severe weather events you’d think would warrant coverage and actually garner them more viewership – run reality shows and documentaries.
According to a story in Variety that’s about to change. The Weather Channel will once again focus on…weather. They are cutting back on personnel, tightening their belts and getting back to why they started the network in the first place as they weather a financial downturn…perhaps as a result of straying from the obvious journey they originally set sail on?
In Philadelphia most of our nightly news is turned over to the weather folks. Our TV stations use weather to tease the audience to watch nightly newscasts during their evening slate of shows. We are fascinated with the weather here because we a) always complain about it and b) can’t handle it. Nothing guarantees higher television news ratings in this region than an approaching front. Our stations don’t hesitate to sensationalize the potential for any and all storms. They get eyeballs by selling uncertainty and fear.
Indeed, we have more power outages than ever and they last longer than ever as well. It only takes an approaching thunderstorm to create the equivalent of an Emergency Broadcasting Test.
And also true, we have historically shown a complete inability to navigate even the weakest winter weather. Our ratio for auto collision/repair shops to residents is legendary.
If we get a few inches of snow? Look, if our residents aren’t out buying enough milk, bread and eggs to feed 1,000 people each they are all transfixed on their televisions.
The Weather Channel has shown a passion (when actually covering it) for sticking their personnel in harm’s way because they feel we somehow need to see a person getting pummeled by weather. We’ve all been there. Where they do come in handy for us in the Northeast is when bad weather arrives. Our local stations start to slowly turn to the human-interest aspects of situations people find themselves in when the atmosphere betrays us. We like to have the Weather Channel on “stand-by” as they (should) continuously display their radars and (should) discuss projected paths regarding the depth and length of the weather challenge at-hand.
Now…no one has a larger room for error and still maintains their jobs like meteorologists. That being said for what we can’t see out our window…well, they’re all we have.
So if the Weather Channel is going to cover more weather I’m betting a lot of folks in this area are happy…whether they like weather or not.