Like other people in the Kansas City area on Wednesday night, a new episode of “Lost” (which I was watching) was preempted by local weather coverage. A small but violent storm tore through the metro around nine o’clock, and by nine-fifteen, each of the network affiliates had their local weather personalities on, pointing at colorful maps and interviewing reporters in the field surrounded by hail.
The most egregious of these Chicken Littles is KCTV5’s Katie Horner, who is usually the first to interrupt a show and has been known to stay on the air for hours on end. Admittedly, she’s an easy target to pick on, as she’s become the posterchild for weather forecasters in this town, but my beef really isn’t with the interruption of programming. We’re smack dab in the middle of Tornado Alley, after all, and if a tornado touches anywhere within a hundred-mile radius of me, I want to know about it. It’s part of the public service responsibility that all local television stations have to the public.
But local networks love one thing above all else – ratings. And when severe weather strikes, they know that people are going to rush to their radios and television sets to find out what’s going on. And once one station preempts programming and devotes it to weather, all the other stations do it to, mostly because they don’t want to be left out. It’s a pack mentality, and instead of useful information, we get a production that isn’t helpful. And gets an episode of “Lost” booted off the air. Which makes folks upset.
If you feel that strongly about it, you can try to get Katie fired. But even if she did get fired, they would hire someone else who would do the same thing.
In case you were wondering, I’ll be watching “Lost” this weekend. At least they had the decency to run that over the M*A*S*H rerun they usually have after the news. Real big of you, guys.
(Thanks, as always, to Tony for the links.)