Weather Channel: It's Raining Men

When a former executive with New York City's Office of Emergency Management was interviewed about Hurricane Irene, his big concern was the famed stubbornness of New Yorkers. They just don't take direction, he bemoaned. He's right.

I live a block from the Hudson River, categorized as Zone A, an evacuation area. But like the rest of my co-op, I'm going down with the iPad. Evacuate? I'll take Manhattan, forget the Bronx and Staten.

I made the requisite water, batteries and Twizzlers run. Of course, Saturday afternoon, I wondered what to do about the windows. D-Day is not the best time to discover one should have visited Mr. Hardware.

Instead, I relied on the TV experts -- glued to New York 1, the local cable channel, and The Weather Channel. And in between useful and strangely addictive information -- what to pack in your Go Bag, key emergency centers, there was some off-kilter remarks.

But first, the practical realities. Ever since Katrina's "Heck of a job, Brownie," no politician wants to be caught unprepared.



For my money, NYC Mayor Bloomberg inspires muy confidence, ditto New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He positioned himself before the National Guard, stressing state efficiency, while extolling the partnership between government and the public in safeguarding lives. New Jersey Gov. Christie sounded like a disgruntled bouncer -- risk-prone Jersey residents could get out or shut up. For those who may entertain presidential ambitions, cool and competent beats huffing and puffing every time.

But in between the technical updates of Hurricane Irene -- which are impressive -- and the ongoing local impact as it traveled up the East Coast, there were some wacky exchanges.

On Saturday, in Nags Head, North Carolina, The Weather Channel's Mike Seidel and New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter stood side-by-side, tiny drenched blue specks against a super-windy white background.

"He's down here covering how we cover the storm," Seidel shared. Really? Since when did the NYT become "The Daily Show." "What's it like out there?" the comfortably dry in-studio anchor asked. Stelter likened the experience to a "tilt-a-whirl," admitting: "It's a littler harder to stay on the air than I thought." Not to be outdone, Seidel added: "We don't get sand pay, buddy."

In review lingo, we call that "plucky."

A day earlier, another Weather Channel correspondent stood in the high reeds alongside the N.C. coast, sounding slightly disappointed that the promised devastation had yet to hit. He'll feel differently when the wind blows his lips off.

In New York, TWC's Jim Cantore, who easily wins The Most Buffed Reporter Ever award, flexed in front of the Atlantic Ocean, as he relayed the possible dire consequences on Lower Manhattan. Highly animated, Big J noted: "We may be shut down for weather! Wow!"

By Sunday, flooding hit the Northeast and an estimated 4 million nationwide were without power. People from North Carolina to Vermont were slammed by Irene's destructive power.

I respect the correspondents who brave the elements to report the news. It's clearly dangerous work, and reporters can be forgiven the repetition and sheer fatigue. The networks do a terrific job of bringing viewers critical information. In a crisis, TV is still the best medium.

3 comments about "Weather Channel: It's Raining Men".
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  1. Ken Kohl from DIRECTV Sports Networks, August 29, 2011 at 11:10 a.m.

    Wind and waves are up...the power is out and the TV is blown away...Is TV really the best medium in a disaster with millions without power? I think not! I know that big screen is not going to run on either the "D" batteries or the Twizzlers. So what does run on AAA, AA C or D batteries...wait for it...RADIO and great News and Talk AM and FM stations up and down the coast provided essential emergency news and information and more importantly companionship? When wind and waves threaten you would be amazed how comforting that soft glow from the radio dial and the non-stop information stream can be.

  2. Michael Kaplan from Blue Sky Creative, August 29, 2011 at 1:13 p.m.

    Interesting post, but it begs the question: why do we NEED reporteres to do live remotes during terrible storms? Obviously, live remotes -- even when completely pointless -- are a staple of local news operations, making it seem like there's actual reporting going on, even if there isn't.

    But putting people in harm's way just because we can? Would you drop reporters into a tsunami zone so they can experience being swept away by a 20-foot wall of water? Some producers would probably say yes, but here's at least one viewer who thinks it all too much...

  3. Rob Frydlewicz from DentsuAegis, August 29, 2011 at 1:13 p.m.

    I kinda felt sorry for Cantore - such a dyanmic personality and there he was isolated down in evacuated lower Manhattan - where ultimately there was little to report. It was like watching a caged lion at the zoo.

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