Monday, May 2

Local News

Okay, I realize I seem to be aiming at the broad sides of barns today, but remember I missed most of spring training with a groin pull. Which is not funny.

I've been pissed off at local news since 1976, but I keep imagining they'll get something right by accident one day. I never used to watch, but then a few years ago the school moved my wife into a room with outside windows, which also meant they moved her into a room with no air conditioning, as that nod to economy had been made when they finally got modern conveniences in the 90s. And she went from weather curious to weather obsessed, and suddenly we were watching three local newscasts at the same time. And it all came back to me, like recognizing the guy who punched you in the nose in gym at your high school reunion.

And things just continue to worsen. Around the first of the year one channel, no doubt prompted by a ratings success story in some larger market, took away all the chairs from the newsroom and had the male anchor walk around like he was trying to find the doughnuts. He'd come across a "reporter" and toss it over to him for some insight on the Peterson jury or that weekend's Chocolate Fest. Apparently viewer response was highly negative, as they sort of sneakily phased it out. Right now it's medium shots of somebody-or-other standing in the hallway, minus the cinema-verité camerawork. I guess it's supposed to imply they're all busily gathering actual news while the broadcast goes on, but it would be more convincing if they actually covered some.

I garden. I'm not raising soybeans as a cash crop, but I do try to check in with the weather report daily, especially around the frost date. Last Wednesday the Weather Galoot (we have a Weather Galoot, in addition to the standard assortment of Geeks and Bunnies; a bumptious, slack-jawed Hoosier archetype who was actually fired a decade ago but rehired after every other galoot in the viewing area complained) informed me that two storms would be passing through: a lesser one with scattered showers, followed by possible thunderstoms and three-quarters of an inch of rain. Next morning my deck was dry as a bone. I turned on the weather and he was predicting the exact same thing, 24 hours later. Never a word of why this was delayed, just lots of computer animations of what was to come. Still with me? The next morning, still no rain, and he says, "Looks like we lucked out on Thursday."

Lucked out! These people have a "Weather Team" just slightly smaller than a Midwest symphony orchestra, most of whom appear to be engaged in making promos for the Team in which they pass clipboards, nod sagely, and stare at dancing monitors, then gather for a group shot, at which point one of them folds his arms. Every so often some suit will notice that they seem to have a lot of people just standing around, so they'll produce some "special" designed to amp up Hoosiers' inherent paranoia about the out of doors. At least two channels have produced thirty-minute "What If A Hurricane Struck Central Indiana?" shows in the past couple years. After the second one I wrote excoriating them for needlessly frightening people, since everyone knows if a hurricane actually threatened this end of the Corn Belt, Superman would just fly into it and spin around counter-clockwise at supersonic speeds, thereby rendering it harmless. They never responded.

Also last week one channel had a special on a local astrophysicist and professor at a small Christian college who's written an ID screed called Weather and the Bible. It gave them a chance to try out their new Bible graphic. The Bible had a rather prominent cross on the front, meaning don't look for any weather forecasts in the Old Testament, I guess. I wrote in suggesting they should replace their weather segments with prayer circles, as this couldn't hurt their accuracy. Still waiting to hear back.

When I was a kid, David Letterman was the weekend weatherman on Channel 13. He'd predict "hailstones the size of canned hams" an' stuff. Now that was weather. And it occurs to me that if Dave were just now trying to break into local news he'd have had his heart attack at a much earlier age.


Anonymous said...

Your local newspersons must enjoy hearing from you even more than mine enjoy hearing from me.
Of course, I'd be proposing to you right now if there weren't so many barriers in the way. (My gender, your gender, my orientation, your sanity, assorted spouses and partners, various laws and moral tenets, and the whole geography thing.)
Instead, may I just sort of virtually stalk you? I won't visit you or anything, but I'd like to comment every few days saying absolutely nothing of original value except that you are a funny, funny person, and maybe also have the option of mailing you the occasional bad poem and/or small pressed butterfly.
Alternately, I would cherish a restraining order, but I'll probably continue to read your blog with a different account.
If it helps, I *am* fully medicated and considered harmless.

Anonymous said...

how on earth can i follow THAT expression of devotion with my measly "Right on, dude!" kind of comment?

sheesh! i'll try ... i'm lucky because i don't have to watch the weather much (i live in sunny california - where the weatherpersons have it easy).

but i have not-so-fond memories of weatherpersons in south central kentucky. we'd get hammered by tornados, despite predictions of a sunny day. and not only were our weatherfolk bumbling, they were also - hum - unattractive. as a child, i remember my father yelling at the television, "oh, lord! here comes the WEATHERSOW!"

and a weathersow she was. they eventually shipped her off to cedar rapids, where she began "a new career track."

but i'll try not to get in a lather about my local news. all i'll say is that when that crazy lady put a finger in her wendy's chili, our local news turned into the 24-hour-finger-in-the-chili channel.

Anonymous said...

doghouse, i live near indy, as i believe you do, and i don't watch local tv news because it reeks.

one thing i do watch is the weather so i know what might happen the next day.

maybe i'm a old, bitter, mean-spirited man, but it would be nice if you gave the names of the weather galoot and the bible weather prophet.

c'mon, man, don't be such a fucking hoosier with that if-you-can't-say-anything-nice-don't-say-anything-at-all mentality. it helps keep our state a puddle of mediocracy.