Is WFMY Afraid of the Rain?

Posted by Don Moore on March 28, 2010 at 11:28 pm under Uncategorized | 21 Comments to Read

Will the television people EVER learn?

Sunday afternoon, the Piedmont experience its first major storm of the Thunderstorm Season. It was a nasty one. One TV Station meteorologist started tweeting about it early in the day. These storms happen every year, some are bad, some are not.

WFMY was airing the last game of the Elite 8, a game which a local favorite was playing. Because of the weather, WFMY had added several crawls and a rotating banner on the bottom of the screen to alert their viewers of the impending storm.

When the first half of the game was finished, WFMY went local – or should I say LOCO! Local news breaks during half-time festivities has gotten to be pretty normal; however, WFMY had nothing to report that was breaking or relative as they had already reported the coming storm. For what seemed to be an eternity, WFMY showed the same maps over and over, with weather commentary by their weather presenter, who apparently was not ready to go on camera at this time.

They showed the radar, they showed the path, they showed some projections. They repeated. This continued well into the Second Half of the Game, nearly 8 minutes of playing time had passed before WFMY returned to the game. In the time they took, basically they said – there is a bad storm that is affecting 2 or 3 counties in our 41 county viewing area. Watch out. They had no local reporters in the field (it was a weekend, when most stations have a skeleton crew). They did finally get a hold of a 911 Dispatcher in Davidson County for a phone report.

I’ve got a PHONE REPORT for you – WHERE’S THE GAME!

As I said, WFMY finally returned to the game with a little over 12 minutes to play. Then they went BRADY BUNCH on us, putting the game in a small box and re-runs of weather maps on the Big Screen. BUT WAIT! Now we can watch the Game on Digital 2-2 or Digital Cable 522…. Think so. I think not. Where I was watching the game, that was NOT an option. You must subscribe to Digital Cable or High Definition Satellite to watch those channels.

So now we have DUKE playing for their life and WFMY pushed them into a small un-watchable box, so that their weekend news staff can act like they know what they are doing.

I haven’t seen such an amateur display of news since WXII pre-empted the Seinfeld finale for the report of a plane crash (that never happened).

People where I was watching shouted that this would have never happened if this was CAROLINA playing. People were dialing WFMY with no answer, all-lines busy, all circuits busy.

I know something about this as I worked at WFMY from 1979 to 1981. We had a massive winter storm and considered it a local emergency. It affected most of the WFMY viewing area and occurred at a time when we were barely staffed. We get Lee Kinard to the studio and he immediately begins dispensing the weather and alerts BETWEEN program segments. Instead of pre-empting programs, we pre-empted commercials allowing Lee to convey the necessary information, along with closings. We did not miss a single program segment, including “THE DEAN SMITH SHOW”.

Other stations were wall-to-wall with Storm-gasm 2010. WFMY had DUKE basketball. Instead of giving the few counties affected weather briefs, WFMY fell into the trap of going wall-to-wall as well. As a result, NCAA basketball fans are un-happy, Duke fans are worse than un-happy and WFMY has some explaining to do.

Yes, the storm was nasty, there was some damage. BUT WFMY, you angered your viewing public by going overboard. People could see the lightning, hear the thunder and when the winds got strong – they might have turned on the TV or they might have decided to seek shelter.

The sad part is that this is going to happen again. Heavy thunderstorms and tornado watches/warnings happen this time of year. Weather happens.


  • Brian said,

    i bet the people in high point who have been displaced from their homes after the roofs were torn off might beg to differ. i think the safety of people in our area is more important than a game. just my two cents worth. whenever there is a tornado warning, all stations stay on the air until the warning is off no matter what the programming is.

  • Brian said,

    but hey, i guess that is just your opinion.

  • Wondering said,

    What happened was it was a Sunday, no managers at the station and the vain weather geeks had control of the station. YES, be safe, give us a banner at the bottom of the screen every five minutes, yes, break in during commercials and show the path, but pulling the whole screen for your vanity? That was insane, they couldn’t even come up with enough to say that was unique, they just kept repeating the same thing over and over and over, even when the warning was CANCELED they kept babbling on.

    They should face a fine and the weather personnel should be given someone to manage them that has a brain. They could have accomplished the same message without taking over the center stage to feed their egos. They easily could have warned of the impending storm without overtaking the program that was on. Telling Duke fans to go to 2-2 or 521 was an insult (I am not a Duke fan) as very few viewers have that option, in fact, if that was a viable option, why didn’t they send the detailed weather coverage to those channels and just leave a small insert on the main channel? Why, vanity.

  • Don said,

    A majority of the weather damage in the WFMY viewing area happened long after the basketball game had finished. It would be interesting to see if the 30 to 40 families displaced were watching WFMY.

  • Mick said,

    8 and 12 did it too I believe.

    I think the all hands on deck, all but wall to wall coverage for hours was a bit of overkill. I am glad that at some point in the broadcast that someone informed them that not everybody has TW Cable. They could have had a crawl and occassional breaks, split screens, etc.

    Was a big storm

  • Andy said,

    The regular WFMY Shows were on WFMY TV HD #2….I watched Undercover Boss and Cold Case as I do every Sunday night and they did some switching back and forth and the only thing I think I missed was the preview of next week’s Cold Case show and that is usually only a 30 second clip….

    It helps to be a channel changer and Sunday night is pretty much my only viewing night of the week and I like my WFMY TV 2 shows and I did not have to miss any of them last night due WFMY HD #2….WFMY HD #3 was showing other games beside the main feature on WFMY #1 throughout the NCAA Tournament and that was good thing too and Thanks to 2 for having all the bases covered….

    I find weather to be very boring after the initial info so it was good to have some place else to go last night…..

  • amused said,

    This wouldn’t have happened if it had been UNC. Case in point, two years ago during the semi’s of the ACC tournament bad weather hit the southeast rather hard. The Chalrotte area station covering the tourny showed the entire UNC/Vatech game. Seconds after UNC won, the weather gurus started their coverage of the storm and potential impact. The coverage lasted well through the entire 1st half of play of the Duke/Clemson game. The storm had been raging all day, but the station conveniently risked peoples’ lives to show the Holes play, and put on their safety hats when Duke was playing.

  • kirk said,

    Games was on Time Warner channel 521 without storm coverage. Storm was serious. They had to cover it. It was also covered split screen. If there had been more damage and the coverage were less people would be upset with that angle. A lot of people are out of there home this am.

  • spaz fan said,

    Your right Andy, This is why News 2 is LAST in the ratings every year.

    And the poor weather girl really was clueless. I kinda feel bad for her.

  • John said,

    All these complaints come from people who would be on TV saying – “we had no warning – there was no time to react to the storm – the news stations should have warned us!!

    Quit your bitching – peoples lives were at risk!!

  • Mick said,

    I understand the locals (2-8-12) felt they had no choice.

    I dont think wall to wall coverage, 3 meteorologists and a weekender for hours was necessary to keep the public informed. I dont think that made us safer than crawls or split screens or updates. Those guys and gals were walkin all over each other 1/2 the time. Repeating what they just repeated. The same level of protection/warning could have been achieved with crawls and updates. They made a choice. Not neccessarily wrong but overkill in my opinion.

    Glad they take their jobs seriously. In the end, I would obviously have to say “better safe than sorry”. They did a good job at both though.

  • Wondering said,

    Nobody is saying they shouldn’t have given notice and coverage, but be realistic, they could have had the weather coverage in the small corner screen, plus the banner at the bottom and ANYBODY watching would have been aware and warned.

    We all have seen tornado warnings as just a bottom banner and sometimes a small map showing the coverage area. The weather people were just trying to justify their existence.

    I agree with Spaz Fan, the weather girl was clueless and they set her up for failure.

    This is another reason ESPN should have these games, not WFMY.

  • Gotta Agree said,

    John is right on the money. Lives were changed and homes and businesses were destroyed. And these idiots are crying about not being able to see a basketball game. The FCC mandates that the stations MUST broadcast during a WARNING (not a watch). During a weather watch, it can be raining hard as heck but the stations are not obligated to interrupt coverage for it. They usually break in for a minute or run trhe ticker. Per the FCC’s site:

    “In the event of an emergency, many people rely on radio and television to receive updates on what is happing and what to do.

    The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is a national public warning system that requires TV and radio broadcasters, cable television systems, wireless cable systems, satellite digital audio radio service (SDARS) providers, direct broadcast satellite (DBS) service providers, and wireline video service providers to offer to the President the communications capability to address the American public during a national emergency. The system also may be used by state and local authorities to deliver important emergency information such as AMBER (missing children) alerts and emergency weather information targeted to a specific area.

    The FCC, in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service (NWS), implement the EAS at the national level. Only the President determines when the EAS will be activated at the national level, and has delegated the administration of this function to FEMA.

    Exception: If your local television, radio tower or studio is damaged during a natural disaster like a tornado, you might not receive emergency alerts. EAS was designed, however, so that if one link in the dissemination of alert information is broken, the public has multiple alternate sources of warning. ”

    Basketball over public safety? These whiners love to complain about student athletes’ priorities being in the wrong place…hmmm wonder where the kids got THAT from?

  • Mick said,

    Again, who said dont cover the weather or show the important info at all? No matter the pre-empted programming I think the coverage was over done. The stations obviously disagree as they all did it.

    Do you think the extent of the coverage was adequate, under served or overdone?

    For me it isnt a question of one over the other but it could have been done differantly w/o sacrificing any info.

  • Andy said,

    If Channel 2 or 8 or 12 for that matter could have had a reporter out in the field showing the severity of the storms that might have been able to let the viewers connect with the impact of the storms….

    Just showing weather maps and computer read outs probably didn’t faze parts of the audience and they just thought it was a big rain storm, when in reality tornados were touching down….

    FOX 8 did show video from one of their viewers where a funnel cloud was touching down and it would go up and then come back down, but no damage was mentioned by Van Denton or Charles Ewing…..

    Viewers need the cold hard facts or otherwise they will not pay attention to the warning signs…….Sad, but true……Until we saw the devastation in Madison back in the late 90’s, most thought that Friday was just a day filled with dark clouds, but the entire downtown of Madison and parts of Mayodan were leveled…..

    When you see some of the photos with the destruction from last night’s storm, then you know this was one of great magnitude….

    Some families lost everything, they lost it all……

  • amused said,

    This is a huge safety issue and we should have the government pass new laws that require people in trailers to have specialized warning equipment. People are just too irresponsible to see crawlers on the bottom of the page. Please enact laws that blatantly broadcast weather issues. Please write President Obama today. He will make sure that your freedoms to be inside of your single wide while its roof is ripped off is ruined by the fact the NCAA’s will no longer be on your TV when it happens.

    PS. UNC games need to be exempt from these new policies.

  • bb fan said,

    IF YOU WERE ONE OF THE MANY FAMILIES IN THE NORTH HIGH POINT AREA YOU WOULD UNDERSTAND. BEFORE I WAS ON YOUR SIDE. TODAY,AFTER GOINT THRU THAT STORM,I KNOW THEY DID WHAT WAS BEST. ASK ANY OF THE HUNDREDS OF ONLOOKERS WHO CAME THRU BLAIRWOOD TODAY AND THEY WILL CONFIRM THE EXTENT OF DAMAGE. LAST NIGHT WE HEARD THAT ROAR OF A TRAIN THEY TALK ABOUT.

  • Heidi Maravich said,

    Well, at least you got “picture in picture” of the game or could turn to CBS MMOD or the other channel if you have cable.

    Remember the Kentucky Derby and WXII a few years back. There was no other option…

  • tee tee said,

    The station serves the public 365 days a year first and not the interest of basketball fans for 1 night. If a tornado had hit downtown Greensboro or any trailer park or housing community in the Cardinal or Irvin Park, then the station would have been threaten with losing its license for years for not serving the public. Everyone will forget about this in a couple of days and it will mean nothing but if somone had died and there was even a chance of them not have knowing – well you know how that would have ended.

    My final point is the most obvious that 90% + of the households should have thought about instead of crying about all of the weather coverage. If you at least had a computer with internet service, then you could have done what we did which is go to cbs.com and watch the game on your computer. A 22″ screen is not the same as a 55″ screen but at least we did not have to see it in rerun on ESPN.

  • Carl J. Hawk III said,

    This was a pure ploy for the local station to get their moment in the sun (pardon the pun) and put their anchors out there, since no one watches the local news anymore. There were 100 options they could have used and picked the worst one, particulary if you are DirecTV customer (as am I) who doesn’t get the alternate stations and who had to watch the game on the internet. Add that to the fact that ALL OF THE OTHER LOCAL stations were broadcasting the alert, so it would be hard to make a case that people were in the dark. But WFMY 2 has showed an abuse of power (they were one of only a handful of markets in the nation not to show a CBS MMA show a few years ago — something that drew national headlines from this site).

    Oh, and considering that Carolina Tarheels are the team of choice in NC by a wide margin, I find it doubtful that WFMY would have blocked out as much of their game as they did to Duke. If this is policy at WFMY, I wish they would relinquish their contract to CBS and give it to a more deserving station.

  • Barack Obama said,

    We need better weather warnings for the people of our fine country. I will be asking congress to support a bill the protect those who have made the choice to live in substandard housing. This will protect 15 million people who would have otherwise been at risk.

    This should bring increased protection to Pleasant Garden, Climax, Browns Summit and Colfax. Thanks you for supporting these downtrodden areas of your community.

    Of course, we will need the rest of the country’s 300 million people to pay for this. Thank you for your support. Also, I decree that UNC games will never be pre-empted by anything other than a screen crawler.