Southern Media

I thought leisure suits and women’s shoulder pads, backward baseball caps, reality television, and the downward spiral of working politicians was idiocy at its worst. Obviously I was wrong. This past weekend was the culmination of several years of stupidity that keeps proliferating and deteriorating. The trend has little hope of reversing itself.

What I’m referring to is the need of television stations to place some outmanned soul in the midst of the elements to report an impending storm. Why? Seeing a drenched dimwit in a fluttering yellow rain suit trying to scream lucid comments over the howling wind doesn’t improve my understanding of a storm’s severity, or increase my TV viewing experience. Maybe Stephanie Abrams in a wet bathing suit, but not Al Roker in a flapping slicker.

I know a picture is worth a thousand words and a video is worth a million. Every local TV station has emphasized that for decades; showing irrelevant “film at eleven” of house fires, train wrecks, and small planes landing on highways far away from home just because they had the video.

We’ve all sat through compelling interviews of some illiterate county dump truck driver who compared a tornado to a freight train or a tenement project dweller describing what the police did to the harmless crack head who shot at them first. I get all that. Seeing it happen is much better than reading about it in the paper. But still. Can’t this be stopped?

It has to be Jim Cantore’s fault. I’m pretty sure he was the first one; at least the first credible one. Jim Cantore worked out. He sported guns instead of arms. He could stand up to seventy MPH winds and talk in his normal voice and still be heard. He knew what he was talking about and worked for The Weather Channel, a network that featured powerful elements 24/7. Still does.

But a few things have happened since Jim first started appearing in Cocoa Beach, Bayou La Batre, and Nags Head in a tight tee shirt on a regular basis. All the other Weather Channel guys wanted some glory for themselves. Regrettably, none of them look like Jim. Jeff Morrow brings to mind those pasty-legged joggers in short shorts and no shirt. Not pretty, not pretty at all.

Soon local stations began to send unprepared minor celebrities to the storm site to compete for ratings and television glory. The results were disastrous. You Tube is full of epic failures by small market weather persons trying to compete with the elements.

Most of these people are overmatched by normal life. A pending storm is out of the question. One Columbia weather guy was so badly traumatized by a tropical storm in Myrtle Beach he had to change occupations. I think he’s currently showing poodles in New Jersey.

The resulting idiocy climaxed this past weekend as we suffered through unending footage of innumerable news readers scattered all over the East Coast trumpeting the most recent Storm of the Century. At least they weren’t standing ankle deep in water wearing hip boots like last spring’s flood coverage.

Are we as TV viewers not smart enough to understand what one hundred MPH winds can do? Don’t we all know by now how a storm surge works and what an emergency preparedness kit should contain? Don’t we all understand this is a ploy to increase ratings using fear?

Somebody please make them stop it. Enough is enough.

Mike Cox

Mike Cox

Mike Cox currently writes a weekly column in South Carolina for the Columbia Star called "It's Not a Criticism, It's an Observation." He is trying to grow old as gracefully as possible without condemning the current generation in charge to doom. Each day this task gets harder as the overwhelming evidence mounts. He currently has two published books; Finding Daddy Cox, and October Saturdays. His columns have won three South Carolina Press Association awards since 2003. Mike has three sons and two grandchildren and lives in Irmo, Sc, just outside of Columbia.