Friday, August 05, 2005

Throw Out Your Televisions!

In today's News-Sentinel:

As a concerned citizen and a survivor of the tornado that struck Fort Wayne in 2000, I encourage everyone to purchase a NOAA weather receiver. For a few dollars, you can have early warning of approaching severe weather and be able to take proper safety precautions. This is especially important in light of the poor severe weather coverage on our local television stations.

One example of the poor coverage was on July 16. NOAA at 7:17 p.m. alerted the stations and receivers of a “Tornado Warning” for Allen and DeKalb counties and specific information about the path of the storms. Soon after the alert, local stations posted a warning label. However, there wasn’t immediate, specific information given. It took 20 minutes until WANE-TV Channel 15’s Greg Shoup finally reported some specific information about the warning. At approximately 7:46 p.m., almost a half hour after the NOAA alert, WPTA-TV Channel 21/33’s Michael Morrissey reports that this storm “is very serious.” If it’s that serious, why the delay?

Between NOAA’s alert and Channel 15’s and 21/33’s actual live reporting on the storm, they aired several commercials. These commercials claimed that their station was No. 1 for news and weather and that when severe weather happens, they will bring us quick and up-to-date information. When Channels 21 and 33 merged, the owners mentioned that it would actually be beneficial with expanded coverage. This evidently does not apply to weather coverage!

This is not an isolated incident with the local channels. After a couple of similar incidents of delayed reporting, my wife and I purchased a NOAA receiver, and we don’t regret it. I would suggest that Channels 15 and 21 stop arguing about who is No. 1 and just do a better job of covering weather for the whole viewing area.

Rod Strayer

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