A storm is threatening my very life today

2013-02-09-09-34-51An approaching blizzard is to New York media what a Beggin' Strip is to Former U.S Congressdog Mick Cody. Both salivate at the mere prospect.

The most recent case in point occurred this past Friday when Nemo the Nor'easter (sounds like a Disney film, no?), bore down on the tri-state metropolitan area. All the major media outlets interrupted regularly scheduled programming to begin what would become a full 36-hours of non-stop, full team, StormTracker coverage of the 'Epic Blizzard of 2013.'

And, if The Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences had a special category for best performance by a TV meteorologist covering a run-of-the-mill storm, then the Oscar most certainly would be awarded to Lonnie Quinn, WCBS-TV's answer to Marlon Brando, Johnny Depp and Sir Laurence Olivier.

Beginning early Friday afternoon as Nemo began rising out of the ocean depths and threatening The Big Apple, Lonnie demonstrated to one and all that he had brought his A-game to this particular disaster.

Shirt sleeves rolled up to the elbows, tie unbuttoned and collar loosened to let viewers know how hard he was working, Quinn would punctuate his analysis with a quivering voice that waxed and waned in synchronous rhythm to match the tides just beginning to buffet the South Shore of poor, unsuspecting Long Island.

Every quarter-hour, Lonnie would provide breathless, five-minute reports on a different aspect of the approaching monster and then, totally drained, turn the greater storm coverage back to anchorman, Maurice DeBois.

But, as Maurice, and other, on-the-scene, EyeOnTheStorm team members provided live updates from Mahwah, Massapequa and Mount Vernon, we'd still catch an occasional split screen glimpse of Lonnie conferring with other, behind-the-scene meteorologists huddled in front a Doppler Radar-loaded computer.

Lonnie could be seen scratching his head, imploring one of his peers to dig even deeper into the data and, in a nice, added touch of drama, being handed sheets of breaking weather news by some intern.

Then, DuBois would come back full screen, thank roving correspondent, Sara Schleuter-Brown-Schleuter for her observations on the rapidly accumulating snow in Jersey City and switch back to Lonnie at the weather board.

Sure enough, Lonnie would look even more disheveled than before! His sleeves were hitched even higher to reveal neatly sculpted biceps. And his tie was pulled even lower to show just the hint of a nicely cut upper torso.

I began to think that, if Lonnie didn't calm down, he'd soon suffer a massive stroke and become Nemo the Nor'eastern's first official victim (On a side note, it was interesting to observe NBC's Lester Holt's negative non-verbals Saturday night when he had to admit the total number of deaths attributable to Nemo hadn't even reached double digits. Bummer.).

I realize Lonnie, and his peers, are trained professionals, but it strikes me there's becoming an increasingly thin line between reporting the facts and escalating them with needless histrionics.

As the storm passed quickly through the tri-state region by Saturday morning, the media were left with little more than, well, a slightly above average winter snowstorm. True, there were the horrific tales of Long Islanders stranded in abandoned cars on the L.I.E. and some Connecticut towns with three feet of white stuff. But, did we really need the blizzard of 24×7 coverage and blustery bantering of weathermen like Quinn?

The whole scene reminded me of a Saturday Night Live parody on the Rolling Stones classic tune, Gimme Shelter (and its opening line:  'A storm is threatening my very life today').

With the exception of the nine fatalities, the only life being threatened was Lonnie's, and it was a self-inflicted threat at that.

9 thoughts on “A storm is threatening my very life today

  1. As a former PA who worked for a national news outlet, I can tell you that when producers are looking for pictures or video to illustrate a story, they pick the most heart-wrenching ones available. When the BP oil rig exploded, we were asked to find pictures of either people crying or dead animals- if it was JUST a picture of the oil sheen, it wouldn’t be as powerful.
    It’s the same for hyping up a big storm. No one will care if the meteorologist shows pictures of a placid street or deserted grocery story. That’s why Lonny has to be really disheveled while reporting the newest numbers for nemo – anything to attract sympathy and viewers!

  2. It’s one thing reporting on a major storm; it’s another acting almost hysterical about it. While it is each newscaster’s responsibilty to make sure that people stay safe and stay home during the storm, I often thing their hysteria does one of two things: 1) it either desensitizes people to what they are saying since it seems to be almost every storm, whether it’s a major storm or not or b) it gets the average person hysterical as opposed to focusing on preparing for the storm and being smart about it. The bigger issue is that the stations won’t stop. In order for them to calm down a bit when the next storm hits, one station will have to take the lead so the others follow. None will dare do that. If one station stops overhyping,then that station will worry it will lose viewers to its overhyped competitors.

  3. Nice additional insight, Catharine. I think viewers understand weather coverage is now more about generating ratings than it is in provide reasoned, factual news. Hence the drama queen antics of Lonnie, et al.

  4. Lonnie loves every friggin’ minute. He reports a breaking storm as if he’s reading for a part in ‘On the Waterfront.’

  5. I read that Lonnie used to be a soap opera actor before finding his calling in the weather room. That may explain a lot of his over-the-top-drama.

  6. If there’s one thing that TV News producers like, it’s a good “the sky is falling” story. There are so many ways to slice the Doomsday pie. Look how many specials came out of the 12/21/12 Mayan Calendar End of the World hype.

  7. Yes indeed, Julie. And, the real winners are the Acme Supermarkets of the world. Egged on by round-the-clock doom-and-gloom prognostication, worried Americans empty the supermarket shelves of every item they might possibly need to survive Nemo. One wonders, though, how much of what is purchased in fear is later discarded because of spoilage?