The high priest of hysteria

3Some might point to Sunday morning televangelists. Others may cast their vote for screeching home-town college basketball radio announcers but, for my money, New York’s WCBS-TV “meteorologist” Lonnie Quinn OWNS hysteria.

The blond-coifed Adonis wanna-be is unique in his ability to play viewers like a fiddle, add a pinch of pathos at exactly at the right moment and break the nail-biting tension with a completely unexpected lighthearted moment just when we all think Armageddon is at hand.

Lonnie reaches these highs and lows whenever thunderstorms approach New York City, triple digit August temperatures are beating the bejesus out of Amsterdam Avenue residents or whenever that evil villain, black ice, threatens our health and well-being.

I mention Lonny in today’s blog because yet another “powerful, late Winter storm is barreling its way up the Eastern seaboard packing winds in excess of 50 miles per hour and snowfall amounts he’s already calling “staggering.”

Thanks to Lonnie, and his lesser-known competitors, more than 1,000 airline flights have already been cancelled. And the first snowflakes aren’t expected to fall until, get this, midnight at the earliest.

This sort of potential weather carnage has Lonnie already shifting into overdrive. He’s moved his 11 suits and 34 crisply-pressed white dress shirts into his dressing room. The shirts are key to the Brand of Lonnie. That’s because he always rolls his French cuff sleeves as far up his arms as can. He does so to draw extra attention to how hard he’s working.

So, beginning sometime this afternoon, Lonnie will take command of the studio helm (a la Captain Kirk on “Star Trek”). He’ll already be in overdrive, thanks to a mix of what I’m guessing is Red Bull and enough Adderal to keep Three Stooges fans awake for a 72-hour marathon.

Lonnie begins his work by educating viewers on the state-of-the-art technology he’ll be using to keep us up-to-the minute on this latest winter wallop. He’ll then check-in with his reporting team: the 24,000 StormTracker2 correspondents who are moving into position faster than US and Iraqi forces are on the few remaining ISIS strongholds.

He’ll warn Maggie in Massapequa to alert us to the Long Island Sound’s first two-foot-high wave. And Patty from Paramus will already behind the wheel of her fully-equipped WCBS WeatherVan. Her responsibility will be to drive endlessly around Routes 4, 17 and 46 in northern Jersey and report on delays, spin outs and, if we’re really lucky, a 16-car fender bender.

As events warrant, Lonnie will dash from his main command center to go behind-the-scenes (with camera crew in tow), sit alongside the NOAA and Doppler Radar experts, peer into their respective screens and ask, “What new news can you tell us?”

Later on, Lonnie will even don his WCBS-TV snow parka and walk a full block or so into midtown to battle bone-chilling temperatures and biting winds to ask residents and tourists alike how they could possibly be outside. He’ll typically elicit such tear-jerking responses as:

– “I needed to get to work,”

–  “Well, there’s a movie playing a few blocks down I’ve been meaning to see”

–  “I’m from Orlando and have never seen snow before.”

After warning all three to be very, very careful, Lonnie will dash back to the studio where he’ll pledge to stay right by his computer screens and let us know what’s yet to come.

While Lonnie does provide a service, he does so in the same way Reggie Jackson used to deliver his services to the Yankees. Reginald Martinez Jackson would be kneeling in the on-deck circle, anxiously awaiting a cameraman to point his equipment in number 44’s direction. Then, he’d spit out tobacco juice, violently swing his bat and stride purposely to the plate. After going yard, Reggie would slowly trot around the bases, glare into the camera and give you a look that said, “I’m the best. You know I’m the best. And, so do Billy and George.”

When it comes to egomaniacal histrionics, Lonnie is weather reporting’s answer to Reggie Jackson. Hey, the guy even has his own theme song called, “Lonnie’s Always Getting It Right.”

But, Lonnie’s NOT always getting it right. In fact, I’d say his batting average rivals that of journeyman Mets First Baseman, Lucas Duda: .250.

None of that wouldn’t matter if Lonnie didn’t scare the bejesus out of viewers who flock to the nearest Walmart and empty it of everything up to, and including, a $1,000 snow blower.

That’s too bad because no one gains when Lonnie loses (except local retailers). But, hey, Lonnie’s become something of a cult hero, and cult heroes are judged by a completely different set of criteria.


One thought on “The high priest of hysteria

  1. If I want reliable, I’ll go with ABC’s Amy Freeze. I mean, her name is a weather condition! It’s like my old man would tell me, “be a weather man. It’s the only job in the world where you can be wrong all the time, and no one will bother you or fire you!”