Wednesday, June 04, 2008

WOWT: Stanley Cup? Hail No!

After Monday night's epic triple overtime Stanley Cup Final game five, hockey fans were anxiously awaiting tonight's game six in Pittsburgh to see how the Detroit Red Wings would respond to being 35 seconds away from hoisting Lord Stanley's cup, only to let the Penguins tie it and then win it just before midnight.

Mother Nature and WOWT-channel 6 had other plans tonight. With tornadoes rumbling across eastern Nebraska and western Iowa, weather interruptions preempted much of tonight's game. And for good reason... severe weather is much more important than a hockey game or Husker football game.

But by that same measure, if you are going to interrupt regular programming for storm coverage... cover the frickin' storm. For much of the evening, WOWT chose to show Ejacuweather Meteorologist Jim Flowers standing in front of his weather computer. (Thanks to Ted Brockman of the Omaha TV News blog for coining the "Ejacuweather" term!) Super Dooper Mondo Radar? Well, it's in a fuzzy monitor in the background. Pictures of storm damage? How about occasional pans over to anchors John Knicely and Tracy Madden instead.

WOWT did decide to bring back partial coverage of the game with about a minute left in the second period by showing the game in a box covering about half the screen. Which was a fine compromise, except that we still had to look at Jim Flowers face over the rest of the screen. Still no radar images to let us know where the storm was. Just Smiling Jim reassuring us that everything was going to be fine.

Which made it a lose-lose situation for everyone. If you wanted to find out where the storm was, you had to switch over to one of the other Omaha stations. Both KMTV-Channel 3 and KETV-Channel 7 did fine jobs showing us where the storms were at and where they were going. But if you wanted to keep track of the hockey game, you had to deal with Smiling Jim yakking it up.

I will credit Flowers for turning off the continuous coverage late in the third period when it became apparent that the threat of tornadoes had passed. We did get to see Pittsburgh pull within one goal with about 90 seconds left, as well as watch Pittsburgh narrowly miss scoring another game-tying goal as two shots narrowly missed as the the clock expired.

But WOWT dropped the ball tonight. They would have served the public better by either limiting their weather coverage to a simple scroll, or if they were going to preempt the hockey game, show us something other than Jim Flowers face.

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