Surreal Video: Approaching tornado forces KSN anchors to take cover during live storm coverage

My feeling of uneasiness during severe weather quickly upgrades to full blown nervousness when tornadoes become a real possibility. I’ve had a fear for tornadoes since sitting through my first tornado drill as a kindergartener, not fully understanding why we were seated Indian style in the hallway and being told to cover our heads while listening to a scary sounding siren in the background.

For as unsettling as a tornado siren can be, I can’t imagine watching live storm coverage on my local newscast and witnessing the sheer panic as the weather guy and the other anchors run off the set to take cover from an approaching tornado.

That’s exactly what viewers saw on Sunday afternoon while watching KSN-TV in Wichita, KS. Simply surreal and terrifying at the same time.

The devastation that Mother Nature has unleashed in recent days is absolutely horrific. I found it difficult to get too upset after last night’s Blackhawks loss while thinking about the people impacted by those storms, especially in Moore City, OK and how terrorizing it must have been for those students taking cover in their school’s hallways.

While the national media is all over the storm’s aftermath, you can also get a more local perspective from various Oklahoma City media outlets, including KTOK-AM and KWTV-DT (which is streaming their live television broadcast online).

For Art Bell fans hoping for a return to radio, it’s been a long and bumpy ride

Art BellThe bumper music for “Coast to Coast AM” often asks the question “Wanna take a ride?” Art Bell’s fans have been on a ride for some time now, with many anxiously holding out hope that the former “Coast to Coast AM” host will one day return to radio.

Yesterday, many of those fans were disappointed when Bell posted the following message on Facebook:

I guess it is time to end any further speculation that I will return to the air anytime soon. I have given (2) very solid offers a lot of thought and have turned them down. My reasons are many, though I am profoundly sad at the current state of the show, both offers would have been direct competition with Coast and anger is the wrong reason to proceed. Also I really do not want to destroy what I built despite it’s current state. Asia will be in first grade in the Fall and getting up very early, I would be up late and sleeping late, I would not see much of her or Airyn. Life is short and I want to spend what I have left with my Family. I hope my friends understand…

This is the second time this year Bell announced he has turned down an offer(s) after previously hinting at the chance of a return. On both occasions, Bell stated it would not be right for him to take such offers with anger towards “Coast to Coast AM” as his main motivation.

Bell, known for his repeated retirements and returns has surprisingly been consistent since his last “Coast to Coast AM” broadcast on Oct. 31, 2010. He hasn’t been on the air.

There never was an official announcement by Bell or the program. When fan’s later questioned why Bell wasn’t filling in during any of the winter holiday shows that year, regular host George Noory made quick mention to the fact that Art was wanting to spend more time with his family and that he has probably retired for good.

Things got interesting after Bell joined Facebook in 2011. At first, Bell was mostly coy, insisting that even though he was now retired, to never rule anything out. It was last summer when Bell finally began to air his grievances against the show.

The first surprise post was Bell declaring “I wish my name was no longer associated with what Coast has become!”

Bell later clarified his wish for Premiere Radio (the Clear Channel owned syndicator of “Coast to Coast AM”) to no longer air the classic “Art Bell – Somewhere in Time” programs. Bell hinted that he would soon exercise his right to free speech if Premiere didn’t cease airing those shows. Since then, those programs continue to air and despite Bell talking about no longer being under contract with Premiere and some talk about turning down other offers, he hasn’t really exercised that free speech.

At best, I was more or less a casual fan of Bell as a young teen, listening to “Coast” when up late on summer vacation or when listening to his Sunday evening “Dreamland” shows. At that age, I had a sense that most of the callers and guests were likely making it all up, but it still made excellent “theater” — something that is completely lost when when listening to Noory’s modern day “Coast” shows.

With each time Bell announces that he has turned down an offer, one would have to think the chances of a return become less likely. It’s been interesting to observe Bell’s fans on either the Coast Gab forum or the People who Miss Art Bell Facebook group. Many of his fans have slowly realized the day he returns to the air will never come. Some have speculated that Bell is deliberately steering his fans in a roundabout direction simply to generate buzz. Many, however, still hold out hope for a return, in any capacity — full-time or part-time; terrestrial, satellite or podcast.

While Bell has always been somewhat of an odd individual, I tend to doubt he is deliberately steering his fans towards a dead end. If anything, I would guess he would love to return to the air full time, at age 40, as opposed to near 70.

Intentional or not, Bell is steering his fans on a ride all right. And for those holding out hope, there’s no end in sight.

Should the NHL permanently move the start of its regular season to January?

Chicago Blackhawks

Putting any hard feelings from the NHL lockout aside, I have to admit that the late start of this year’s regular season and subsequent late start for the playoffs has been kind of nice.

Think back to the Chicago Blackhawks 24 game streak and the amount of positive press both the team and the league got. Would they have gotten the same amount of buzz if the regular season had begun in early October instead of early January?

In October, you have the on-going NFL regular season, the entire MLB post-season which is soon followed by the start of the NBA regular season. This year’s NHL start happened in the midst of college basketball, a two month old NBA season and weekend NFL playoff games. Still, that seems like a lot less clutter then in October.

What if it was like this each year? You start the NHL season on New Year’s Day with the Winter Classic. The playoffs begin in mid-June, just after the conclusion of the NBA Finals.

By summer, baseball is on the verge of becoming boring to many people. Also, the week of the MLB All-Star Game, which is typically deemed the most boring sports week of the year, is now occupied by the added excitement of post-season hockey (except on that Tuesday)!

If this worked as well as I suggest, television ratings increase, league attendance increases and the NHL becomes healthier. Again, all this assuming that people are willing to watch hockey when its 95 degrees outside. I would like to think that if the hockey is that good, then the people will watch.

Does any of this seem plausible or am I just absolutely crazy and should never blog about hockey again?

Odds & Ends

– Speaking of hockey, the entire NHL post-season is covered television wise thanks to the NBC Sports Group. The first round of the NHL playoffs will air on the NBC Sports Network, CNBC and the NHL Network.

The caveat… NBC apparently has decided to do this on the cheap. Awful Announcing recaps how last night’s Sharks and Canucks game on NBCSN (NBC Sports Network) was not a true national broadcast. Instead, NBCSN aired the local CSN Bay Area broadcast, meaning the national audience got to hear the Sharks’ home team announcers.

At this very moment, I have CNBC on which is televising the Senators and Canadiens game courtesy of CBC (a television network out of Canada).

NBC and parent company Comcast are far from poor. There is no excuse for NBC to not have put 100% effort into their post-season games, even if it only is the first round. This is rather disappointing on the part of NBC.

– The local SportsCenter anchors on WMVP-AM/ESPN 1000 in Chicago are now opening their updates by saying “Live from the ESPN Chicago newsroom,” before introducing themselves. The new scripted opening sounds awkward and is unnecessary. It doesn’t make the update or the station seem anymore more impressive. While the opening script won’t do anything to further damage the station, it just is one more odd decision coming from ESPN 1000 management.

– While on the topic of sports update openings, WSCR-AM/670 The Score has been beginning their Scoreboard Updates with the anchor saying “From the Chicago Wolves update studio,” before introducing his or herself, followed by a brief snippet about Wolves tickets being affordable. The Wolves have been sponsoring those openings for a long time now — well over a year.

I’ve always wondered how this is working for them. Usually once the sponsored reading is over, there’s no further mention of the Wolves in the update — never a score or injury news. I suppose if they continue to pay for this sponsorship, they must be getting something out of it. If you would have asked me a year ago though, I would have predicted “waste of money.”

Trust and Twitter: Aboslutely incumbent on user’s own responsibility

TwitterLast night on the message board (the original board), a user posted the question about Twitter and whether it is controlling radio. The poster was also frazzled by the amount of re-tweets and the concept of getting “likes” — or in the case of Twitter, “follows.”  I was pleased with my response, so I thought I’d also post it here. You can also view the original thread here.

My response to the question of whether Twitter

Twitter is the absolute best method for delivering news and information. The user has to work harder and be smarter to filter through what he/she thinks is nonsense.

When my wife texted me several months back telling me her school was on lockdown, there was nothing on the local town’s news website to indicate why. When I went on Twitter and searched the name of the town, I found after 20 seconds there was a bank robbery in that same subdivision. Several people nearby were tweeting about it before the news could get their hands on it.

There was a lot of nonsense going around on Twitter and sites like Reddit in the days after the Boston Marathon bombings. You know who else screwed up just days after? John King and CNN. Fox News and the Associated Press followed. The New York Post made a callous mistake that you would have thought was done by a citizen journalist.

You can get duplicitous information via a HAM radio.

So to answer your question, Twitter isn’t just controlling the radio, it is a valuable component of today’s media environment.

The original poster submitted a follow-up question, asking how to be sure you can trust what you’re reading. This poster is worried about lazy journalism and the rush to be first in breaking a story.

My follow-up response:

Speaking in terms of news via Twitter, you follow who you are willing to trust.

Do you trust anyone specific on the radio or television? You can chose to only follow those people on Twitter. If you happen, for example, to highly trust Pete Williams of NBC News, you can chose to follow him, and trust that if he re-tweets anything, it will only be because he has confidence or knows that the content is somehow useful.

You can enjoy a Garry Meier on the radio, for example, but find his Twitter useless because the staffer who runs his account is likely to tweet silly, stupid news things that I am not interested in (some of those things, I find funny when Meier is talking about them — but not via his Twitter).

That’s at least how I see it. On my personal Twitter, I recently found there was too much junk so I started un-following a bunch of people. This probably sounds silly, especially to someone who is new to social networking — but I trimmed a lot of the fat, and it greatly enhanced the experience.

I’ve been on Twitter for three of four years now, and probably only began to appreciate it when following baseball’s hot stove news and rumors. Since starting a separate Twitter specifically for this blog and by primarily following only individuals or outlets involved with media, my appreciation for it is even higher (and I’ve only been using that account for one week).

Starting my own media blog (the audacity!)

Clark Griswold

On one particular morning, sometime in the late 1990s, I was listening to B96 while getting ready for school. At some point, I heard a pre-recorded announcement that mentioned the station’s call letters, WBBM-FM Chicago. It was the first time I had ever noticed such a thing — what those in the radio industry refer to as the legal ID. I was immediately intrigued that B96 shared the same call letters as the all-news station over on the AM dial. Imagine my state of shock when I later found that Channel 2 also shared the  same call letters!

Not exactly a fascination a junior high kid is  supposed to think about, especially when getting ready for school.

While some people have a passive interest towards a particular segment of broadcasting or journalism related issues, it is not typical for people to be overly passionate about media.

I happen to be one of the few people. I absolutely love it.

For the few individuals in my life that have any remote interest in a media related topic or issue (i.e. a favorite radio station or why their newspaper keeps getting smaller and smaller), I know I have a limit as to how much I can discuss before that person tunes me out (it’s happened).

I’ve been posting for years as Blowtorch at the Chicagoland Radio and Media Message Board. The CRM board has given me an outlet that I otherwise would not have had. And yet, even with that forum, there has always been something missing. I’ve always wanted a little more. After contemplating on and off for a couple of years, I’ve decided to start my own media blog.

I realize that the very idea of starting my own blog is by default, narcissistic. What makes my blog so special when there are far more qualified individuals out there already discussing media for a living? I can only hope that a lifetime interest of mine will mean I can occasionally write something that may be of interest to someone out there. Again, I hope.

With that in consideration, my feeling about starting a blog is more in line with Clark Griswold, from “Christmas Vacation,” as he prepares to deck his house with a lump sump of Christmas lights. Griswold beams with excitement saying “I’ve always wanted to do this!”

I would like to think this can be a fun, simple hobby. I’m excited to have my own platform where I can “geek out” when the moment strikes.

Stay tuned.