A Busy Day At The TV Factory

I walked in the newsroom this afternoon and ran into Joe Furey. I was in early, but he was in late… very, very late. Joe has a dual role at FoxCT and the CBS Radio station in the Hartford area. He was holding down the radio fort.

It was obvious something was brewing. There wasn’t enough to mention tornadoes Thursday night, but as I got ready for work and scanned the radar I knew we were going to get soaked if not worse. A Tornado Warning on Long Island was an attention getter!

I led the 4:00 PM News on FoxCT with a watch already posted for our six eastern counties. While live in my normal weather slot a Tornado Warning was hoisted in Connecticut.

When there’s a Tornado Warning in effect that’s what we cover! Everything else is blown out. It’s our policy. I didn’t even check with the producer (I should have since she runs the show) before explaining on the air we were going to stay with weather.

At this point things come at you quickly. Radar is close to real time. Storm reports are always delayed. My job was to stay in front of the weather.

If I wait until I see a cell over a town it’s too late!

Bridgeport had 1.6″ of rain in an hour. New Haven had over 2″. A wind gust near 60 mph was reported in Madison.

Being able to place towns from memory while sight reading a map is helpful here!

What began as a well planned show turned free form. If Joe walked out of the radio booth it meant he had info for me. He was on-the-air ASAP. No waiting. Just do it.

I began to ask the director and producer for external cameras. To their credit they totally understood. You’ve got to have the team pulling together, even if we’re not always sure where together leads.

Because of Joe’s diligence we were on-the-air showing the potential tornado in Glastonbury as the warning came up! He saw it in the radio booth and came out.

We switched to the Doppler function of the radar–unusual to see most days. This was totally Joe’s doing and I’m glad I trusted my instinct to let him lead the way. It was powerful TV for people in the storm and everyone else. His experience was showing.

As the point guy for our 2’ish hours of live coverage I hope a lot of people watched. In the end it was a day to reinforce what we have… how we do what we do… our style and sensibility in coverage. We tried to make friends.

I hope you watched.

The Zucchini Bread Payoff

For the past few weeks after my Thursday garden segment I’ve brought veggies to the newsroom. If you want some, take some! Brent Hardin took a watermelon shaped zucchini home.

I’ve got a garden here at FoxCT. It’s flourishing in spite of my parental guidance!

For the past few weeks after my Thursday garden segment I’ve brought veggies to the newsroom. If you want some, take some! Brent Hardin took a watermelon shaped zucchini home.

Today that zucchini returned in the form of amazing zucchini bread. It was baked by Brent’s wife, Leann. She told me the recipe came from the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League Cookbook… not available at the Fox house.

Zucchini bread is to vegetable healthfulness as carrot cake is to good eyesight. Man it was good!

Reunited With Al (with video)

Neither Al nor I are young and pretty. In that way FoxCT is taking a risk. Young and pretty seems to rule hiring nowadays. Whatever Al and I have transcends age. Well, at least I hope it does.

I was going to write about my car today. As I drove past Wethersfield Cove in I-91 the odometer rolled over to 100,000 miles. Nah–too inconsequential.

The big story in my news was on our news. I was reunited with Al Terzi after 18 years.

Like Cher or Meatloaf all I really need to use is a one word name: I worked with Al today. Say “Al” in Connecticut and everyone knows who you’re talking about.

Al and I worked together in New Haven from my first day in 1984 until he left for Channel 3 ten years later.

From a selfish standpoint Al was a great on-air partner. He always listened. He always responded. He always laughed at my jokes, even when they were only marginally funny (or not funny at all). He sold me to viewers.

Al and I worked with a few partners who didn’t understand how to take one for the team. Again, from my selfish standpoint, that sucked! I suspect some co-anchors had no idea why I was put on Earth.

Much of whatever fame I have in Connecticut I owe to Al Terzi!

Neither Al nor I are young and pretty. In that way FoxCT is taking a risk. Young and pretty seems to rule hiring nowadays. Whatever Al and I have transcends age. Well, at least I hope it does.

As I watched him anchor this afternoon it was easy to see there’s nothing off his fastball. He’s still got that beautiful read and avuncular authority. Viewers trust him for good reason.

This is a very cool day. I am very happy.

A Little Inside Baseball On Today’s Storm Coverage

There’s little comparison shopping during a storm like today’s. You just have to hope the folks watching were satisfied and you made some friends who’ll remember you next time they need this kind of info. That’s all you can do. Then you pray audience follows performance.

Were we on for two and a half hours today? I think so. This kind of wall-to-tall coverage sneaks up on you.

The forecast was pretty straight forward. I write a little columnette in the Hartford Courant. Here’s what was written yesterday evening and hit the doorstep this morning:

The Storm Prediction Center has an odd way of giving us a heads up on severe weather. As of late Tuesday evening we are under a “slight risk” of severe weather for Wednesday. When SPC says “slight risk” you can read it as “significant risk.” I do and I probably follow their work a little closer than you. Strong, possibly severe, storms this afternoon will usher in cooler, drier air for Thursday.

So, this weather was no surprise to any of us (even at the other stations). Dan Amarante says he talked about it on-the-air over the weekend. That’s a pretty decent lead time.

Once you know about the weather you’re supposed to get ahead of it. Joe Furey stayed late. I came in early. Dan just came in (on his day off).

Rachel, off to visit her grandmother out west, will hopefully board her flight only five hours late! Bradley is the last place she wanted to be. I can relate.

The Severe Thunderstorm Watch was issued at 1220 PM. It followed a Mesoscale Discussion this morning which gave a 95% chance of the watch being issued! Like I said, conditions were straight forward.

THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER HAS ISSUED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH FOR PORTIONS OF

CONNECTICUT
MASSACHUSETTS
NORTHEAST NEW JERSEY
SOUTHEAST NEW YORK
RHODE ISLAND
COASTAL WATERS

EFFECTIVE THIS WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON AND EVENING FROM 1220 PM UNTIL
900 PM EDT.

HAIL TO 1.5 INCHES IN DIAMETER…THUNDERSTORM WIND GUSTS TO 70
MPH…AND DANGEROUS LIGHTNING ARE POSSIBLE IN THESE AREAS.

We went on live around 2:00 PM covering the beginning of the scheduled program. Joe Furey did handled that one and in two minutes set the stage.

At 2:30 PM I went live and then a funny thing happened… we didn’t go off! The storms were vicious. There were reports of large hail and wind damage. The cells were living up to expectations.

When the light on the camera came on I had no idea how long I’d be on. I never expected it to last until 5:00 PM.

Dan ‘drove’ the graphics equipment. Joe kept giving me on-site information coming into the newsroom.

It’s possible to do this kind of coverage by yourself, but its best when the talker concentrates on what he’s saying and the others feed him info. I prefer to watch the monitor and have the graphics lead me. That’s what Dan and Joe did.

There are a lot of standard things to say: how to stay protected, what the colors on the radar mean, what’s expected. It’s also important to have an understanding of the state’s geography. Mentioning West Farms Mall is probably more meaningful than mentioning any of the three towns it straddles.

Dana and Sara, two producers, were in the control room. Along with them were a director, camera operator and audio engineer. They are used to following a set rundown. Not today. Everything was seat of the pants.

Alison and Brent anchored on-set. They did all the interviews, but on a day like today they let the weather folks do the heavy lifting.

It really is a team effort and its made better when the team has a singular goal.

There’s little viewer comparison shopping during a storm like today’s. You just have to hope the folks watching were satisfied and you made some friends who’ll remember you next time they need this kind of info. That’s all you can do. Then you pray audience follows performance.

Postscript: My wife found it funny my tissues ended up on the desk with me. For 2.5 hours my mind was off my cold.

How I Get Severe Weather Alerts

We have a cool feature at FoxCT Intercontinental Headquarters on Broad Street. They haven’t asked me to write about it, but it’s worth knowing so here goes.

Weather watches and warnings are issued by the Weather Service. They help put everyone on the same page

There are lots of ways to get them. I get mine from FoxCT as text messages to my cell. I’ve been using our service for nearly a year.

You choose which county or counties you want. That limits messages somewhat.

We have a cool feature at FoxCT Intercontinental Headquarters on Broad Street. They haven’t asked me to write about it, but it’s worth knowing so here goes.

Weather watches and warnings are issued by the Weather Service. They help put everyone on the same page

There are lots of ways to get them. I get mine from FoxCT as text messages to my cell. I’ve been using our service for nearly a year.

You choose which county or counties you want. That limits messages somewhat. Messages for you are received nearly instantly as watches and warnings are issued.

This is not for everyone. You get texts at any hour day or night.

If you still think it’s for you FoxCT offers this service at no charge, no strings attached. We’d like you to watch our fine TV station, but I openly offer this to our competitors who might be in need. We won’t know/care it’s you.

You have to scroll around halfway down the page until you see: “Sign Up For Severe Weather Text Alerts Here.”

Gardening Season Begins!

I’m heading downstairs in a few minutes. It’s time to plant my garden. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon at work!

I used to have a garden at my old station. Over time it became more-and-more difficult to get a crew to shoot it. I gave up over a decade ago.

I’m heading downstairs in a few minutes. It’s time to plant my garden. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon at work!

I used to have a garden at my old station. Over time it became more-and-more difficult to get a crew to shoot it. I gave up over a decade ago.

New place, new attitude. Last summer I made the suggestion to my boss who loved the idea. Before you could say “blossom end rot” a 5′ x 14′ plot had been cleared and tilled and horse manure added to the soil.

Note to future gardeners: Plant your garden at work and make sure there’s an amazing building crew. Without those guys I’d be lost!

Today the garden begins for season two.

I drove in with plants from a local nursery. During our 4:00 PM News I’ll put them in the ground.

Though there will be lots of different veggies (and flowers) little matters to me but the tomatoes. If my tomatoes grow strong and healthy the garden will be a success.

Here’s the segment open created by Jade Yoon and Chris Moran.