Be Careful Ad Libbing

I work on TV and when I’m on the air, everything I say is an ad lib. Yes, the anchors and sports reporters read most of their copy, but for some reason the weather person has always been afforded this privilege.

Ad libbing can sometimes cause problems. I often speak with ‘salty’ language off the air and have to be careful I remember when I’m on.

My biggest ad lib problems have come when I’ve said something innocent and it turned out to have a second meaning. It is interesting, from my vantage point, to see the anchors biting their tongues, trying to keep from busting out laughing.

As it turns out, my ad lib problems put me in the same boat as Bill Clinton. Here’s an email I got this afternoon from a friend.

Yesterday on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, which I am sure you never watch, he had an “exclusive” interview with former President Clinton, who talked about the Pope, his relationship with his new best friend, former President Bush and his health. When asked about this kind gesture offering former President Bush the only bed on the government jet when they were on the recent tour of Tsunami-affected countries, Clinton shrugged it off and said, “I can sleep anywhere.” OUCH!

Mr. Clinton, I feel your pain.

2 thoughts on “Be Careful Ad Libbing”

  1. Geoff-

    DON’T be too careful or self-conscious about your ad-libs.

    I’ve been watching you since you ad-libbed Hurricane Gloria in 1985. (I would love to see a 20th anniversary 1/2 hour special on that- WTNH was AWESOME that September day. I thought that guy at the National Hurricane Center was going to keel over from exhaustion.) Your ability to think on your feet carried that day and made it less frightening for a lot of people.

    Your current colleagues are great- and Dr. Mel is a legend, too. (And a personal inspiration for so many.) But you are like the Sid Caeser of CT weather, with the meterological and broadcasting skills to boot.

    I always liked watching what would happen when technology failed you- because we knew we would get our forecast- you would just make it more entertaining and fun. You don’t panic- we’ve all seen other weather guys around the country (and locally) blow it or get angry in those situations. (I once saw half of a forecast given without a microphone- you could barely hear the guy except through some other open mike on the floor.) You are at your best when these things happen.

    One memory that stuck with me was when you tried to explain why the Danbury airport temperature reading was anomolous. With your hands and some words you tried to explain the topography but time started to run short. You just basically said, “It’s in a [frantic hand motions] ditch, well not a ditch, but, in a sort of valley and… ahh… if you’re from Danbury you know what I’m talking about. Never mind.” You are human, funny, smart- and that’s why so many people in CT think of you as part of their own families.

    If you say something with a double-entendre, nobody believes that you did it on purpose anyway. That’s why we all think it’s funny. We know you didn’t sit around for 3 days thinking about saying it.

    I had the privilege of meeting Tiny Markle not long before he died- he was a great CT broadcaster and talkshow host. I was interested in radio at the time- he said, “Kid, be yourself. For better or for worse, if you’re not yourself, you won’t make it in broadcasting.”

    I think that’s good advice for any career- and it seems to have worked very well for you.

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