Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Some Unhappy Viewers

As you are well aware, yesterday's severe weather prediction was true to form. The tornado warnings started around 4:45pm for our viewing area and continued through the evening. The timing of the severe weather was good and bad: good in that the worst of the weather came in before the overnight hours and most people were awake and prepared---bad in that the severe weather came in during prime time television shows. We received over 200 emails from people who were grateful for the coverage, but as you can imagine, we also received some negative emails, too. I am still disappointed in the number of people who think just because the bad weather is not over their house, then it isn't important. Or, they think I'm so vain that I enjoy being the tv for hours at a time and think others want to see me 24/7 (farthest thing from the truth). These viewers were wanting to see their favorite NBC shows like "Deal or No Deal" and "Medium". Many don't understand that WLBT's management has made severe weather coverage a priority. When it comes to tornado warnings, WLBT's policy dictates when we go on the air to cover programming and when we get off the air. I don't make those decisions...I'm just the messenger. However, I take this job seriously and because I've been affected by an F4 tornado and lost a former WLBT co-worker in the 2001 tornado that ravaged my neighborhood, I guess you could say my perspective is alittle different. Here are some of the emails I received last night:
Please, please get off the air. Everyone knows the weather is bad and we can catch you online if we have to. We have radios but this is ridiculous at how you just take over the airways at the slightest hint of bad weather. Signed, Peggy

While I appreciate your continued broadcast of the severe weather and have taken the necessary precautions, you are the only local channel that has preempted the regular lineup. We are watching other broadcasts because they are only breaking in every 30 minutes or if there is a major change in the weather. We stopped watching CBS because Tony did the same thing you are doing. Hoping for normal TV on NBC, Joe Surkin

Barbie, I appreciate your dedication, and the effort you bring to the WLBT listeners, however, you can not possibly know how many people I (the college educated 40-60's group) run into who get very angry when YOU get on the air, thinking we want or need to know about the "light show" taking place in downtown Jackson, and all the other worthless information, stretching what should take 3-5 minutes, into 30-40 minutes to give. If you were really in touch with your audience, you would know that we work very hard during the day/night, and when we get home, many of us turn on the TV for relaxation.......not to hear you give us the same information over and over, and over again, essentially consuming the entire time we wanted to devote to our down time, watching our favorite television show. The WLBT audience, contrary to what you might believe, does not rush home, to listen to YOU. Now, you can put whatever spin you want on this.....or attach whatever emotions you think will explain or legitimize your actions, but if you care, many in the WLBT viewing area, want you to hurry-up, give the necessary information, then get off. The WLBT audience is made-up of educated folks who only need to look outside their windows to see that the weather is bad, and only need to see the weather, on television, in a matter of a few minutes- if the bad weather is coming our way........we (many, who apparently are far wiser than you-since you can't recognize this) did not turn on the television to watch the "Barbie Hour." Again, spin this however you want, but the audience isn't listening, and you are only making us more ANGRY by trying to insult our intelligence with your ridiculous excuses about how others, if not me, want to watch your OSCAR Performance. Signed, Adonis Jackson

Apparently you don't get it. If a tornado had been booming down on my house last night, and I had sat in front of my television listening to you for an hour, I would be dead this morning. The weather alert I want from you should only take 2 minutes, otherwise you are there for "show" effect. Is that really the reason you spend an hour to give me the information which would only take 2 minutes to give? Well, that's what it looks like to the public! If you don't believe this, you have only yourself to blame when the viewers go elsewhere to get their weather. Signed, Anoymous

Please get back to the regular programming. You people are so weather-phobic, it's pitiful!
I would really like to see Medium. Signed, Anonymous

Please keep it short. You can report about amount of rainfall etc... in your regular news hour. Please don't take up the ENTIRE evening TV program. You are the only broadcast that keeps going on and on and on. Signed, Linda Lau

We got it, that's enough, please get off the air. There is such a thing called The Weather Channel. Please you dont have to keep saying the same thing over and over. Also, you listening to the weather radio on the air is ridiculous. Signed, Randy McNamee

I have discovered where the incompetent meteorologists go when they cannot work anywhere else. Apparently, they are employed at your station under your careful supervision. Tonights display of total uneducated simplicity only shows that you are incapable of truly giving a weather report but rather enjoy feeling that your useless conversation is somehow going to save lives. Signed, Terry Magnon

Sorry, but can we please watch Medium? I understand people need to be informed but isn't a scrolling banner with an interruption from NOAA once and a while good enough? It sure use to be. You guys now make bad storms into a show of it's own. Sorry, but jeez... Signed, Lisa Byrd

It is totally unnecessary to spend hours upon hours on the air giving the weather, even if the weather is bad. You are not doing a public service, if anything, you are heightening fear in an attempt to increase ratings. Breaking in from time to time and giving updates at the bottom of the screen is adequate in most situations, even tonight. The audience is well aware that your station has the finest, most up to date equipment available along with the most knowledgeable, experienced meteorologists, but enough is enough. Do you really have to read emails on the air? Television stations exist based on viewers and advertising. Well, I watched other stations tonight! Signed, Gwen Allen

Barbie, would you please stop giving us the wall to wall coverage every time it rains and a tornado could "possibly" occur? We dont need 3-4 hours of nonstop repeating of warnings and watches when a simple 1/10 size screen graphic or scrolling could do th job. We can clearly see and hear whats going on outside our window AND we have our weather radio, so WHY the nonstop repeating of info that you are clearly getting from your weather radio in the first place?? Pathetic! And we couldn't care less about your awards, pregnancy, "award winning weather team" or WLBT's "latest best in the world super duper doppler" equipment. We want to watch our shows and not your constant babbling on and on thats accomplishing nothing. Again, we can see and hear what the weathers doing with our own eyes and ears. Just stick to your daily 2 minute weather skit. Signed, Susan Conners

I hated Channel 3 last night! Talk about overdoing something, geez. From the time I got home at 4:45 until 7:30, then back again around 8:15, hardly anything but yakking about weather. Come on! Whatever happened to just putting the state map in the corner with the counties highlighted and the scroll across the bottom, then just breaking in occasionally? Then interrupting Deal or No Deal - one of the few NBC shows worth watching - and Barbie later flippantly saying oh you know, someone will win a million some day - well, I would like to know how much the guy from Tennessee won who we were watching after you got through eating! Barbie, you said the viewers meant so much you had to keep them posted, then in the next line Eric said something about eating, I'm glad you took a little while off to eat. And reading the e-mails, who gives a flip about them - probably the ones who wrote just wanted to hear their names on the air. I called the WAPT phone number for messages (355-1616) and spouted off to them, and wished I knew one at WLBT to call too. I'm sure you lost a lot of money in advertising. Thank heavens for Fox News. Signed, Carol Wiley
Do you ever have people complain about how you do your job? Do you have policies you have to adhere to? Then you know exactly why these kind of emails can disturb you. I would love to work a career where EVERYONE was satisfied with the outcome. But in this business, it just doesn't happen.

And thanks to my dear friend Maggie Wade who brought me back a sandwich last night for dinner. Contrary to what the above emailer, Carol, thought she heard, we did not have a dinner break because the National Weather Service kept issuing tornado warnings. When I got home this morning at 1am, I was able to sit down and eat my sandwich that Maggie brought me at 7:30pm last night.

Some days I think labor will be easier than trying to explain our television station's policy and why WLBT has chosen to go about severe weather coverage more intensely. This is one of those days when I'm going to have to pray myself back into work...


Jennye Lynne said...

Barbie we watched you all night last night and were very thankful for your information and warnings. I just wanted to say thanks for all you do. The saftey of my family is way more important than what is on TV. Thanks again-
The Mardis Family

kverneuille said...

I just wanted to thank you and Eric for all of your dedication last night. While it is important to have down time, my personal safety is more important. Many people are also not so vain as to think that we are the only person in the world where that watches for weather information. People who only think of themselves and their own pleasures, need a reality check on life. It is only a television show, get over yourselves.
What you do is very important Please know that there are people in your viwing area that do apprieciate all of your efforts and dedication to our safety and well being.
Kim Verneuille

John said...

Thank you Barbie and the rest of the WLBT staff for what you are attempting to do. The arrogance of that one person attempting to speak for the rest of the viewing audience and basicly attempting to insult the ones who do like it. The educated folks do not desire that and only the uneducated do. That is how I read it. I highly resent that, because I view all of the other stuff on the TV as almost totally useless,a waste of my money, and a waste of my time.
All of you keep up the good work and God bless you all.

Kathy said...

I kept my t.v. on WLBT all day yesterday until 10:30 last night. All of the people who have left negative e-mails will be sorry one day because they may be in a situation one day where bad weather comes to their area without any warning. I do not understand why some people think that t.v. programs are more important than trying to save lives. Keep up the good work at WLBT because without you and your other co-workers we would be in trouble a lot of times!

Sara said...

I know you probably feel like you are danged if you do and danged if you don't at this point. You just remember that you were doing your job. Like you said, management makes the decision whether to stay on the air.

Speaking of your sandwich for dinner, I was thinking last night about how hungry and tired all of you must have been...as well as the National Weather Service, EOC and ER folks and that I should have done something like ordered pizzas or some other warm meal and had it delivered to the studio. Of course, I thought about this at 9:30 last night (a little too late). We've been talking about random acts of kindness at church and little ways that we can be of service to others. For example, several months ago, we were challenged to pay for the person's meal behind us in a fast food line. When my husband rolled up to the line at McDonald's one Sunday afternoon and told the cashier he wanted to pay for the family behind him...not only was she shocked, but the look on the family's face was priceless.

People just don't expect things like that anymore, so it's so refreshing to see their amazement. With all of that said, on a severe weather night...how many people are generally working at the WLBT studio?

shelia said...

Barbie i am so sorry for the lack of appreciation for you and WLBT news team. Yes it only takes once to experience the wrath of a tornado. Entertainment is ver much down the line when it comes to the lives of people we know and don't know. I live in Jefferson County and I have many loved ones thru out the state. This information is very precious to me regardless of the time spent taken away from TV entertainment. Keep of the good work. Ya'll are truly blessed for your concern and care for the citizens of Mississippi.

The Mommy Years said...

If it weren't for people's addiction to "Deal or No Deal" your life would be a piece of cake huh?! (joke!)

Oh good grief. I watched you for about 30 minutes & heard you & Eric both apologize for interrupting the shows. You apologized so many times that even my husband remarked that you must have already been getting emails complaining!!

I'm sorry these people think that television is more important than tornado warnings ... but that's why cable has 100+ other channels to watch ;) No offense, but I got a little bored when Rankin county wasn't in danger & I started flipping channels between you & "The Tudors". Sorry!

Dawn Lampkin said...

Maybe some viewers should try this for "down time" ~spend time with your family, read a book, or exercise insted of watching t.v. Then you wouldn't be so upset when your favorite show gets interrupted. Thanks Barbie for your weather coverage- if a tornado is ever headed toward my house- I'd rather be warned than miss Deal or No Deal! I'm sure Howie Mandell would agree :)

Katrice said...

Barbie, you need to find the delete button on your computer and just start using it!!! Those emails that are so negative and hurtful do not need the time day! Bless your heart....I too was one of the ones thinking...you have got to be hungry and miserable BUT you looked great. It doesn't even phase you, while I on the other hand was pregnant spent ALOT of time on the couch at the end of the day!ha!

Julia said...

I stuck with you the whole time. Great job. I know you must have been exhausted when you finally got home. We all know who the source of negativism and bad attitudes is. Always remember... Trust in the LORD with all your heart. You WILL be rewarded.

Susan said...

Thanks for keeping us informed Monday night. We had you on in the kitchen and the living room- Barbie in stereo! We are in Lawrence County and do appreciate the information!!

Claire said...

Barbie, I was thankful that y'all did give the weather such importance. Even though I wasn't watching WLBT all night, I knew that if I needed to know something about the weather, you would be there to tell me. After my parents went through the tornado at Union University, I'm a little more conscious of the weather. Thanks for your hard work!


BarbC said...

Barbie -- thanks for all you do... no television show is that important... if it is, then those folks need some help getting their priorities in line. There are times the weather info doesn't apply to my area, but I am fully aware that I am not center of the universe, not even the center of WLBT's coverage! LOL! I fully understand that you have a large viewing area to take care of!

Please, please start deleting emails that are rude and ugly. What happened to "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all?"

Barbara Campbell

The Jasper Family said...

It is just beyond sad to me that anyone would think that a mother (expectant, no less) would rather stand on her feet giving information over and over than being home with her precious husband and children. I wonder if any of those nasty people thought of your family sitting at home waiting for you while you selflessly served theirs. What am I thinking??? They were only worried about someone they don't even know winning at Deal or No Deal. Keep doing what the Lord has called you to do. You are fabulous just the way you are!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your hard work Monday evening and don't allow the negative comments to bring you down. You are about to experience something wonderful---bringing another life into the world. Focus on that.

Also, why don't you drop by Brown Bag Bible Buddy Thursday at the Clarion Hotel at noon? We would love to have you. Here is the website:


Keep up the good work and keep smiling that beautiful smile you have.

Paulette Gunn

CJHumphrey said...


I watched you the entire night and I am very thankful that you & your team stayed on-air to let us know exactly where the weather was going.

Those people that sent the nasty e-mails were very inconsiderate to want to watch a TV show over the weather. I was proud that you stayed on-air all night that showed that your true mission in life is to save lives. The viewers in Mississippi should feel blessed to have a station like WLBT that will allow you and your weather team to stay on like you did....I sure do!

Thanks for your all you do and your committment to saving lives, besides that is more important any and every day than some silly TV show!!!

Thanks again,
Florence, MS

The Hall's said...

I want to thank you for all of your hard work. My family listens to WLBT when weather is bad because we feel your station is the best on keeping us up to date. My family is very important to me and again thank you for all of your hard work.
The Hall Family