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...