11 Alive – Not So Much

Good morning, y’all. As has been reported, I watch a lot of TV, a lot of TV. Up here in the hills a lot of our favorite choices are determined by how strong the signal is. The conversion to a digital signal a few years back kind of caught me unawares, but like a resilient bacteria, I have adapted.

After not being able to watch my 21 inch RCA over in Number Two for about a week, I broke down and got an HD antenna and converter box. It was an easy choice, the two together cost less than a month of cable. If need be, I can always go over to the rec room to watch ball games on the big screen. I just use regular TV to get the local news and network shows. A good news show is real important to me.

Over the years the NBC news has been our favorite, going back to Grandpa Lite and his obsession with The Huntley-Brinkley Report. Grandpa Lite use to delight in imitating both reporters, passing the story off to himself. Our NBC affiliate is out of Atlanta, channel 11, or 11 Alive as they like to bill themselves. I’ve stuck with them through the transition of one of my favorite ever anchors, Brian Williams, to Lester Holt, who in my humble opinion is adequate.

I know there’s real smart people out there who study demographics and know exactly how many people watch 11 Alive to lead in to the NBC Nightly News just because we’re too lazy to get up and turn the channel. I’m one of them, but, I’m about to change.

To me the worst thing that can happen with a news agency is to begin thinking they’re more important than what they’re reporting on. 11 Alive commits this travesty every night. First off the show is segmented into 3 minutes of weather, 3 minutes of news, 8 minutes of weather, 3 minutes of sports and 3 minutes of soapbox. Each segment is then broken up with 2 minutes of commercials.

Now the first 3 minutes of weather are the least odious portion of the show, followed by the news section which is too short in my opinion. The news section is generally local fluff, local shooting, and any possible connection to Georgia in the national news. For a news agency whose byline is “holding the powerful accountable”, they do precious little of it. I reckon there’s not any graft or corruption in Georgia, at least not that 11 Alive can see.

Next we move to the most odious portion, the 2nd coming of the weather. Channel 11 assigns each day a rating, which they call the “Wizometer”.  Honestly, the whizz o meter; are you rating the day or measuring my bladder output? The Wizometer sports a rating that suspiciously tops out at 11, like Spinal Tap’s amplifiers. It’s an “almost” cute idea, I’m even willing to overlook the vague Spinal Tap similarity. Where I draw the line is whatever fuzzy math is being used to assign the day’s value.

If clear skies and 72 degrees are an 11, which I will agree with, how does 87 degrees become a 10? Conversely, would 15 degrees off of optimum make 55 degrees a 10 as well? Not just no, but heck no. A cloudless 90 degree day looks like a 10 when you’re sitting at your desk in the air conditioned office looking out the window. Go out and walk in it and see how close to perfect it is.

Next, let’s talk storm coverage. Someone got a new toy that tells the weather caster how many lightning strikes are in a storm. They will drone on and on about the lightning strikes while barely mentioning if I’m going to get 3 inches of rain or a 1/3 an inch. Jiminy Crickets, there’s a reason that “struck by lightning” is a phrase used to describe a very rare occurrence. Spend ten minutes telling me if I’m going to get flooded out, not struck by lightning.

Hot on the tail of the perfect day analysis, comes the self proclaimed “most accurate forecasts” feature.  The same fuzzy mathematicians that brought us the “perfect 11” day, have come up with a statistical analysis with an over under feature that allows for near perfect predictions. Weather drone says tomorrow will be 90 degrees, then they add in the over under of 4 degrees and a 94 degree day becomes an accurate forecast. Coming up with crap like this so you can pat yourself on the back the next day undercuts all of your credibility.

Five minutes of sports is not enough and unlike the real news, you can’t count on the network to fill in the gap and cover your inadequacy. Not all of us get ESPN, so let’s expand sports to cover the 2nd coming of the weather. If I start suffering from weather information withdrawal, I’ll look out the window. While I’m on the topic of sports, do not EVER, I mean EVER interrupt my football game with radar screens showing the possibility of “rotating clouds” in Alabama that may or may not form into a tornado, “if conditions continue”. If you’ve got a tornado on the ground, flash it in the chyron and I’ll take the appropriate action.

Finally, we come to the what 11 Alive calls the”Final Word”, segment of the broadcast. Oh my God, if it just were. In this last segment before the hand off to the network, the anchor takes some news item and personalizes and moralizes the story. Most recently it was the shooting of a TV reporter while covering one of the protests. I guess the 11 Alive anchor just figured out we’re all sitting ducks waiting for the next nut to take target practice. As the husband of a woman who now goes to the Walmart and first checks the parking lot for suspicious cars or characters before parking, I’d like to tell the anchor, “I’m glad you finally got the news”.

Channel 11 clean up your act or I’m gone. That’s my Final Word.