DFW TV Station Delays Tornado Warning

Jun 1, 2008
490
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Chattanooga, TN
www.linkedin.com
We're sorry, but...

Classic we're sorry not sorry. Pretty sure upper management made the wrong decision, not people on-duty. Lots of CYA coming. Lots of muzzled employees already. TV Mets need some sort of labor union to protect themselves. I'm not TV or Union, but the muzzling of Mets needs to end.
 

Jeff Duda

Resident meteorological expert
Staff member
Oct 7, 2008
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Baaaaahhhh! If they *HAD* broken in right after the warning was issued the station would have been flooded with calls, angry tweets and facebook posts, and probably some death threats from some crazy, myopic Cowboys fans about having coverage of their precious little game interrupted. I'm sure some people still called in to complain even when they actually did break into coverage. You just can't win in most DMAs, and its worse when there is some big TV event going on at the time.

Everything but the last part of the final sentence in the penultimate paragraph seems very appropriate and shows accountability.
 
Jan 31, 2017
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Joplin, MO & Iowa City, IA
If you like Facebook flame wars, head over to the KXAS FB page (NBC DFW). The apology thread is about 20 hours back. It has going on 3,000 comments. Judging by the first couple of hundred, about 55-60% support the station's decision *not* to break into the game. "The station was already running crawls and letting people know during commercials." "Take responsibility for your own safety." "There are plenty of other ways to get weather info."

The people criticizing the station said, "How were we to know to look for weather info if the station didn't tell us?" "Not everyone has smartphones that can get info." "The station should have doing its public-service job."

Maybe I'm wrong, but there seems to be a trend *away* from wall-to-wall coverage, even when tornadoes are confirmed within the station's coverage area.
 

rdale

EF5
Mar 1, 2004
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There's no trend I've heard of or seen. This was a unique situation with a rabid football fan base and a TV station going for the high rating$ it offered...
 
Oct 10, 2004
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Madison, WI
IMO there's no excuse. I could see it if this was a warning for weak radar-indicated rotation/likely low-impact/conditions didn't support strong tornadoes type of situation, but this was not that. They were on the margins of an SPC hatched area for significant tornadoes, there was a discrete supercell with reflectivity, velocity and correlation coefficient signatures all indicative of a tornado in progress, in a very densely populated area, and it was after dark to boot.
 
Mar 2, 2004
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Wichita, KS
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I don't believe you can excuse this action, but I think it's not fair to solely blame the TV station. Having worked in several markets that are very heavy in severe weather coverage, I can tell you that part of the blame goes to Joe-Blow public given the amount of flack they give to TV stations who interrupt shows. And trust me when I say that it is amazing to hear how passionately stupid people are when it comes to interrupting trash TV shows (like Bachelor, etc).

Interrupting an in-market primetime game likely carries a lot of negative reaction from locals, and unfortunately there is a TON of "if it ain't affecting me" attitude there. It's likely there was discussion internally, and that probably accounted for some of the delay. My guess, and I would need to confirm this, is that the Met on duty was likely a 3rd/4th stringer (weekend guy verses chief) and they're probably under strict orders from management to NOT cut into primetime for severe weather unless absolutely needed. Obviously the reports of the ongoing tornado came in after the warning, so they may have reacted once it was confirmed a tornado was ongoing.

Again, I do not in any way support their decision to not cut in, and I believe whole-heartedly that you do break in when there is tornadic weather threatening a major metro area (I would not cut-in for severe in that instance, but tornado warnings, yes). But I also think you have to blame the public, as their constant bitching about interruptions has influenced greatly how severe weather is covered in these instances. Also they likely had significant ad revenue going as well, and probably other factors beyond my pay-grade. I could also see a 3rd/4th stringer hesitant to make that call on his own, not to mention not wanting to deal with death threats and the other idiotic reactions from idiots in the public who for whatever reason do not understand you can easily stream your shows/game FREE from multiple sources.

In this case, it should've been done. And I would like to think if I were in the hotseat in that situation, and the decision was mine to make (again, I'm taking away the management influence at this point), I would cut in. But I have to imagine there are strict protocol in place that had to go through the chain of command before they went on in that instance. There is a wide group to share the blame with, but I can see where the hesitation was. Still, a bad decision in this instance, IMO, regardless.

And no, there is no win for these stations. We get ripped from viewers if we cut into commercials cause they still see this as interrupting their shows. And when we don't go on, we get ripped. I know of two instances where we got angry viewer response from THE SAME PERSON who bitched at us for interrupting and NOT interrupting. Twice, from TWO DIFFERENT PEOPLE, so there is no win in this instance. It's a sad fact. No matter what we do, how we do it, someone is going to get angry.
 
Jun 1, 2008
490
393
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Chattanooga, TN
www.linkedin.com
Good idea to let them stream the game and do weather on TV. The game is the only thing they should have recommended streaming. Must go live on-air with a tornado emergency.

Remember older, minority, and other disenfranchised viewers may not be able to quickly access streaming online. Weather coverage must be live on-air, period. One must consider every demographic.

Finally TV Mets are indeed muzzled. They cannot criticize the Station and the public dishes out death threats. Those should be prosecuted as real threats. No that's not covered under free expression.
 

rdale

EF5
Mar 1, 2004
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Good idea to let them stream the game
That's not legal.

Must go live on-air with a tornado emergency.
There was never a Tornado Emergency.

Remember older, minority, and other disenfranchised viewers may not be able to quickly access streaming online. Weather coverage must be live on-air, period. One must consider every demographic.
Again - not justifying the TV station's move - but if you're in the path of a tornado and someone tells you there is a tornado coming, I'd find another station. Every other major station was wall-to-wall.
 
Jan 31, 2017
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Joplin, MO & Iowa City, IA
My guess, and I would need to confirm this, is that the Met on duty was likely a 3rd/4th stringer (weekend guy verses chief) and they're probably under strict orders from management to NOT cut into primetime for severe weather unless absolutely needed.
Having worked in weekend TV, my guess is that you are spot on. I wonder what the chief thought of this, whether he or she was consulted beforehand and how it might have been handled differently if it were Monday Night Football and the chief was working that night.

Weatherbrains discussed it this week (http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/5/3/f/53fcaeb3f89e1b28/wb102119.mp3?c_id=55590863&cs_id=55590863&expiration=1571873720&hwt=3ba6fd15f68474941bed7af492f32dbf). The relevant part starts at the 53-minute mark.
 

Dan Robinson

Staff member
Jan 14, 2011
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Another angle of this I hadn't realized before is, as Jon Davies noted in his latest blog post, the stadium where the game itself was being played was very close to where the tornadoes impacted. At one point the stadium itself was in the potential path of these storms. This could have been a situation where a tornado interrupted the game directly!
 
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rdale

EF5
Mar 1, 2004
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Having worked in weekend TV, my guess is that you are spot on. I wonder what the chief thought of this, whether he or she was consulted beforehand and how it might have been handled differently if it were Monday Night Football and the chief was working that night
As noted in WeatherBrains - the Chief Met was on duty during this event.

And to clarify Dan's note - the stadium was never in the path of the tornado or in a tornado warning.
 
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May 18, 2013
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I was out chasing (don't ask - 10 tors in my own backyard and I miss all of them) and did not see on-air coverage (or lack of it), but I went back and looked at the station's twitter feed and can confirm that both Chief Meteorologist Rick Mitchell (yes the one that is in Twister movie) and Meteorologist Brian James where there at the time. It would not surprise me if they had more, as they have a long history of brining in staff when a svr weather event is likely.

Like rdale noted, the stadium was never in the path or warning polygon. The tornado begin in Las Colinas, near the old Texas Stadium where the Cowboys used to play. They now play at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, which is about 12 miles southwest of the old stadium site.

The topic of on-air vs app coverage came up at Collin County Skywarn Training in Jan 2019, where NBC5 was the media partner and someone (who had noticed they didn't always cut in anymore) asked Rick about it. If my memory is correct, Rick said station management controls the decision to cut in and not the meteorological staff. Another person asked about people who don't have smart phones or can't use them well and I believe Rick toted the party line about there being other sources of weather information. My impression was he wasn't thrilled with the idea, but was not going to discuss his station's internal dirty laundry in public.

If you ask me, this "policy" was an attempt by NBC Universal to drive folks to install their app, while maybe also cutting down on a few complains about interrupted programming. It is worth noting that KXAS NBC5 is one of 12 stations that NBC Universal actually owns directly. What surprises me is they implemented this "policy" in spite of a heavy investment in weather. NBC5 has it's own S-band radar, a mobile X-band radar, and 2 fully equipped chase vehicles. They also have 6 meteorologists on staff. Getting a rap of not breaking in for a PDS Tornado Warning kind of goes against that investment. Of course NBC Universal also invests heavily in broadcasting the NFL.
 
Jun 1, 2008
490
393
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Chattanooga, TN
www.linkedin.com
Parts of my original post.

Good idea to let them stream the game and do weather on TV... Must go live on-air with a tornado emergency.

Remember older, minority, and other disenfranchised viewers may not be able to quickly access streaming online. Weather coverage must be live on-air, period. One must consider every demographic.


Finally TV Mets are indeed muzzled. They cannot criticize the Station and the public dishes out death threats. Those should be prosecuted as real threats. No that's not covered under free expression.
Boy gotta argue everything...

That's not legal.

There was never a Tornado Emergency.

Again - not justifying the TV station's move - but if you're in the path of a tornado and someone tells you there is a tornado coming, I'd find another station. Every other major station was wall-to-wall.
Actually it is legal to stream the game. NFL does all prime-time and local FREE!

PDS TORNADO WARNING was in effect. Is your defense PDS vs Emergency? Weak man, really awful.

They should have been on the air. Last post indeed sheds light on the poor management of the station.
 

rdale

EF5
Mar 1, 2004
6,983
500
21
49
Lansing, MI
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Boy gotta argue everything...
No, not "argue." You argue over opinions. Your claims were factually wrong. If you want to post factually wrong stuff, go to Facebook :)

Actually it is legal to stream the game. NFL does all prime-time and local FREE!
The NBC affiliate is not allowed to put the NFL game on their livestream.

Is your defense PDS vs Emergency?
I'm not defending anything. I'm pointing out where you were factually incorrect.

They should have been on the air.
Which is the point we've all made from the get-go :)
 
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Oct 10, 2004
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If you ask me, this "policy" was an attempt by NBC Universal to drive folks to install their app, while maybe also cutting down on a few complains about interrupted programming. It is worth noting that KXAS NBC5 is one of 12 stations that NBC Universal actually owns directly. What surprises me is they implemented this "policy" in spite of a heavy investment in weather. NBC5 has it's own S-band radar, a mobile X-band radar, and 2 fully equipped chase vehicles. They also have 6 meteorologists on staff. Getting a rap of not breaking in for a PDS Tornado Warning kind of goes against that investment. Of course NBC Universal also invests heavily in broadcasting the NFL.
Very interesting. I work (as a technical director/video editor) for the NBC affiliate here in Madison and we have (and have had since long before I started) a wall-to-wall ON AIR policy for any time there is a tornado warning in effect for any part of our market area.
 
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