Hurricane Madness Round 2
As expected, Coop and his storm chasin' colleagues swung into action Sunday night as Hurricane Wilma slammed into South Florida as a Category 3 hurricane. Also as expected, correspondents often looked foolish, risking their safety to stand in stiff winds excitedly pointing out fallen trees, broken windows and minor flooding. Joined by colleague John Zarrella on Marco Island, Cooper continued the rain-in-the-face shtick that began to wear thin during Rita while documenting Wilma's effects.
See what I wrote in the Times about this bit of showboating here.
Local TV stations blew out their national morning show programming for wall-to-wall Wilma coverage through noon, while Tampa Bay's National Public Radio station WUSF-89.7 FM offered a few expanded local reports alongside the network stuff -- with a few glitches as the signal went down for brief periods. WSTP-Ch. 10 seemed to be the last local station in the pool Sunday night, running infomercials at 3 a.m. while competitors already were presenting live reports.
By morning, however, WFTS-Ch. 28's Don Germaise seemed the only local guy dumb enough to ape Cooper's act (a WFLA reporter was ordered out of the storm by sensible managers after offering a similar report earlier), standing in the winds which raked Naples this morning to prove that, yes indeed, gusts were strong and the rain was slashing. Elsewhere, correspondents for WTSP and WTVT were standing in St. Petersburg and Pass-a-Grille's much safer confines, noting how lucky we were to miss the worst of Wilma.
Someday, viewers will tire of the Hurricane porn TV reporters offer by standing in gale force winds shouting the obvious (and no, praying they get hit by something still doesn't justify the voyeurism).
For me, the fallout from Katrina's awful aftermath includes a diminished patience for the usual storm hyperbole; too bad the experience didn't breed similar respect from the reporters dominating our TV screens today.