Professionals Under Pressure
Posted: August 23, 2013
I visited the WEAU-TV 13 studio twice this week to promote this weekend's Festival in the Pines. I've done these types of interviews for the past 15 years; and, for the most part, they are fairly uneventful. What I mean is that the television interview generally goes smoothly and it often gives me time to chat with media colleagues.
For example, on Tuesday morning, I met with TV-13's long-time news anchor Judy Clark. She and I both started in the radio news departments 25 years ago at WAXX-104.5FM/WAYY-AM 1150 and I-94FM/WEAQ-AM 790, respectively. We had a chance to touch base and talk about family and reminisce about radio in the old days.
But on Wednesday's 5pm newscast with Andrew Fefer, the situation was completely different. Violent thunderstorms were rolling into the Menomonie area at the same time the WEAU-TV news staff was preparing to do a live newscast prior to their charity softball game.
It was apparent at about 4:55pm that the situation may not be safe. A computer siren alerted weatherman Matt Hoffman that a Thunderstorm Warning was in effect immediately for the area where the broadcast was to take place. Television executives were anxious about whether to still broadcast live or conduct the newscast from the studio.
I have always heard about "golfball-sized " hail, but I have never seen the end-product. But, at 4:58pm on Wednesday, I saw Judy Clark and Sarah Stokes holding pieces of hail that looked to be the size of a golf ball in their hands as winds blew at about 40 miles per hour in a pouring rain. Nobody was sure if the broadcast at 5pm would take place live from Menomonie, but Andrew Fefer and Matt Hoffman were prepared to take over from the studio if the satellite feed was lost due to the inclement weather.
As it turned out, both female anchors kept their cool and were able to execute their 5pm newscast. There was some nervous laughter, but everyone was safe. On the studio side, I witnessed both Fefer and Hoffman handle spontaneity with professionalism. No teleprompter for the weatherman Hoffman. He winged it without a hitch.
There are times in the 26 years I have lived in Eau Claire that I have been critical of our local NBC affiliate's news and weather coverage. But that all changed this past week as I witnessed how professionals rise to the occasion under pressure.
AS ALWAYS, THERE WILL BE NO ISSUE OF THE BOTTOM LINE NEXT WEEK AFTER FESTIVAL IN THE PINES...AND PRIOR TO LABOR DAY WEEKEND.