Armed with expensive weather radar equipment and itching to turn every routine summer shower into a scary, viewer-building media event, WKRN-Channel 2 is exploiting the popularity of reality programming with the debut of Davis Nolan’s Storm Classics.
The premise of the show, which one television executive unaffiliated with WKRN calls “highly dubious,” is that every week the venerable weatherman will resurrect radar and satellite footage of a past storm and provide what a station press release calls “updated and exciting narration and context.”
“Our studies show that the programming with the highest degree of viewer interest and interaction is our special weather reports,” says Channel 2 news director Matthew Zelkind. “People are just riveted by these things, and this is just a way to make that a viewing experience, rather than forcing the viewer to rely on the vagaries of the actual weather.”
In the debut of Storm Classics last Thursday night, viewers saw the reprise of a storm that originally struck June 15, 1998. Nolan, whose station nickname is “The Imperfect Storm,” dutifully narrated as his younger self excitedly gestured at a map and followed a “squall line just east of the Tennessee River” as it passed over Middle Tennesseee. Then, at the program’s conclusion, he cut to some news footage of “downed trees and power lines” from Gallatin.
Despite the fact that the show aired on a crisp and clear summer night without a trace of a rain cloud in the sky, the station still received numerous calls from viewers so confused by it that they took cover from the 3-year-old storm.
“Some people just aren’t real quick to pick up on the premise of the show,” Zelkind says. “But we’re quite pleased. We have years of this footage sitting in our vaults, and Davis just can’t wait to bring it all back again.”
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