Friday, July 21, 2006

Where's Dr. Francis Davis? My TV News Gripe

Who? I know you don't remember him, and it's just as well. You probably don't remember Francis Davis because the job he did back in the early 70s was the weather on Channel 6 (WFIL, before the call letter change to WPVI) News (and I believe it was before the Action News format). But the thing is, when he and the guys on channels 3 and 10 did the weather, you saw them only twice - once at the start of the program saying hello, and again when the time for the forecast came up - and that was it!

I'm weighing in my two cents today on the subject of TV weather. Much has been written about it locally such as Tom Ferrick's recent column in the Inquirer, but now I get my turn. Why you ask, is it such a big deal? Because when you turn on the noon news and the first twelve minutes are dedicated to weather and the "big" storm, you've had enough. Cut the crap, it's sad that folks are without power and that some had been injured or suffered loss. But 12 minutes out of 30 geared toward weather? Let's be real folks, you're wasting our time. You're driving folks to the web to get their news, and maybe we're better off for it.

And do we really need weatherchics like Cecily Tynan and Cathy Orr? Francis Davis gave the weather in a plain old suit, no flash at all. Alright, maybe we do need Cecily or Cathy, only because I'd rather watch them than Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz over on NBC 10. Who names themself "Hurricane" anyhow, especially in a geographical area that doesn't see that many of those types of storm? Maybe Glenn "Thundershowers" Schwartz would fit better. Still, he's a step up. If you remember John Bolaris, he of the "Storm of the Century" forecast that wasn't, you know what I mean. Flashy John could forecast that Acme would sell out of milk and bread because of him setting the viewers in panic, but accuracy? We could expect dry days when those storms were forecast.

My challenge to the big three (NBC10, CBS3, and ABC6)...when your anchor weighs in for the start of the program, have him or her introduce the weather babe or dude, let the weather person say something as generic as "storms on the way in our five day forecast", and then get to the hard news. Let the meteorologist wait until midway, or even at the last ten minutes like Dr. Davis did to tell us that we're going to get dumped on, maybe. Hey, I have to wait for the last five minutes to find out if the Phils won or lost because your sports guy comes on before the commercial break and gets generic with me, telling me, "Phillies in New York playing the Mets tonight, will they break this latest losing streak? Stay tuned!" Yeah, keep me in suspense while I bypass and go to to check the scores and standings. Oh, hey, and yeah, to, I can get my weather and not have you tell me three times tonight the same thing you told me at the start of the broadcast. This Internet thing is useful more than you may have thought!
Come back to the airwaves, Dr. Francis Davis!

...The original Action News format with Larry Kane, Joe Pelligrino, and, oh yeah, Francis Davis. on channel 6. The late, great Jim O'Brien came along later to do the weather with more color, but at least not three times at 11.

...The authoritative voice of John Facenda on Channel 10, back when they were a CBS station. Mr. Facenda also was the voice of NFL Films and the light show at John Wanamakers in it's earlier years.

...Vince Leonard on KYW3 when they started Eyewitness News. That same program gave us the first view of talk show host Tom "fire up the colortini" Snyder, remembered for his interview on his late night talk show with Charles Manson. David Letterman later got Snyder's talk show spot.

...When news programs came on at 6 and 11 PM. No noon, no 4, 5, 5:30 shows. The older shows got right to the point, no crap like I saw tonight on 3 where they gave us a warning on how to open bubble packaging in the first ten minutes of the program. Hey, that used to be hard news time, now they use it to tell me to get my scissors out instead of using a knife to open my packages from Best Buys. Thanks, I'll consider myself well-informed now!

...When you knew the news was bad, because of what was once called a "Special Report". The newscasters would break into "regularly scheduled programming" to tell us about an assasination, plane crash, or other terrible event. Now, it's called "Breaking News", and the events are as serious as someone reporting a gas leak in their neighborhood. Break in when you hear the boom when the gas ignites, not when the neighbor smells it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

All great points, the new was the news with Gunnar Back & Dr. Davis!