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Warm and Fuzzy Beard, Hurricane Hysteria and Overpriced Pretzels

Anderson Cooper visited Wolfson Children's Hos...

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When John Beard arrived at Channel 2 almost two years ago, local TV viewers weren’t instantly enthralled with someone who had been a popular anchor almost three decades earlier when he was at Channel 4.
Even when Beard was a star in the Los Angeles market, he always stayed in touch with Buffalo through his friendships with Channel 2 meteorologist Kevin O’Connell and sports anchor Ed Kilgore.
His friends eventually alerted General Manager Jim Toellner to Beard’s interest and availability.
Toellner took somewhat of a gamble to bring in Beard and have him replace popular co-anchor Pete Gallivan on the morning news program “Daybreak.”
Initial reaction went something like this after the former L.A. glamour boy decided to return to Buffalo after being unemployed for so long that his TV career almost seemed to be over:
*Boy, did he get old.
*What happened to his hair?
*And when is he going to stop stumbling reading the news?
As if we all didn’t get old if we’re lucky and many of us don’t discover that hair loss is one of the lesser issues of aging.
It didn’t take too long for those complaints to disappear and for local viewers to embrace the now 62-year-old Beard and his younger co-anchor Jodi Johnson on Channel 2’s morning program “Daybreak.”
Toellner’s gamble paid off big time. “Daybreak” has been No. 1 in the mornings for a year, having taken over that crown from Channel 4’s “Wake Up” with Victoria Hong and Joe Arena.
In fact, things have been going to so well that there was speculation that Beard had attracted some attention from other markets and might exit when his initial two-year contract runs out in a few weeks.
“I’m going to stay,” Beard told stilltalkintv in a telephone interview. “I’m happy. I like the station, I like the city and I like the people I work with and for.”
* Hurricane Watch: Did the media and politicians cry wolf reporting on Hurricane Irene, which was supposed to be the latest Storm of the Century?
That question will be debated for days, or at least as long as the “pregame” Irene Hysteria played out before its arrival.

NBC’s “Today” show asked whether Irene was “overhyped” this morning, with reporter Peter Alexander coming to the conclusion that it depended on where you live and meteorologist Al Roker concluding he would recommend the same precautions the next time even if the hurricane didn’t meet expectations this time.
I agree with Alexander’s assessment that views on whether it was overhyped depend on where you live.

I awoke around 8 Sunday morning expecting the worst as I turned on the television.
I knew things weren’t quite as bad as expected when NBC’s “Today” with Matt Lauer and Ann Curry were hosting the only broadcast network covering the hurricane and CNN’s Anderson Cooper was speculating that Irene soon would be downgraded to a tropical storm.
Another CNN reporter called Irene a “mini-Hurricane” before the downgrade.
A combination of improved science, improved technology and 24/7 news contributed to the Hurricane Hysteria, along with a laudable “better safe than sorry” attitude embraced by politicians.
Since I have relatives in the Washington, D.C. area and Long Island, I had extra reason to watch all the Hurricane Hysteria over the weekend.
Two of my three children and my brother live in the D.C. area. Anyone who knows my older son Ben probably aren’t surprised to learn that he survived Irene by drinking Hurricanes, a concoction he first grew to love during a trip to New Orleans when Syracuse won the national basketball title.
My older brother was at the Maryland shore on vacation with his wife and was reluctant to leave despite being told to evacuate. On Friday, he questioned whether the hysteria was all media hype. Eventually, he left the shore to go back to D.C., fully prepared to unleash his fury at the media if the storm didn’t come as advertised.
At around 9 Sunday morning, my daughter – who also lives in the D.C. area — reported via text that my brother was right and all was well. She and her husband lost power briefly and their dogs went a little nuts, but their house was still standing.
At 11 a.m., my sister on Long Island reported “nothing much” had happened there despite all the warnings.
In other words, all my relatives would vote for Irene in the overhyped category.

I think my sister is more reliable than Matt Lauer or Anderson Cooper and my brother is a better weather forecaster than all the Irene experts. And Ben had the best plan for dealing with the hurricane.
Of course, the justifiable fear is that the next Irene won’t be taken quite as seriously as it should be. Even Roker agreed this morning that is likely to happen next time.
* Are the Buffalo Bills problems being overhyped?
Judging by their entertaining 35-32 preseason win over Jacksonville Saturday I would say it is too early to predict disaster.

However, it doesn’t mean talk show hosts aren’t piling on. On my way to The Ralph, I heard WGR’s Paul Hamilton and another guy talk about the low morale on the team and paint a devastating picture of this year’s prospects.
But the Bills first-teamers played so well that even Buffalo News columnist Jerry Sullivan wrote a positive column on the game.
That doesn’t mean that I didn’t find some things to complain about off the field.
As you may know by reading this blog, I have a little Larry David in me. I get easily annoyed.
I have a complaint or two about the concession offerings at the Ralph. A pretzel with cheese now costs $6. I just wanted a pretzel. I ordered one without the cheese and it cost $6. I don’t want to pay $6 for a pretzel. Heck, they only cost $3 in NYC. I would have gladly paid $4 without the cheese, which must be worth something. The guy behind the counter appeared to agree when he said “they just changed it so you have to pay for the cheese, but I don’t know why.”
Probably to get $6 instead of $4.
So I ordered popcorn for $5 and a soft drink, which only cost $2. On the other hand, a bottle of water – the more healthy choice – cost $4.50. Shouldn’t it be the other way around — $2 for water and $4.50 for soda?
Oh, well, I suppose we should be happy that soda doesn’t cost $4.50, too.
I think Larry David could make an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” out of  this.


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4 responses to "Warm and Fuzzy Beard, Hurricane Hysteria and Overpriced Pretzels"

  1. Mark Scott says:

    We shouldn’t be engaging in Monday Morning Quarterbacking when it comes to hurricanes. Here’s the thing. Mother Nature can’t be controlled! We see it locally during winter storms. And we just saw it with the hurricane. It seems to me meteorologists make their best forecasts, based on the data, and then pass that information along to the public to make the appropriate decisions. Do the media, especially the cable news networks, hype the story? Of course they do! But that’s what cable news does, not only with this, but every story of significance. Once it’s over, they move onto the next story. I have no doubt the meteorologists were sincere in their belief that Irene posed a significant danger as a Category 2 to 3 storm as it headed toward the US coast. If the storm had been as severe as forecast — and elected leaders had done nothing to prepare — there could have been a significant loss of life. Surely you’re not saying, Alan, your brother was hoping for a more severe storm to justify his decision to leave his vacation spot. I’m thanking my lucky stars today that the storm was weaker than expected, and that my friends who live along the east coast were able to dodge a bullet this time. Remember when forecasters predicted the massive February snow storm that failed to materialize here in Buffalo? Local weathermen were lambasted here and elsewhere for creating hysteria. Well, there was no early warning for the October Suprise five years ago and remember how we chastised forecasters for that? Obviously, this is a lose-lose situation for meteorologists. They lose if a severe storm fails to materialize, and they lose if they do not let us know of an unusual weather event. A hurricane in and of itself IS a dangerous storm. It can kill and destroy property. Yes, today’s media will hype it. But that’s not going to change, even if every television critic in the land takes them to task. The media environment in the second decade of the 21st century is what it is. I will argue the alternative is much worse — and that is the public ignoring weather warnings and not being prepared, leading to a loss of life and more.

  2. Tom says:

    Alan- there is a rumor going around that WGRZ will be broadcasting in HD starting with the November sweeps. Apparently the station page with Wikipedia was updated to reflect this (which Wikipedia is not 100% reliable). Trying to find out for myself, I can’t find any source indicating this. Can you potentially confirm if HD is in the near future for them?

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