Theres no business like snow business


Three, two, one É salivate. That's what's happening in Portland radio and TV newsrooms as the winter storm countdown begins, giving stations the opportunity to saturate the airwaves with weather overkill.

Never mind that we're a little behind schedule. If you remember, last year at this time, KATU (2), KGW (8), KOIN (6), KPTV (12) and Northwest Cable News were in the midst of wall-to-wall coverage of the big snow of 2004. The weather story broke all records for nonstop coverage and succeeded in posting stellar ratings.

The fact is, when it comes to major weather news, there is no other type of local news programming that brings in more viewers. Mount St. Helens erupting takes second place in viewer interest to that first snowflake in east county or the West Hills.

At the risk of divulging trade secrets, here's a preview of what we can expect (again) and what reporters and videographers are prepping for.

Gorge screeching: The ability to shout live commentary along Interstate 84 near Troutdale while looking unbearably cold and having your parka hood blow off, reducing your carefully coifed hair to a tangled mess. The goal here is to show how miserable you are. Meanwhile, back in Portland, it's not nearly so bad and viewers are actually laughing at you.

Sylvan sensationalizing: Being able to reach fever pitch reporting on the snow falling while standing on the Sylvan overpass and measuring the snow depth with a pencil or ruler. At night, it's also important for camerapeople to set up enough lights to blind any oncoming drivers.

Spinout spotting: Look for the best examples of vehicles slipping down hills, SUVs getting stuck in ditches and TriMet buses stalling. Then replay the video 20 times an hour to make it look as if the situation is a lot worse than it really is.

Doppler doting: Give credit to weather radar for showing snow and precipitation, although it would have been nice if the warning could have come a whole lot sooner. Every once in a while, remind viewers they can get the same information by looking out the window.

Obvious stating: All stations need to do is to quote Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Dave Thompson, who told KOIN this week that 'the roads are not completely safe. It's winter.' But that's not what will happen. Instead we'll be told to 'drive safely,' 'be careful,' 'dress warmly,' 'don't drive unless you have to' and 'bring your pets inside' Ñ several thousand times.

Kid gloating: Interview unintelligible children while they're throwing snowballs at the camera and bubbling about how great it is that school has been canceled. Maybe this year someone can find a kid who actually misses school. If that happens, expect a giant 'Exclusive!' splashed across the screen.

And now this É

Locally produced 'Sports Business Radio' will be nationally syndicated on about 300 radio stations and on Sirius Satellite Radio's Channel 122. The show, hosted by Brian Berger and Keith Forman, was removed from the KXL (750 AM) weekend lineup last month after nine months on the air.

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