Let it snow!

By Jim Bucher

February 6, 2014

I remember a time when a prediction of snow meant sledding, snow ball fights and no school. Why now is snow ostracized?

White death, Snow-mageddon if you will.

Last I looked, snow hasn’t changed in my lifetime. Snow is snow right? So why oh why, are we afraid of it?

Like the plague is coming.

Just the mention of a snowfall prediction sends people into a panic, storming grocery stores with reckless abandon. Shoppers hoard bread and milk for some odd reason. Can you hear a typical household conversation?

‘Hun, you know we have a couple inches of snow coming this evening.’ ‘Yes, I know, but were good. I have ten loaves of bread and six gallons of milk in case.’

Madness I tell you, madness.

Most ‘snow events’ are cleared from the highways and byways by our hard working plow and salt trick drivers within a few hours. So chances are you’ll be able to get outta the house later in the day. And don’t get me started on school closings. How in the heck do they function in the Dakota’s who has 20 or 30 times the snowfalls we do. You know what? They go to school.

And the closings that the TV stations crawl on the bottom of your TV screen.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to announce what’s open as opposed to closed? And leave it to our entrepreneurship here in the Miami Valley.

You’ll see a typical list of school closings, but a wag or two out there gets creative.

‘Xenia Public Schools closed, Fairborn City Schools closed, Barb’s Beauty Salon in Beavercreek is closed, but will reopen tomorrow for all your hair needs.’ Too funny but, it works, a nice business plug for free. So who’s to blame for our fear of snow. When I was working in the TV news business, it would floor me when a team of reporters would report LIVE outside in the storm, when one of the rookies while trying to fill time, would inadvertently say, ‘If you don’t need to go out, I suggest you don’t.

NO, NO, NO! If the authorities didn’t proclaim that, then don’t say it!

What the young reporter didn’t take into consideration was the fact that most restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, convenience stores, etc, etc, are OPEN and count on customers to keep the economic clock ticking. The late HARA General Manager Johnny Walker, who at one time was the news director boss at ch. 22 would hit the ceiling when reporters would use the ‘stay off the roads’ line especially if the rodeo was in town.

Those four words would kill his business.

No butts in the seats equals no bucks.

Speaking of butts, Lemme try to get to the ‘bottom’ of this ‘flurry’ of madness.

Why now in 2014 is snow like a plague of locusts, fire and brimstone, end the world. UGH! I blame cable TV. Yes, you heard correctly, cable TV. Back before cable, most television markets around the country had three local tv stations in each city.

Most carrying the big three network’s programming, ABC, NBC and CBS respectively.

Each station could sell local commercial time which equaled truck loads of cash. Now picture an apple pie which represents money businesses spend on advertising.

If you cut it up into three pieces, well those are pretty big portions and add 300 cable stations vying for the very same pie. See my point?

Well, the advertising pie is now cut from three pieces to 300, so ad revenue for the big three was dramatically cut.

So too then were news room budgets. At one time if you needed to go out of town for a story or event, you basically had a blank check. When I worked for Ch. 2, we sent the entire newsroom to Miami for the Bengals Super Bowl appearance, Oakland for the Reds 1990 World Series win over the A’s and on and on. So with income dwindling, travel budgets etc. became non-existent. What could TV stations do to stop the hemorrhaging, get people to tune in, because expensive stunts like Super Bowls and World Series local coverage is out.

How ‘bout weather? Weather affects everyone and its free. We can promote weather and we don’t have to travel anywhere, spend tons of money to do it. That’s when the emphasis turned to weather. Everything is weather. Storm Team this and First Alert Weather that and on and on and on. So, next time there’s a flurry of flurries well, let’s leave you with some advice from someone who knows best, Sgt. Jeff Kramer from the Ohio State Patrol, “When I no longer thrill to the first snow of the season, I’ll know I’m an Ohio State Trooper”

But seriously sarge.

“If you have to go out in a weather event, you and you only know your driving capabilities. You should make the decision based on that. Of course if local law enforcement deems it unsafe for driving, we ask you to stay off the roads. Bottom line, slow down, be careful and be safe.’ Kramer says.

And with that, I have more snow to shovel. Cheers Buch.