on the beat

There’s no business like snow business

 By Jim Bucher

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

White death – Snowmageddon 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 it’s the coming plague. 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 10 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 truck drivers within a few hours. So, chances are you’ll be able to get out of the house later in the day.

Don’t get me started on school closings. How in the heck do they function in the Dakotas, where they get 20 to 30 times the snowfall we see in Dayton? You know what? They go to school.

As far the closings 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 what’s closed?

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.

“Dayton Public Schools closed, Kettering City Schools closed, Barb’s Beauty Salon on Far Hills is closed, but will reopen tomorrow for all your hair needs.”

Too funny, but effective. 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, 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 most restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, convenience stores, etc., are open and count on customers to keep the economic clock ticking.

The late Hara Arena General Manager Johnny Walker, who at one time was the news director at Channel 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 seats equals no bucks.

Speaking of butts, let me 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 of 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 carried the big three networks programming – ABC, NBC and CBS, respectively. Each station could sell local commercial time, which equaled truckloads of cash.

Now, picture an apple pie that represents the money businesses spend on advertising. If you cut it up into three pieces, well, those are pretty big portions. Now, 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 newsroom 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 WDTN in the day, we sent the entire newsroom to Miami for the Bengals’ Super Bowl appearance, to Oakland for the Reds’ 1990 World Series win over the A’s and on and on.

So, with income dwindling, travel budgets became nonexistent. 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 about weather? Weather affects everyone, and it’s free. We can promote weather and we don’t have to travel anywhere or 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 Dayton Ohio State Patrol Post.

“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,” Kramer said. “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.”

And with that, I have more snow to shovel.

See ya next week!

 

Cheers,

Buch

For more than 25 years, “Buch” has been a local television icon. Known and loved by thousands in the Miami Valley, his followers describe him as trust-worthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and a role model. When it comes to promoting your business, Buch has the ability to grab your customer’s attention. Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

 

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