Most D.C. Stations Go Wall-to-Wall on Sandy
WJLA divides coverage between broadcast, cable outlets
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 10/29/2012 11:38:01 AM
WRC-TV, D.C.'s NBC-owned station, for example, aired the first half-hour of Today, but was in local coverage from 4 a.m.-7 a.m. and then from 7:30 a.m. on.
"We are prepared to stay on while the storm is a threat to our viewers and our region," WRC manager of news, press and programming Matt Glassman told B&C Monday. The stations is tapping correspondents from NBC News, The Weather Channel, MSNBC, CNBC, and other owned stations and affiliates, he said, "so our viewers are aware of what's happening in other parts of the east coast."
The stations also have reporters on the Delaware beaches and other vacation spots for D.C. residents, and station meteorologists are also doing double duty on local radio.
Choosing not to drop regular morning programming was WJLA-TV, but that station has a joint news operation with co-owned NewsChannel 8 -- both are owned by Allbritton -- the regional cable news channel.
"We are doing weather cut-ins every half hour," said station spokesperson Abby Fenton. "Our noon show will be extended to an hour long and we will have a special 4 p.m. newscast." But the station is also ready to ramp up that coverage as the situation warrants. "[I]f our weather team decides we need to increase coverage given the severity of the storm, we will do so," she said. "We are fluid and ready to provide the best and most up to date information."
Unlike the other stations, WJLA has that 24-hour news outlet partner. "The NewsChannel 8 option is a key reason we are able to do things the way were are doing them," said Fenton. "We also have extensive storm information on our website." During NewsChannel 8's coverage, Prince George's County Maryland County Executive Rushern Baker thanked NewsChannel Eight for the job they are doing on the air.
Fenton said that the plan, for now, is "is continuous coverage on one of our local channels and extensive but not wall to wall on our other channel."
WUSA, the CBS affiliate, was streaming its coverage online and advised viewers to charge their computers and phones so they could follow the TV storm coverage there if need be. WJLA, WRC and Fox affiliate WTTG.
"We are modifying all coverage plans based on the weather, flooding, outages etc.," said Sandra Gehring of WUSA. "We went on live at 4 a.m., 30 minutes before our normal morning news starts time, and plan right now to stay on the air up through and including our early evening news block, 5 p.m. - 7:30 p.m."
WUSA is also shifting its soap operas to its digital channel, 9.2.
WTTG was advising viewers with smart phones to download its Fox 5 weather ap, which would allow them to track storm coverage by Zip code and city.
"WTTG began [Sunday] night with a 90 minute newscast after the final game of the World Series," according to a station spokesperson. "[We] came back on a few hours later at 4 a.m. and has been on ever since. Live coverage will be broadcast all night tonight and through at least noon [Tuesday]. "WTTG is planned to stay on covering the storm at least through 6:30 p.m. Tuesday night."
The station has crews in Ocean City, Md., Annapolis, Md., Alexandria, Va., and many other low-lying neighborhoods in its viewing area. Political reporter Tom Fitzgerald is covering the storm the storm's impact on the elections--effects on early voting, for example, and changes in campaign plans.
Reporters for the station are in Rehoboth Beach, Del.; Asbury Park, N.J.; New York City, Virginia Beach, Va., and elsewhere.
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