WAVY, an NBC-affiliate serving southeastern Virginia, went into breathless breaking news mode on Friday evening after a black bear was spotted roaming a neighborhood in Virginia Beach. WAVY provided nearly two hours of live coverage on Friday, even preempting NBC’s “Nightly News,” to report on developments with the bear, who spent the time quietly perched in a tree.
Reporter Andy Fox, along with photographer Walter Hildebrand, covered the movement of the bear, which was first spotted by a local resident around 11 p.m. on Thursday, throughout the day Friday as the saga eventually came to an end during primetime.
After fruitlessly waiting for police officers to move in on the bear during the 6 o’clock hour, WAVY went to the regularly scheduled “Entertainment Tonight” at 7:00. Police ended up shooting the bear with a tranquilizer dart around 7:15, and then WAVY broke in at 8:30 as officials worked to lower the bear’s comatose body from the tree.
After all the coverage, though, WAVY missed the money shot.
The station decided to skip back to NBC’s primetime lineup around 8:50, almost the exact moment when officials lowered the bear to the ground in a harness.
After returning to regularly scheduled programming for less than a minute, WAVY frantically went back to live coverage as someone’s voice was heard shouting “Go back! Go back!”
“We apologize for our timing, or lack thereof,” anchor Tom Schaad told viewers as the station played video of the bear being lowered from the tree just seconds earlier.
Here’s video of the bear incident:
Viewers expressed a mix of reactions on Facebook to WAVY’s extended coverage of the bear incident. While some saw it as a welcome respite from, as one commenter put it, “all the bad things happening in this awful world,” many described it as overkill.