TV Stations Go Wall-to-Wall for Irene Coverage All Weekend

As Hurricane Irene churned in the Atlantic with a bulls-eye at New York City’s back, TV stations went into non-stop coverage throughout the weekend.

The category-one storm made her first landfall early Saturday morning in Cape Lookout, North Carolina as stations began their wall-to-wall mode.

Accentuating the serious nature of the story, virtually every anchor was on the air.

WNYW’s Dari Alexander was one of the few anchors not seen during the weekend coverage. She was last seen by viewers on Friday night. Her 10 p.m. colleague Ernie Anastos (above, center) made his first appearance at 3 p.m. Sunday with co-anchor Christina Park, as the storm weakened significantly.

But Channel 5 did have its Good Day team, Rosanna Scotto and Greg Kelly, in place. However, much of Scotto’s screen time during the weekend was with WNYW’s newest member–Steve Lacy, and not her “TV husband” Kelly.

Kelly and Scotto were together Saturday, helping provide of the special moments.

Kelly’s mom (and husband of New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly) Veronica, a city volunteer for residents calling 311, spoke with Channel 5.

She ended the interview by telling her son,”I love you.”

On Sunday, WNYW did its typical simulcast on sister station WWOR/Channel 9. But Saturday, Harry Martin anchored unique coverage for Channel 9.

Surprisingly, Jodi Applegate was a no-show for WPIX/Channel 11. She had tweeted that she would anchor Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.  However, as of 12:40 p.m., morning anchor Sukanya Krishnan and her new co-anchor Frances Rivera were still on their yeoman duty. It’s a jumpstart to Rivera’s WPIX career, as she was scheduled to debut on Monday. (By 3 p.m., WPIX had gone back to regular programming.) 

WCBS/Channel 2, with a deep bench of anchors, had weekday morning anchors Rob Morrison and Mary Calvi kick off its station non-stop coverage on Saturday. By the afternoon, evening anchors Maurice DuBois and Kristine Johnson were front and center for Channel 2. Their marathon lasted until 1 a.m., when Don Dahler and Cindy Hsu took the handoff as Irene closed in on the tri-state area.

DuBois and Johnson were back in the driver’s seat of Channel 2’s coverage by 8 a.m. Sunday.

But Channel 2 wasn’t the only station using their “A-team” as Irene made landfall. At WNBC, Chuck Scarborough did at least five hours behind the anchor desk Saturday evening, joined by Sue Simmons for the majority of that time. After taking an overnight respite, Scarborough relieved Michael Gargiulo, teaming with Darlene Rodriguez.  

One highlight during the Scarborough and Simmons watch, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, a New Jersey native, spent several minutes with the longtime anchor team. Williams’ segment brought a nice escape from the intense reporting, with a mix of professionalism and witty repartee, usually reserved for David Letterman.

At WABC, Bill Ritter also worked Saturday night with Sade Baderinwa, before returning early Sunday with Liz Cho.  

Back to WCBS, they used Mobile 2 to their advantage just as when they unveiled the vehicle during the winter.

Chris Wragge, who is back to anchor the 6 p.m. newscast starting next month, was driving around Spring Lake and Sea Girt for an extended period time. At one point,  Wragge appeared to be reporting more often than weather anchor Lonnie Quinn (right).

Tony Aiello also spent many hours touring the city. While giving a first hand look at conditions in Brooklyn, Aiello was joined by “back seat driver,” borough president Marty Markowitz.

Newly hired Channel 2 reporter Ann Mercogliano got her initiation with the station, handling the pre-storm coverage from Long Beach Saturday morning.

As for the meteorologists, of course, it was all hands on deck there too.

Channel 2 weather forecaster Quinn was on the air for the brunt of the coverage. But beyond that, he shined by continually providing the most detailed updates. Quinn has a knack for piling on information to viewers in the simplest way possible.

Not to be outdone, Nick Gregory (top right), who split time with Mike Woods, did his usual solid job with tracking Irene as the system made landfall Sunday morning in New York as a tropical storm.