WEMP Covers October Snowstorm in Haphazard Fashion

The new kid on the news block, WEMP, fails to use the historic snowstorm to its advantage.

As Merlin Media’s FM News 101.9/WEMP was officially starting in August, we reported on their failed coverage of record-setting rainfall.

On Saturday, weather brought the spotlight was back to WEMP with the most October snow to ever fall in New York (1.3 inches), and much more in the suburbs.

Forecasters had been eyeing this weekend for the affects of a Nor’easter in the tri-state region.

However, WEMP did not to plan accordingly.

In the afternoon, as the storm intensified, listeners heard anchors Therese Crowley and Gene Michaels lead with the weather story. WEMP even offered updates from staffers, including anchor Catherine Smith, Doug O’Brien, and producer Judy Speicher. Unlike stalwarts WCBS and WINS, WEMP featured the radio pros “holed up” in their homes.

Granted it was a weather “presence,” but not much more than a lame one. Think about it. When was the last time you heard radio reporters covering a major weather event looking out their own windows?  

Hearing the accomplished Smith saying she found her car “encased” in an inch and a half of snow upon leaving the grocery store, was definitely a unique, albeit odd angle.

That odd coverage continued when Smith’s husband, WEMP managing editor O’Brien called in as well. He provided information about trees down in their Southern Westchester neighborhood. The personalized reporting led to O’Brien saying he would be calling Con Edison because of downed power lines on his property.

It should be noted that these longtime anchors/reporters primarily only gave details about what was visible to them.

But if that weren’t bad enough, the reports were rerun. In the middle of the breaking news weather event, there’s no excuse to replay the same reports from the “field.”

In fact, it appears that entire segments were replayed. Following meteorologist Scott Derek increasing the totals, Crowley chimed in “did you say three to six inches for New York City?”

From the sampling of WEMP that FishbowlNY did, that exact same exchange aired less than an hour later.

To be fair, WEMP did have veteran reporter Alice Stockton-Rossini assessing the condition at the Jersey shore.  However, her piece was repeated several times.

As the storm churned, reporter Bob Brown had the ubiquitous story about people buying supplies, especially shovels at a Home Depot.

Of course, by 6 p.m. Saturday night, the story was not about preparing for the impending snow. It was the snow itself.  

Unlike the opening weekend missteps, this time around WEMP showed a better sense of news judgment. The station, though, was way off-base on how to cover a story of this magnitude.