WMAR’s Irene Coverage is a train wreck #mdhurricane @WMAR2News

Tonight, I was watching NASCAR pre-race coverage on Speed, and flipping around to all the different news channels watching the early news about Hurricane Irene. I decided to flip over to Channel 2 (WMAR) to see what they were going to do when the ABC pre-race coverage was supposed to begin. I had seen messages on Twitter indicating that ABC affiliates in some markets were moving the race to ESPN or ESPN2 and going wall-to-wall on news coverage.

So, I made a tweet asking WMAR if they were moving the race to ESPN or ESPN2 - about a minute later (6:55 or so) - they said they would be carrying the race. They really played this up before they switched over the 7 p.m. ABC pre-race show. I was a bit surprised at the time that they were going to cut away from coverage of the Hurricane to go the race when stations in other markets were shifting to ESPN. DC local stations as early as this afternoon were even moving sports over to their digital subchannels (presumably the DC ABC affiliate did so tonight for the race too from what I heard.)

The race started after 7:30 and they had a few cut-ins during commercials or race cautions to update the situation. Then, at 8:22 WMAR cut back in with a weather update and an anchor - Jamie Costello - breathlessly and melodramatically saying that the race was moving to ESPN now because the hurricane was “a matter of safety” and “Ocean City is flooding.”

The amateur hour in the newsroom continued and then they cut to a remote shot of Justin Berk in Ocean City using his vehicle headlights for lighting since the power was out at the Hilton. He then proceeded to give the most melodramatic report for a Category 1 hurricane I’ve ever seen on any local or national network.

Understandably he might be a bit excited so I’m not going to really knock him for that. However, he then went on to give a detailed damage report on the Hilton hotel which was his host (they also hosted WBAL but the times I was watching their coverage, I never heard Shelton Dutes do that.) That’s probably at some level rude to do that to your host and a big no-no. I would expect Hilton management is very unhappy with Berk.

Then when they cut back to the studio, Wyatt Everhart got all dramatic again and talked about how they were on the main channel now because the situation was so important.

Of course, it was so important that a mere 23 minutes after moving the race to ESPN they moved the race back to Channel 2 at 8:45.

As of 9:23, the race is still on WMAR. They have their coverage on their weather channel, but there are still people without that level of cable or even people using an antenna. So much for providing a public service on the airwaves.

To emphasize the above fact, right now WMAR is the only station not showing live coverage of Hurricane Irene. At 9:25, WBAL, WBFF, and WJZ are all showing live coverage of the storm.

What should we expect from a station that has Linda So (who steals stories) working at the SEOC in Reisterstown.

Apparently their news operation is such a joke they don’t want to put it on the main channel.


  1. 1

    now that WMAR is back actually covering the storm

    Comment by nickp — August 27, 2011 @ 10:57 pm

  2. 2

    [...] WMAR thought the inbound hurricane was so important that they cut away to NASCAR just before 7 p.m. [...]

    Pingback by Winners and Losers, Hurricane Irene Edition | Inside Charm City: Baltimore, Maryland blog — August 31, 2011 @ 10:57 pm

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