There will be no shortage of coverage of the big winter storm that's moving over the southern Lower Peninsula on area radio and television stations. From the weather forecasters to technicians, camera operators, anchors, reporters, and radio program hosts, few outside of essential public service jobs (like snowplow drivers!) will have tougher assignments the next few days. Many will go without sleep, and those working the early shifts tomorrow with likely either try and sleep at their station or hope to grab a room at hotel close enough to minimize the commute.
Viewers and listeners at home will be treated to extensive coverage of the event, which some analysts are saying could result in one of the all-time top storms across the region in terms of snowfall totals and impact on travel and commerce. Several television stations from Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint/Saginaw, and Lansing have already announced to viewers that their morning newscasts will begin as early as 4 a.m. with the latest on the storm itself, school closings (all of em?) and travel conditions.
Radio won't be left out either. Although legacy all-news station WWJ AM 950 in Detroit doesn't plan on adjusting its normal anchor schedule, they will be devoting a lot more resources than normal to provide coverage to this big weather event, providing around the clock information on what's going on with the storm including school and business closings and traffic updates. It's not clear yet if Detroit's WJR AM 760 plans on changing its normal daytime schedule that normally includes talk shows from Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to instead focus on storm impacts.
It wasn't all that many years ago that many normally music-focused radio stations would interrupt their normal routines during morning drive in order to provide long lists of school closings. While the Internet and school district initiated robo-calling has helped alleviate some of the demand for the reading of closing lists, it's a pretty safe bet that any radio program that's live and local tomorrow will spend a lot more time than normal on providing community information.
While there will always be those that complain that coverage of these kinds of events is nothing more than hyperbole, the bottom line is having radio and TV being able to react and report on these kinds of regional events is a great opportunity for them to shine and display the kind of professional community involvement that can never be duplicated.
The hard work that will be put in the next couple of days by those working in under-staffed TV news rooms and radio stations is duly noted and appreciated.