Tampa/St. Petersburg’s 24 hour cable news channel, Bay News 9, is making a major investment in its weather coverage, with the debut of the very Star Trek-sounding Klystron 9 system. According to a story on Bradenton.com, the new radar, based on technology used in the space program and various military applications, employs a million watts of power.
“With Klystron, we have jumped the curve,” said Bob Baron, president and chief executive officer for Baron Services, the Alabama company that built and installed Bay News 9’s new system. “It has more power, more precision and more capability than any other commercial Doppler weather radar in the world.”
Bay News 9 declined to say how much the company spent on the Klystron, but did suggest the investment was intended to give the cable channel the edge over competitors during tropical weather.
In discussions on LinkedIn and Twitter, many have suggested that weather remains one of local TV’s most powerful weapons, and especially in markets like Tampa/St. Pete, viewership during serious storms can be reminiscent of the old pre-cable days.
There’s no debating the migration of news consumers from mainstream TV to the internet for news, entertainment and social networking. But when a potential hurricane or winter storm threatens, do people really run to the computer? Or do they fall back into that age-old habit of sitting in front of the TV, with a trusted face and reassuring voice carefully going through radar loops and computer models? I get most of my news off the web. But in Miami, when there’s a storm, I’m as old-fashioned as they come, and I want to see someone familiar (sorry, this is where the cute weather girls come up short) give it to me straight.
Thoughts? Has anyone seen new media compete with local TV in times of severe weather?