Surge in Louisville TV Watching Last Night

A tornado touched down in Indiana. PHOTO: WLKY

We had a significant weather event last night, a big cahuna that reminded us why local TV coverage is important. The timing of the storm, hitting around the time that late-night newscasts began, was ideal for local stations, which began three hours of wall-to-wall weather coverage that didn’t end until after 2.

And we found out that all is well again with the MetroSafe sirens. They went off around 11:30, and then one more time later in the night. When sirens didn’t go off during a previous weather event, it touched off a serious examination of how Metro Safe operates.

“Everything worked well last night,” said Fischer spokesman Chris Poynter “We were fully staffed at MetroSafe and we dodged the worst of the storm.”

For many people, a peaceful night was interrupted when the storm’s presence west of here became known. A lot of people went to sleep, were awakened by the sirens, and immediately turned on the TV. Ratings from 11 through 2 were in some cases three times higher than normal.

WLKY registered an 18.1 rating at 12:30, a time when it usually gets “4s and 5s” according to GM Glenn Haygood. The station’s Jay Cardosi spent all that time telling people in various neighborhoods when to go to their basements, which a lot of people did.

WAVE’s numbers also jumped at midnight, thanks in part, maybe, to the co-broadcast of Kevin Harned’s work on 84WHAS Radio. The audience at WHAS-TV dropped a bit at that hour, thanks in part to an audio problem which caused the station lost sound for a few minutes.

Of course, where I was, there wasn’t much actually happening outside. Southern Indiana got the worst of it, but a big chunk of Louisville was left with a pretty windy and warm night with a little rain mixed in.

But I’m not getting after the weather guessers here, or at the stations for hyping their coverage. They feel a responsibility to let people know when there’s danger out there, and produce the coverage without commercials.