Thunder was Like Watching Planes Fly


A friend of mine said no one would get the pun — that the WLKY-TV broadcast of Thunder over Louisville was so devoid of anything actually happening it was like watching paint dry, or planes fly. With a huge percentage of the planned air show canceled, the broadcast was left with a lot, A HUGE AMOUNT, it seemed, of time to fill.

So during the mid-afternoon, when I was watching, I was almost cringing for Vicki Dortch, who spent the afternoon anchoring the show with Rick Van Hoose on the Belvedere, stretching their segments and complaining about the cold. There were segments on the weather with Matt Milosevich, Eric King trying to coax people on the Waterfront to talk on the air and stay warm, Duane Pohlman got stuck reporting from an Indiana party (where he could at least go inside) and Natasha Collins had the plum assignment at the control room at the Galt House.

But despite what turned out to be great ratings, it probably wasn’t a huge success for WLKY. According to preliminary numbers, the broadcast peaked during the fireworks at 9:30 with a 31 share and 48 rating. Throughout the day, the number of TV watchers climbed steadily.

However, GM Glenn Haygood said on Friday that his team was forced to go to extraordinary lengths after flooding caused the base truck location under the 3rd Street ramp to be moved, causing a massive amount of re-engineering and extra cabling. The new twist for the show, an in-cockpit camera, may have been pretty cool but probably not utilized to its potential. I saw it once during the hours I watched.  Haygood said he wasn’t sure how much more the weather cost the station, but said he spared no expense in quality.

And what was scheduled to be an action-packed Thunderous broadcast turned out to be more of a Tent Avenue Freeze-out, though the party hosts on the River allowed no tents. (that pun I just couldn’t resist).

Another oddity in the media was at least one headline I saw that attempted to put a bright spin on a dismal day.  WAVE’s website headline was typical: “Thousands turn out for Thunder despite less than perfect weather.” Now that’s looking at the bright side.

WLKY-TV would likely have preferred that its turn in the Thunder broadcast rotation didn’t happen during the worst weather in the event’s history. There wasn’t even any post-Event traffic to report on. And about 500,000 people who would have been on the Waterfront found something else to do on Saturday.