Long-time readers will know of my affinity for the music played on the Weather Channel’s Local on the 8s until its relaunch earlier this year. I’ve been slowly curating a Spotify playlist with many of the songs played over the years on The Weather Channel; it is remarkable just how much is out there.
The Weather Channel’s only showing a standard satellite “local forecast” right now, in a loop…they’re not even playing music (not even Trammell Starks!). Earlier it was a black screen with an intermittent jazz tune. Talk about a real case of the Mondays!
The Weather Channel’s days as a privately owned cable network are numbered. There’s a lot of wondering why they’re up for sale for as much $5 billion. They certainly have prime-time Web real estate (weather.com), but I think people underestimate their IntelliStar platform. The IntelliStar, the latest iteration of the computer which serves up that Local on the 8s you’ve come to know and love over the years, is secretly one of the better advertising platforms out there on cable. Check out this Broadcasting & Cable piece from 2004, when IntelliStar was introduced. In short, the computer can serve up commercials based on weather conditions you may be experiencing. Now, imagine this technology licensed out. It’s amazing they haven’t done that yet…and one almost wonders if they’ve missed the boat. Cable isn’t exactly what it used to be on an excitement scale as far as a media delivery platform.
October has finally arrived, 11 days into the calendar month. It actually feels like October now. Apparently it’s going to feel even cooler than that, with temperatures expected to plunge into the lower to mid 50s. That’s quite a downshift from the mid-70s lows we had just a few days ago. The first part of October was definitely insane, temperature-wise. I don’t know how anybody took it.
With the cooler weather settling in, I’ve noticed my fall/winter playlist is starting to emerge. Heavy doses of 2000-2001 era Ryan Farish and a sizable helping of Trammell Starks are becoming the order of the day. BTW, The Weather Channel released a compilation of smooth jazz tunes used over the years during the Local Forecasts. I don’t know how I feel about the song selection. I sure can’t remember “Holding Hands” by Ryan Farish ever being used on the channel (then again, I barely watch it anymore). Kudos to them for including some 3rd Force from 1994, but I would have liked to see a few more oldschool classics. What about Carmel by Joe Sample? Valley in the Clouds by David Arkenstone? Those tunes helped define TWC in “the good ol’ days.”
While I’m on this bizarre Weather Channel tangent, expect a new look for the Local Forecast next Tuesday. TWC is beta-testing a new look for the IntelliStar local forecast insertion machines in about three locations this week, with nationwide release slated for next week. Beyond the look, which does a respectable job of finally putting to bed the six-year-old design for the titlebars, little has changed to the system itself, aside from one thing. Somehow, they’ve found a way to make the IntelliStar even more annoying — in the text forecast area, where the robot voice (Allan Jackson, NOT the country artist) narrates the forecast, they now have sound effects to indicate rainy weather if that’s what’s forecasted. While the graphic that comes with the text forecast is useful for illustration purposes, the sound effect is completely distracting and has to go. Everyone I’ve shown it to seems to hate it. Let’s hope they eliminate it and don’t add more sound where is necessary.
First, a quick game of What’s Wrong With This Video? Keep in mind, it’s not altered in any way, shape, or form, other than being compressed to a manageable size and put on YouTube.
In terms of Weather Channel history, May 7, 2007 is a day that will forever live in infamy. Sometime in the evening, The Weather Channel shut off the computer-generated narration (the robot voice that I imitate oh-so-well) on the IntelliStar and Weather Star XL units nationwide and switched their Local Forecast playlist to — shudder — vocal music. Is this the demise of the smooth jazz that has marked the 8s of every hour for the last decade? It’s unfathomable. The last known true vocal song to air on The Weather Channel was a Willie Nelson song around Christmas 1983. 23 years later, there have been reports of Nickelback being played on the Local Forecast. Freaking NICKELBACK. And after watching a couple forecasts with the new vocal playlist, it becomes plainly obvious why TWC has played instrumental music — this new stuff just totally overwhelms the presentation! Music for The Weather Channel is designed to simply be background music, because the important part is the forecast, not necessarily what’s in the background (though they play some pretty nice jams, I must say). The common thread, though, is that the music is not supposed to overwhelm — and Chad Kroeger barking out over the forecast certainly does.
I was never a fan of the narration on the Weather Star XL or the IntelliStar, but this is most definitely not the way I wanted to see it retired. Let’s hope TWC is back to their senses tomorrow morning…
Update: As of the 1:08 Local Forecast, things are back to normal. I hope TWC never does this again.
As Van Halen once sang…summer’s here, and the time is right, for dancing in the streets. While dancing in the streets will probably land me a free ride in the back of a Crown Victoria courtesy of Charleston’s Finest, summer is, for all intents and purposes, here. At least for me.
Upon completion of my last exam of the semester, I spent my first hours of “technical” summer in After Effects, whipping up an emulation of the old Weather Channel Weather Star XL (one of the iterations of computers that inserts your local forecast) from 1999. Incidentally, the video is also acting surprisngly well as a very effective form of birth control — they see it, they run, no chance of pregnancy.
Speaking of The Weather Channel, today is the channel’s 25th anniversary. The Weather Channel launched on May 2, 1982, to a largely stunned television audience. Little did they know that four years into their run they would have created a monster. :) Needless to say, it worked out, and I bet there are most people who wouldn’t know what to do without it. Check out their first minute on air and some of their other old stuff. If you are really curious, I point you toward TWC Classics — they’ve got some ridiculously awesome footage of old-school Weather Channel…if you’re into that, of course. :)
I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the summer. I’m working a lot, that much is certain. I’m still trying to get it all figured out. By the time I get it figured out, school will be starting again. Such is the cycle. I know I’m going to enjoy it, though. I need to. I’m not moving this summer, which is a major plus.
Random factoid: I’ll be 23 in 20 days. Insane. Where does the time go?
Also, later today will be The Great Biannual E-mail Dig-Out. I just got overly distracted yesterday in After Effects to the point where my computer actually beeped at me, kind of like digitally crying “uncle.”
See you all later today.
I went to bed at 9PM Sunday night…and awoke at 1AM. I wanted to stop my music, but I got into an IM on Windows Live…and yeah. I’m still up. I did some assorted Flash work, and also found my state tax return came in today. Additionally, the Samsung BlackJack I ordered Saturday will be arriving sometime today. :) I got an e-mail from Cingu — erm — The New AT&T™ with the terms of my renewed contract, and it seems they kinda messed up my order (I wanted them to drop my Media Works bundle in favor of the data connect plan). I’m going to have to deal with that. The phone should be sweet, though. More on that in a later post.
So, for the first (and possibly last) time this year, I’m watching First Outlook on The Weather Channel, and I am extremely disappointed that Bob Stokes is filling in for Jen Carfagno…because hey, Jen Carfagno is a babe. LV.
I went up to my parents’ house on Sunday, and my dad and I went through the latest Consumer Reports, which is a big car issue this month. We were both shocked that not a damn one of the so-called American automakers actually produce their vehicles in America. They’re all farmed out to Mexico and Canada. It’s amazing how many more so-called imports are actually built here (including the Toyota Camry). It’s just strangely ironic, isn’t it?
This week will be in stark contrast to last week in terms of stress: I’m on Spring Break, and I managed to land this week off from work. Thus, I’ll be sparse in cyberspace (though I still have a ton of e-mail to catch up on from the whole busy crush). Good, good times.
Random insomnia-borne observations:
- A couple days after realigning the room, I’m really a big fan. Why didn’t I do it this way the first time?
- I tried to watch Abrams & Bettes on The Weather Channel last night. Couldn’t do it. I like both their personalities, but I can’t watch the show. Something about it seems really forced, like they’re trying to crowbar a newscast into a lineup full of…newscasts. So, they make it extra newscasty, which, in my mind, just doesn’t seem to work. Watching A&B made me long for the days of the early-to-mid ’90s again.
- I remember the last time a pitcher went to an NL West team for over $100 million. What are the odds of Barry Zito turning out like Kevin Brown in San Francisco? Zito’s magic avoidance of injury thus far in his career has been impressive, but any guy with a hook like he has is asking for arm problems down the road. The Giants paid a lot of money and once again took this offseason to ridiculously new heights, as if that was even possible. A pitcher the likes of Johan Santana should easily command $20-$25 million a year now on the free agent market. Look for small market teams to be much more guarded with their farm systems as the years roll on.
- Nothing says Christmas like marshmallow-stuffed snowmen. Nothing.
- Vacations that take a lot of work and are over-planned totally defeat the purpose, IMO. I’ve been talking to a friend for a few days who has been absolutely exhausted from her vacation in Florida, which was planned out point by point. What’s the point of a vacation where one MUST be up at 9:30 every morning? That’s low value. This friend is now taking a vacation from vacations.
- Brian Goode’s calling it: Rain on New Year’s Eve. It’s looking pretty solid for that, too. The more I think about it, the more likely I am to stay in at this point, though wandering to a random bar to be selected is not totally out of the question (unless someone wishes to kindly save me from this kind of low value fate).
- I signed into Classmates for the first time in about a year and a half this weekend, and was reminded why I stayed away in the first place: Errors, ads, and then not being able to do anything without paying a fee…in other words, it’s totally incompatible with Web 2.0. Facebook and MySpace effectively render sites like Classmates pretty much obsolete thanks to their unbridled FREE accessibility and more expressive profile options.
- I’m looking forward to the new semester, real bad. I’m in several media courses and am really looking forward to getting into the meat of the major.
- If you have LiveJournal, I’ve got The Blog crossposting to mine now. Add me to your friends list if you like. :)
- Finally…I have a lot of work to do in Flight Simulator 2004. I’ve been struggling badly with my landings…
It’s bedtime for real now, before the sun comes up. :) Later folks.
I came to a realization pretty much out of nowhere tonight: I need to learn how to dance. I’m really starting to come to the conclusion that this skill could be incredibly useful. Currently my only reactions to music are bobbing my head and, in the case of certain techno songs, moving my hand up and down slightly in reaction to the beat. Some songs, such as “Embrace” from Ryan Farish’s Selected Works package, feature a subtle record-scratching phenomenon that I attempt to replicate as well. In other words, as I walk down Calhoun Street listening to my iPod, I’m sure I make plenty of people nervous. Learning to dance as a normal person — i.e. not appearing as if I’m suffering from a seizure — could be useful in further advancing my social life.
Tonight I’ll be attending a seminar concerning crisis communication. I’ll be very curious to see if the Internet is mentioned at this seminar, because as we saw a month ago with the impending landfall of Tropical Breeze Ernesto, the blogs came alive and often outperformed the “traditional” media outlets (television in particular) on delivering the facts in a short period of time. If the Internet doesn’t enter the conversation — which, honestly, I’d be surprised if it were left out — I will make sure to bring it up.
On an extremely nerdy note, The Weather Channel playlist this month is one of the best I’ve heard in a long time. I’ve heard two selections from the new Ryan Farish album Everlasting, including “Together We Will Conquer” and “Young At Heart.” Plus, it appears “Last Train Home” by the Pat Metheny Group is in the list this month, which is awesome. I have yet to hear it in the Local Forecast but that song is one of my favorite jazz compositions.
I hope everyone enjoys their Thursday — one more day until Friday…
The Weather Channel did a fantastic job overhyping and generally freaking out about Tropical Storm Alberto, including switching their website and TV coverage to “Storm Alert Mode,” previously reserved for category three or higher hurricanes. They’re doing the same about Tropical Storm Beryl, sending veteran storm tracker Jim Cantore to hell and back (or, from Nags Head, NC to Chatham, MA) to cover a 60 MPH tropical storm. Cantore even admitted tonight on Evening Edition that it wasn’t going to be a major problem, aside from more rain on a soaked Northeast and some additional wave action along the coast. Beryl is not even expected to make landfall or even have tropical characteristics by the time it reaches up there. However, as a precautionary measure, the National Hurricane Center has posted tropical storm watches along the Northeast coast…hence, the producers of the Weather Channel sending it into “hurricane mode.”
Another thing — wouldn’t it be a given that a channel called The WEATHER Channel would be a good source of information on hurricanes? Why do they have to keep reinforcing before every local forecast that they’re “The Hurricane Authority?” Are they really that scared of CNN’s “Hurricane Headquarters?”
The Weather Channel built its reputation on solid, sensation-free weather reporting, forecasts, and information for 20 years. It seems in the last few years they’ve decided to pretty much abandon that model to pander to “panic mode” every time someone twirls a tornado tube. As a long-time fan of TWC (read: literally since birth, ask my friends), I’m very, very disappointed, especially this year.