A mighty wind

Ross Cavitt, WSB

Ross Cavitt, WSB

No two guys in Atlanta TV news love hurricanes more than Tony Thomas and Ross Cavitt.  Both men went to Louisiana to cover Gustav.  Ultimately, the story was one of a storm that bore little resemblance to Katrina, despite endless comparisons during the media build-up.

WSB’s Cavitt is also a meteorologist.  He gives his weather coverage a whiff of the scientific, without devolving into pocket-protector nerdiness.  Cavitt always plays up the human element, and he doesn’t sugarcoat the truth.  On Monday, he found a guy named Todd Browning who told WSB viewers “this really wasn’t a hurricane.”  This report shows Cavitt in full wind-blown glory.

Tony Thomas, WAGA

Tony Thomas, WAGA

WAGA’s Thomas isn’t a meteorologist.  He’s more of a human cannonball.  Thomas won three Emmys this year, two for weather coverage.  He’s the kind of guy who will lead his crew from hurricane to hurricane, stoically working double shifts for the sheer joy of being a TV guy.  It’s enough to make a grown man cry.

Like Cavitt, Thomas’s quest is for the spectacular video and the human story.  It’s the best reason to want to be in the middle of a hurricane.  Otherwise, it’s all about police roadblocks (that don’t always yield for media trucks), accommodations on the fly in power-less locales, and meals of QuickTrip taquitoes.  Plus, the wet clothes and body odor.  In other words, sheer misery.

(First hand, here are my top three overnight hurricane coverage accommodations:  Once, in the lobby of the Federal Reserve Bank of Miami; once in the back of an ambulance in a fire station in Niceville FL; once on a cot outdoors at an Army Air station in New Orleans; the latter two with this guy.)

CNN’s Jeanne Moos produced an amusing story spoofing the gusty antics of TV folks covering Gustav.  It’s worth watching for her treatment of Geraldo Rivera.

Here’s the downer:  WXIA sent no reporter to Gustav.  Yet their feed story Monday from an NBC guy had more diverse elements and was more completely told than either Cavitt’s or Thomas’s stories.  The reason:  Cavitt and Thomas are lone wolves.  They have too many deadlines and too many logistical hurdles (and no field producer working with them) to get copies of video from other sources.

The NBC guy also declined to use the phrase “we’re not out of the woods yet.”  We realize this cliche is like an old friend during hurricanes.  We’d like to hear it re-phrased.

If tropical storm Hanna continues its path for Tybee Island, don’t be surprised if Cavitt and Thomas show up there too.

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This entry was posted in cavitt, thomas, tony, WAGA, WSB on by .

About live apt fire

Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

4 thoughts on “A mighty wind

  1. atlbigear

    hurricanes are the only time that reporters regret lossing weight…

    how many times have they said “hunker down” by now?

    Reply
  2. spaceyg

    I know it’s not your beat here at LAF, but indie shooter/blogger/reporter Amani Channel has been doing lots of hurricane-related stuff at:
    http://www.myurbanreport.com/

    Being fully in this century, Channel has also been Tweeting on Twitter and doing live streams… all that new media bells and whistles that the folk under 40 love. Meanwhile, the offspring of Chris and Don delivers LAFires and roadkill updates to people bedridden in nursing homes…

    You tell me where you’d rather be if you were a young journalist, not just on “the talent” track for Viagra Nation.

    Reply
  3. Mike daly

    I still worry about the day when a reporter stands in too much wind, ala Jeff Flock, and gets whacked by a piece of wood, metal or glass flying a hundred miles an hour.
    It is one of the ultimate cat and mouse games, though. You wonder what you have to do to get to the right place at the right time for the best video and not get killed.
    You drive down the one lane in the highway going into the storm area while watching thousands of people evacuating in the opposite direction on the other side of the road. You cross bridges with high winds that rock your truck. You stay at the beach long after the cops have told you it’s in your best interest to leave. You hope the extra rain cover you duct taped to your camera will allow your gear to survive.
    You then struggle through the next few days of “Aftermath” coverage for the morning show, noon, five, six and ten after the adrenalin has worn off. If you are lucky, you will learn the true meaning of the “Eye of the Storm.” It’s the calm part and if you’ve ever watched the cloudless sky while listening to the back end of the storm approaching, you will have experienced one of the most eerie feelings you can imagine.

    Reply

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