Channel 5 weatherman Mike Stone has a tough job. When his Quadruple Doppler XL 3000 Mark 4 catches a tornado heading for Northeast Ohio, he must break into regular programming to warn viewers. Sometimes it's during Matlock. Sometimes it's during programming of grave national import, such as Game 4 of the Lakers-Pistons series last month.
Around 6 p.m., Stone interrupted a pregame interview with LeBron James to tell viewers they should head for their basements. This prompted a heated e-mail exchange with local hoops fan Chad Zumock.
Sunday, June 13, Zumock's e-mail to email@example.com: "Please quit cutting into the NBA Pistons-Lakers Finals with the redundant weather reports. We can see what's going on at the top of the TV screen, we don't need to interrupt the NBA game so you can get face time. Less Channel 5 interruptions . . . PLEASE!!!
Sunday, June 13, Channel 5's response from Mike Stone, who apparently thought this was a way cooler name than "Rick Steel": "Hate to break this to you, Chad . . . you missed about 15 seconds of programming. But, thanks for the support. If a tornado is on your street, I'll be sure to let everybody else see network programming instead."
Monday, June 14, Zumock returns fire: "Wrong Stone, you cut off the beginning of the LeBron James interview and the most of the pregame after that. As for your smart-ass comment about 'a tornado being on my street, you'll air network programming . . .' I don't think I'd be watching Channel 5 during a time of a tornado . . . you GLORY HOUND!!"
Tuesday, June 15, revenge of the Stonemeister: "I take people's safety very seriously and I pride myself in what I do. You need to realize people's lives are more important than a basketball game."
Thursday, June 24, Zumock's not done: "Give me a break Stone, who the hell do you think you are? You're a weatherman for Christ Sakes! Honestly, why are you still even emailing me?"
Stone admits he was a bit sarcastic in his first response, but claims the second was fabricated. (Zumock says he's lying.) Still, Stone says he was only doing his job. "Tornado safety is a matter of life and death . . . Believe me, breaking into a program -- especially one that a ton of people are watching -- isn't my idea of fun."
But Zumock has reason to be suspicious. Local TV news is forever trying to horn in on more popular national programming. And that night, the National Weather Service issued tornado watches only for Richland and Ashland counties, which are somewhere near Germany. The only confirmed touchdown was in Licking County, just north of Columbus.
More egregious was Stone's belief that safety's more important than basketball. This was Game 4, and the Pistons were pounding the evil Lakers. Surely it doesn't get more important than that -- except if he broke into 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.
The first rule of arena rock is knowing how to play to your audience. During its 67-year career, and subsequent 39-year farewell tour, Kiss has filled venues by knowing exactly what its fans want: explosions, fake blood, and Paul Stanley's constant reminders that [insert name of your city] is the best place Kiss has ever played.
But after 138 years on the road, Stanley appears to be losing it. Among his more memorable efforts to connect with the audience during last week's Blossom show:
· He declared that he goes so far back with Cleveland that he remembers when there was an Agora. (Note to Paul: There still is an Agora.)
· He remembers when WMMS played rock and roll. (Last we checked, it wasn't playing cool jazz.)
But the Star Child's oddest recollection came early in the set, as he recounted the band's stop in Pittsburgh two nights earlier (Rule 2: Never squander an opportunity to badmouth the host city's rival). With the crowd of 15,000-plus already worked into a lather, Stanley tried to take it a notch higher:
"They might have the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame," he shouted, "but you guys are more rock and roll!"
Ooops, musta been reading from the Pittsburgh script.
Clueless in Cowtown
Only the Ohio Department of Natural Resources believes that the best way to teach environmental stewardship is by trashing it.
That's the latest idea from the bright lights in Columbus, who are building a 560-acre "education center" that basically involves cutting down state forests. The site is supposed to teach people how to do logging. Some spots will see trees selectively cut. Others will be cleared of every living thing. But since this isn't exactly revolutionary science, does the state really need a 560-acre classroom to show what happens when you cut down trees?
"Do you want to look at a video, or do you want to be able to walk the land and see for yourself what the impact is like?" asks Assistant Chief of Forestry Andy Ware. "To get the smell and sound of the woods?"
Okay, he has a point. Nothing says nature better than the smell of gasoline and the sound of chainsaws.
Lost in translation
Urban Dialect is taking a yearlong vow of silence. After recently celebrating its first anniversary, the monthly magazine embarked on a one-year hiatus to examine how it can go national, according to Publisher Daniel Gray-Kontar.
It's a big goal for a magazine that barely survived the rigors of Cleveland. Urban Dialect averaged revenues of about $5,500 per issue and circulated at most 7,500 issues per month, says Gray-Kontar.
Still, the relentlessly upbeat publisher cites Alternative Press as evidence that a Cleveland mag can succeed on the national stage. "Models for us are magazines like Bitch, Wax Poetics, Trace, and a few others," he says. "They print nationally, but they print a relatively small number -- between 3,500 [and] 10,000 issues. But they reach a very specific target readership nationwide that's attractive to niche advertisers."
But whatever those advertisers are selling, Urban Dialect staffers won't be able to buy it. They don't get paid. Which means they'll have to add a vow of poverty to the vow of silence.
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