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This Just In: Dec 12 - 19

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Stranded!

Summary: "Weather Watch 4" presents a hard-hitting expose on dead automobile batteries as part of its annual winter "panic theater." Station: WTAE Channel 4 Reporter: Marcie Cipriani, "Live" When it Aired: Dec. 6 Running Time: 1 minute, 30 seconds Visuals: * Staged scenes focusing on motorists trying to start their cars, to ... no avail! * The tagline, "stranded," under the names of two individuals whose fate lies in the hands of AAA. Highlights: * When Cipriani reports from the frozen tundra of Point Breeze: "A representative from AAA tells me they actually received twice as many calls this morning as they normally do. Most people waking up, heading outside, finding out that their locks are frozen or their cars dead." * When Cipriani begins her tale of woe: "The cold weather hit, and for some of us, everything stopped." * When a "stranded" woman reveals, "I came out this morning to start the car, and it wouldn't start and I knew it was the battery." * When a AAA serviceman describes his first encounter with the wintry beast: "My first call was a member whose door locks were frozen. And all I did was went out and spray some de-icer." * When we revisit our "stranded" femme fatale, who says, "It just got so cold this morning, and I knew I needed a new battery. I just was pushing it a little bit, I guess, so I got caught and now I'm gonna go and get a new battery." * When Cipriani cautions, "Maybe your car started this morning, maybe it's fine. But with these very cold temperatures, there's a chance it may not start tomorrow." What We Learned: Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. Unanswered Question: What are the chances that you won't do a story like this next week? News Value: 0 and falling.

Stranded! On Another Station!

Summary: Same story as above, but with a female service driver. Station: WPXI Channel 11 Reporter: Lori Houy When it Aired: Dec. 6 Running Time: 1 minute, 12 seconds Visuals: * A close-up of icicles hanging from a car bumper, so we know how cold it is. * Traffic crawling on a snowy Pittsburgh road. Highlights: * When Houy says, as we hear the rackety sounds of a woman trying to turn over her ignition: "This has been the call of the day for AAA. The same scenario played out over and over again for [this service driver] who repeatedly came to the rescue of stranded drivers." * When Houy asks the female service driver the question we've all been biting our nails over: "And the calls are mostly for?" AAA Lady answers, "A lot of batteries." * When Houy gives us the raw facts: "In most cases today, it was the frigid temperatures that drained the life out of weak batteries." * When a Mr. Happy Pants, whose car wouldn't start, asserts, "It's December; it's supposed to be cold. I don't think we have any right to complain, or certainly no right to be surprised." What We Learned: These dead-battery stories have drained the life out of me. Unanswered Question: Can things get any worse? (See next story!) News Value: 1, but only because I bet you didn't know women did this job.

Stranded! On Yet Another Station!

Summary: You guessed it -- now that the wintry blast that created the post-apocalyptic conditions in the first two stories has abated, we find out there's no parking on the Mon Wharf again. Station: KDKA's sister station, "Pittsburgh CW" Reporter: Bob Allen, "Live" When it Aired: Dec. 10 Running Time: 1 minute, 5 seconds Visuals: * Snow plows plowing, salt trucks being loaded, and a giant salt pile, ready and waiting. Highlights: * When, as a bunch of neurosis-inducing music plays, anchor Keith Jones forbodes, "A rainy forecast has our area at a risk of flooding * When Sonni Abatta chimes in: "Yeah, that's right, the Mon Wharf already closed this morning as a precaution." * When we go LIVE TO THE WHARF with Allen, who is standing in the dark mist and warns, "A combination of rain and melting snow are causing the rivers to rise. The National Weather Service has issued a flood advisory through Tuesday." * When Allen gives us more exciting facts -- "Flood stage along the wharf is expected to reach 19.5 feet. Right now, it appears the parking lot will be closed for about two days." * When he reassures us that "[t]his winter, the city has a number of new salt trucks on hand and lots of salt." What We Learned: You know you've hit the big time in the 'Burgh when you're covering the Wharf, baby. Unanswered Question: Who was the genius who put a parking lot there in the first place? News Value: 1. Stay tuned for more can't-miss coverage of weather coverage!

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