From where I sit On The Kowch, the 25th anniversary of the Fall of The Berlin Wall got me thinking back to my days at The Weather Network (TWN) as a part time weekend producer. The whole world was watching television coverage of the Wall coming down. No one was watching The Weather Network to find out what the weather was going to be later in the day.
I remember sitting in the TWN control room in Montreal looking at the monitors. There was a live shot of the studio with our anchor talking about high and low pressure systems across the country … clouds here … sunny there – a typical fall day across Canada. While in Berlin it was not a typical day at the Wall. On the other monitors, under clear sunny skies, were crowds standing on the wall waving flags while others on the ground were hacking chunks out of the wall or spray painting it.
That’s when I got the idea of how to bring The Weather Network in line with the rest of the TV networks and talk about the fall of the Berlin Wall. When I told the staff they looked at me like I was nuts.
“You know, this is The Weather Network, not the CBC,” said one staffer.
I sort of got the same reaction from the staff at MeteoMedia, the French side of The Weather Network. Except they said we weren’t “Radio Canada”.
But when I told them the focus of our story would be how the wall came down during a nice sunny day in Berlin, that caught their attention. My plan was simple: get me shots of the blue sky above the wall … shots of the sun beaming down on the crowds that had gathered to celebrate. While the film editors worked on that, I started writing the script for the news segment to be anchored (in French and English) by the weekend hosts. When I watched the segment live in master control, I knew we made the right call.
Normally, these news segments are about the weather or the environment. But on that day we were using the weather in Berlin to give us license to talk about the fall of the Berlin Wall on The Weather Network and MeteoMedia.
From where I sit On The Kowch, the lesson, here folks, is that we didn’t break format because our lead was about the weather in Berlin on the day the wall came down. Think outside the box. Relate the story to what viewers or listeners come to your TV or radio station for. People tune to The Weather Network or MeteoMedia for the weather. So we stretched it a bit. While the lead on the other networks was the wall was coming down, our anchor was saying “under sunny skies today in Berlin ….crowds have gathered to celebrate the wall coming down…”
Steve Kowch ran two of Canada’s largest newstalk radio stations in Montreal and Toronto for more than 14 years. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Making It BIG In Media
Contact Steve at 647-521-6397 or email firstname.lastname@example.org