Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tornados, Paper Puppets and Public Broadcasting

This is Severe Weather Awareness Week.

Today the sirens will sound throughout Minnesota at 1:45 pm and 6:55 pm for tornado drills.

Last year about 5 miles south of my home in Forest Lake a violent tornado tore through the town of Hugo, about 5:00 pm on May 25, 2008.

I watched the storm approaching from the window on the second floor looking south. The sky was dark and menacing around 4:45 and my roommate with her three year old daughter were on the road just east of Hugo, attempting to drive home.

The wind was very strong and gusting, the clouds became a dark green, indicating hail, and I was very concerned for their well being.

I knew that I could get more detailed information from the public broadcasting system channel 17 Doppler radar display.

This is part of their "public service" on the "public airways".

I turned on the television. Boy was I wrong.

Instead of the crucial and timely information I was expecting to receive, I was frustrated to see what was being displayed was not the radar that the channel was established to provide the public, but a children's program called "Donna's Day".

Apparently the creation of paper bag puppets and "children friendly" broadcasting had eventually became the more important function of this Public Broadcasting Channel than the original reason given for the establishment of this additional TPT Channel. (Twin Cities Public Television... not Toilet Paper Television)

I called my roommate on her cell phone. She said she had stopped driving and was parked under a tree, seeking some shielding from the hail.

I could here the baseball sized hail hitting her station wagon and I could hear the child screaming in the background.

I was very frustrated in that I did not know the details of the storm and its track... Then the sirens started.

The private news stations were broadcasting information but I wanted more detailed, real time radar over some time to see the drift and trend of the storm. They showed the radar, but also more general storm related reports from throughout the region.

I told her to sit it out, if I knew more I would have told her to drive East.

Her windows were smashed, she barely made it home two hours later.

That tornado, an EF-3 with winds of 136 to 165 miles an hour tore into a Hugo housing development, destroyed dozens of homes and killed one young child.

The public broadcasting folks seem to think these channels are their own little broadcasting system. Useful to air their "green" programs, child "friendly" programing (that they say is unavailable on private TV stations), political reporting, and their behavior and thought modifying "educational" programs.

Once again the arguments made in the Legislature to justify these DFL projects are just, as the late Democrat Senator Daniel PatrickMoynihan called it, "Boob Bait For The Bubbas".

Rhetoric to placate the normal Minnesotan, that can be ignored later once the project is established.

Then they can do what they really intended, as normal folks don't have the time or inclination to follow up on such things.

The Radar Channel should be broadcasting the Radar data, if we wanted Laurence Welk we would borrow grandmas phonograph thank you very much.

TPT used to run with the phrase "If we don't do it, who will?"

I can get "Donna's Day" at the movie rental, thank you.

If you tell me and my fellow Minnesotans you need this channel and broadcasting equipment to provide radar data for public safety, then that is what we should be receiving.

Especially in the middle of a Tornado.

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