By Craig Koplien Special to Published Jan 17, 2011 at 2:29 PM

I think we can all agree that over past five years or so, weather coverage on local TV stations has ramped way up.

I used to be squarely in the middle of this as my former employer and the other Milwaukee television stations adopted a strategy of extensive (excessive?) coverage of snowstorms and thunderstorms. Upon recognizing that extensive (excessive?) weather coverage leads to high ratings, stations have made weather a more prominent part of the news any time snow or rain is expected.

Over the past year or two, there's been blow-back. A growing number of vocal viewers are making noise about there being too much hype for weather situations that don't warrant it.

At least one of our local TV stations has been trying to capitalize on this. You may have seen commercials for Fox 6 weather with the line, "Be prepared, not scared." To me, there's little doubt that this is a subtle (blatant?) attempt to win over viewers who think that weather coverage on the other stations has gone too far.

Now, a counter-punch has been thrown. TMJ4 is airing a new commercial, which, in essence, says "weather IS a big deal, and we don't apologize for how we cover (over-cover?) it."


On the one hand, I've heard from countless people who believe local TV news has played the "this is going to be a HUGE storm" card far too often. On the other hand, I am a personal witness to how ratings spike for newscasts that play up weather events. For all of the hand-wringing about overdone weather coverage, there are a large number of viewers out there whose hands remain un-wrung.

I can assure you of this: ratings are king. As long as something, anything, gets high ratings, it's not going away. So for those of you who think that our local TV stations over-hype weather, the question is: are you watching anyway? If you are, you are feeding the beast from which you are trying to escape.

Fox 6 is betting that it can convince those who think TMJ4 goes overboard that it is the station for proper weather perspective and tone. TMJ4 is betting that those who complain about overblown weather coverage are a vocal minority.

Which side are you on?

Craig Koplien Special to

Craig is a meteorologist who was born and raised in Pewaukee. After getting a degree in Meteorology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he worked over 20 years on TV and radio in Milwaukee, Madison, Omaha, Nebraska and Kansas City, Missouri.

Craig spends most of his time trying to keep up with his bride and their three teenage daughters. Any time left over is spent with his other beloveds, the Packers, Brewers and Badgers.