Whether we call them weathermen, meteorologists, forecasters or -- based on what's happening outside at the time, an expletive -- the guys who stand in front of the maps on the local news take a lot of abuse.
Some of it is good-natured. Some of it is funny. Some of it is mean-spirited, bordering on cruel.
When the chips are down, though, we need them.
Last night, when severe weather ripped through the area, I flipped around from station to station and watched the pros at work. Almost all of the folks on duty were on the air practically non-stop, explaining the ominous blobs on the radar screen, giving warnings as they came in and imparting information about what happened, what was happening and what was going to happen.
As someone who dabbles in broadcasting, I have an idea how tough that gig can be. Everyone I watched did an outstanding job.
Fortunately, my area was spared the brunt of the storm, though the tornado warning sirens did sound for a little bit. My little one, who is approaching double-digits in age and probably needs a new moniker in blogs like this, was quite frightened and begged me to turn off the "scary" reports.
I tried to explain to her how it was important to keep up with what was happening. I tried to tell her about the science of storms and forecasting and how -- even though it was a bit frightening -- what the people on TV were talking about was important because viewers knew not to leave their homes and to head to the basement if they were in the path of the storm.
By the time the sprout realized that we were safe and our relatives around the area were going to be OK, too, I was glad that we had these folks on the job.
Now, I'm still going to ridicule them for the overblown "stormageddon" coverage of a two-inch dusting of snow. But, we needed information last night and the pros came through.
Special kudos to the reporters playing the role of storm chasers, checking out the damage and letting us know what was happening in areas impacted by the storm. Again, I'll make fun of the "I'm standing in front of the salt pile ..." stories in the winter, but there was some risk involved last night and they rose to the task.
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.