If wild weather enters the St. Louis area over the weekend, it could lead to a stormy reaction from local golf fans trying to watch the PGA Championship.CBS has the telecast of the meat of the final two rounds, on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and its local affiliate, KMOV (Channel 4), makes weather an integral part of its marketing plan by going into “Storm Mode” when inclement weather is in the offing and has “4 Warn” forecasts even on days when there is nothing to warn about.But when warnings are issued, the screen becomes occupied by a map highlighting the counties that are affected to accompany a “crawl” of streaming across the bottom with a text version of the information. It also has radar.
That’s fine during newscasts and scripted programming but can cause big problems with sporting events.KMOV general manager Mike Murphy said weather takes priority again this weekend even though the PGA Tournament is in town, but said the station might be more judicious.“We won’t change our policy for any reason,” he said. “If a tornado is barreling through St. Louis, we will be on wall to wall. It’s just what we do.”It’s safe to say that if a tornado is threatening the metro area, play probably will be halted because the course where the tourney is being played, Bellerive Country Club, is in the heart of St. Louis County. So viewers wouldn’t miss anything. But what if there is a less threatening situation, such as a severe thunderstorm warning in a distant county? And the possibility of storms is in the weekend forecast.
“If there are severe storms we will be as sensitive to the golf broadcast as we can, with minimum interruptions, but never sacrificing anyone’s safety,” Murphy said.
Sometimes it appears no one at the station is looking at what the audience is seeing, because of the placement of the graphics. That was the case two weekends ago, when the weather map appeared during CBS’ Sunday golf coverage and at times obscured part of the leaderboard, and even the ball and hole.It certainly is aggravating to hear about a great shot but not see the ball go in the hole. What about doing away with the map, which other than showing radar provides a lot of the same information on the bottom of the screen?KMOV chief meteorologist Steve Templeton said the station figures to be more apt to remove it this weekend than at other times.“We can take the map down,” he said. “And if a certain (distant) town is affected, we could wait until a stoppage in play and pop in for 30 seconds” with the information.”Added Murphy: “We don’t sacrifice safety for convenience. It just depends what’s going on and how severe the weather is.”