Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rob Lowe doesn't hate us - he feels our pain

Rob Lowe as Terry Dullum.

What a difference a day makes. 

Why, it seems like just yesterday that I was pissed off at Minneapolis CBS affiliate WCCO for ruining the Tony Awards with painful scrolls, maps, beeps, and trolls.

There weren't actually trolls, but it's a nice rhyme that summarizes how I felt at the time: like little, hairy dwarves had broken into my house and were biting me as I tried to enjoy a little song and dance.

I got a little bounce from the rant, but nothing like when Winnipeg-visitor and Hollywood celebrity Rob Lowe got pissed off about the same thing. He tweeted something about being in a "hellhole" because Grand Forks' ABC affiliate WDAZ interrupted a basketball game with local election results.

Our local media is so used to the "xxxx hates Winnipeg" story, it replaced "xxxx" with "Rob Lowe" and ran with it.

But, no, Rob Lowe doesn't hate Winnipeg. You'll find that he actually hates WDAZ for cutting into his basketball game with its local election results. He's not mad at us, he feels our pain!

We Winnipeggers are so used to this stuff from our U.S. stations, we've somehow started to think that it's our lot in life to put up with the never-ending thunderstorm watches, program break-ins, and Terry Dullum's "slightly off-the-wall observations" on the WDAZ evening news.

I'm not suggesting the election results aren't important: to the good people of Grand Forks, they clearly are. But - as I said in my last rant - this kind of news is what Twitter and the radio are for.

If these results were so important to WDAZ, why didn't it interrupt advertising instead of program content? Turns out there was something more important than the election results: paid ads.

So to our fine affiliate to the south, I offer some friendly advice: before you break into regular programming, simply ask yourself this question: "Would I throw a rock through my TV screen if I sat down to watch my favorite show and saw this instead?"

In return for doing this small thing, we'll take your tired, poor huddled cases of Cherry Dr. Pepper yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your Olive Garden, the homeless Cinnabons, and everything else that NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg hates, and we'll bring them back to Canada as we lift our lamps beside your golden door!


By the way, Rob Lowe and I were wondering: who won the election?


  1. Not everyone has a computer to see the udpates. If you have such a problem with OUR LOCAL NEWS don't watch it. Maybe you could find the game online somewhere?

    1. I wasn't watching basketball, actually, and don't care about it at all. My beef is with local affiliates breaking into scheduled programming when there are other alternatives. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Embarrassed For YouJune 13, 2012 at 11:25 PM

    Do you realize free TV is paid for by advertising? These stations are put on your cable system as a public service to you. Next time you receive your WDAZ or WCCO bill in the mail don't pay it. Is everyone from Winnipeg as damn whiny as Rob Lowe? Get your stupid basketball scores or tony updates from the internet if it's so much better. Enough with the complaining!

    1. Hi, Mr. For You.

      This post isn't about how advertising works, it's about local stations cutting into previously scheduled event programming when there are alternatives. That the station in question breaks in during programming and not ads, I think, is indicative of its allegiances - right or wrong.

      If my post and Rob Lowe are "damn whiny" (and, yes, I agree that I'm nothing if not that!) then how do you view the comment that you've left here as being any different?

      Thanks for the feedback!

  3. It's "Ms. For You" BTW.

    You just love making assumptions don't you? We apparently live in different worlds you and I. I don't have cable and rely on free "over-the-air" TV, if I have time for it at all. My only choice is local affiliates. WDAZ as the case may be, is part of my local community. When they cut into programing with this dreaded breaking news you hate so much, it's usually important to me. This primary election everyone is complaining about affected me directly. There were a number of local elections and important statewide measures up for a vote. It brought record numbers of people to the polls. My husband enjoys basketball, so we were watching the game that night. When the local station cut in with a Very Brief Update, we didn't throw a hissy fit, we listened intently for the current results. The game came back, and life went on. I'm sure just as many people, if not more would have thrown a fit if they had to sit in front of a computer, or dig out a smart phone to search for this information. Not everyone is a connected internet genius such as yourself. I am, but I also think of others before opening my mouth to make sounds come out. My tenor as you put it, was not about losing a moment of a precious TV show. It was about people taking to the internet so they can bitch and moan about things others rely on. If a storm is coming I want to hear about it. A tornado isn't going to wait for a commercial break. You're being rather self-centered if you think people who belong to these local stations don't need or want this information. The world doesn't revolve around you and Winnipeg. The internet is supposed to bring people from around the world together. You seem to think it's your job to communicate with them and insult their small piece of it. You're not only insulting WDAZ, you're insulting my community. Instead if contributing to the world, bloggers often end up looking like walled-up closed-minded people. Think about that before you start complaining about something online. That about sums up my "tenor". I don't really want to get into the aspects local affiliates, the networks, and contractual obligations to run those advertisements you'd rather dismiss. Without ads airing, there wouldn't be any free TV. Catching up on shows with YouTube (I use Hulu) is not hard. If the culture of free TV isn't for you, watch something else. Your profile connected to this blog says you're in advertizing. Are you concerned how your clients or potential clients would view your opinions here? Since you got all twisted up about me not leaving a name, it's Lauran Murphy. I realize I may be contradicting myself with continuing to complain about your complaining. Lucky for you and any readers, my bitch fest is over. Now please turn off the television, walk away from the computer, leave the phone on the table and go outside. I do it all the time. It's awesome!

  4. I have fond memories of WDAZ.

    Sure, U.S. television (and U.S. culture) always threatens to become so ubiquitous we stop noticing. But it can also be a driver of Canadian culture. The best arguments for arts funding here at home is that they serve as an equalizer - a different kind of department of defense against a different kind of invader.

    But in the context of a massive culture war, WDAZ always seemed, when I was a kid, to be a remote outpost on the frontier. It was our exposure to real America, not the America we saw in the movies. It had those too, but it also had cheap-ass commercials, just like home. None of that fancy, Mel Farr Superstar stuff we saw from the Detroit stations, with their spectacular animation and whiz-bang special effects. No, the ads you saw from the Devil's Lake business were those ones with the static shot of a building or someone smiling while a voice actor would read the address at top speed, squeezing a 16-second script into 15 seconds.

    It was like staring down the Great and Powerful Oz and noticing some movement behind the curtain. WDAZ wasn't an American station. These guys were just like us: a little downtrodden, abandoned and forgotten about as the American Woman went and sparkled someone else's eyes.

    But they were also heroic. I remember a certain sense of pride in the wayward station Winnipeg had adopted, when WDAZ won the Edward R. Murrow award for staying on the air when Grand Forks was evacuated during the flood of '97.

    But we have to remember, WDAZ is not our child. Somewhere out there, in that mysterious place called Devil's Lake, a small group lost, alienated souls need to reaffirm their own culture by interrupting coverage of a big, American sporting event with its own local election.

    Bravo, WDAZ.


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