TV Q&A: Why do local stations snub Erie weather?

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Post-Gazette TV writer Rob Owen answers reader questions online every Friday in Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv. Here's a selection of recent queries.

Q: Why do local station weather people completely ignore the "northern coast" of Pennsylvania when giving weather forecasts? I never see the name of Erie on the Pennsylvania map but daily see Cleveland, Buffalo, Akron, Indianapolis, Louisville listed on the wider map of the Eastern U.S. even though these cities do not receive KDKA as their local CBS affiliate. The same goes for WPXI and WTAE. Summertime is particularly bad when so many people in the Western Pennsylvania region have vacation cabins up north in the Erie region yet the weather up there is never mentioned unless there's a tornado or something bad heading south from there. Why such a stigma for the use of the word "Erie"?

-- Joe, 55, Pittsburgh

Rob: That is odd. I put the question to WPXI's Stephen Cropper, WTAE's Mike Harvey and KDKA's Jeff Verszyla, but only Mr. Verszyla responded.

"Erie is a separate television viewing market from Pittsburgh with three local Erie stations (WICU, WSEE, WJET)," he wrote. "My primary job and focus when formulating the daily forecast is for the Pittsburgh television viewing market. While, at times, a severe weather situation in a neighboring market may warrant coverage outside of the local Pittsburgh viewing market ... my regular focus will always be on local weather first."

This still doesn't explain why Erie would be excluded from maps that include Cleveland and Buffalo, except that it's a smaller city than those two.

Q: I have noticed the glitch on WTAE when they are about to go to local weather during "Good Morning America." If the glitch is caused by the switch from network to local production, why is it only occurring at 7:15 a.m.? They switch to local weather more than once per broadcast.

-- Dorothy, McKees Rocks

Rob: According to WTAE chief engineer Dave Kasperek, "A momentary time slip occurs every time we switch from 'GMA' to studio control room; whether the viewer sees or hears it is a different matter.

"Depending on what's occurring at the moment we switch, it could be virtually unnoticeable by the viewer. For example if we switch on a moment of silence or a still graphic image there would be nothing to see or hear out of time."

Q: What is the latest project for Cote de Pablo since she quit "NCIS"? Might there be a chance of her return to the show in the distant future?

-- Richard, 66, Monroeville

Rob: Like many actors who work 14- to 16-hour days nine months out of the year for multiple years in a row, Ms. de Pablo appeared to be taking a break after "NCIS." But IMDB.com shows she has a new project in the works: "The 33," a dramatic film about 33 Chilean miners trapped underground for 69 days.

And, yes, it's certainly possible she could return to "NCIS" the same way Jorja Fox came back to "CSI."

Q: When "Luck" was canceled last year for "humanitarian reasons," it was said to be filming its second season. If so, would there be a chance of those episodes ever being released? The show had one of the best casts ever assembled.

-- John, Roseville, Minn.

Rob: That seems like ideal material for a DVD release, but it wasn't included on the first-season release. I suppose anything is possible, but there doesn't seem to be much clamor for a re-release of that show on DVD. So I doubt it will happen. Also, it's entirely possible that the episodes, although filmed, were never assembled into any coherent form.

Q: My question is why Fox News Channel is not included in the Post-Gazette TV guide. The channel is listed with identifying numbers in the front of the TV magazine, but I went with my fingers down the listing and it is not included. Please ask the powers that be at the PG if this is their way of censoring what we watch.

-- Barbara, 65, Roscoe

Rob: We took ALL the cable news channels -- Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC -- out of TV Week several years ago when we had to make cuts to the listings for space. We chose cable news channels because their programming is the same day after day. The news channels are still included in the daily listings Monday through Saturday.

Ask TV questions at post-gazette.com/tv under TV Q&A (scroll down to find link on right side of the page).


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