Let me let you in on a professional secret when it comes to managing the news media.
If in the near future you feel like committing a major crime — say robbing a bank in broad daylight — try to do so when there’s a little bit of rain in the weather forecast.
Your misdeeds likely will go completely unnoticed. Worst case scenario, you’ll get five seconds of coverage right before they throw it back to some blonde in a slicker standing in .00002 inches of rainwater beside McDowell Road.
“The monsoon is rolling in!” our intrepid reporter will explain to the news anchors, who will nod along in deep concern as she dips a $700 high heel into a puddle the size of a Frisbee.
Then they’ll cut to the weatherperson to give us “The Galaxy’s Most Accurate Weather Forecast,” complete with lots of rolling green and yellow storm clouds and a “Futurecast”—which sounds cool but is no different from what meteorologists have been calling a “forecast” for the past 50 years.
Every local TV station has a weather gimmick nowadays—and more monsoon coverage than ever.
Channels 3 and 5, which have no less than six people covering the weather — compared to one on the government and politics beat — bills itself as “Arizona’s Weather Authority.” ABC15 has the “Desert Doppler Most Accurate Forecast.” Fox 10 has “AccuWeather.” And over at Channel 12, the local NBC affiliate will offer you “a live look at the Storm Team Radar.”
I’m looking forward to the Storm Team donning capes and masks and performing real-time rescues the next time the monsoon delivers flash flooding.
Look, I understand that the monsoon represents the only stretch of interesting weather the Valley gets.
Some moisture blows in from the west, the humidity rises and we have some relatively nasty thunderstorms.
We even get the occasional massive haboob dust cloud—fun to look at and even more fun to say. But all this fuss over what typically amounts to about three or four inches of rain each summer? Give me a break.
You know how I prepare for the monsoon each year?
I remind myself to consume even less local news than usual from June through about mid-September. I buy extra deodorant and cologne. I stay away from linen clothing — too sweaty — and I never, ever drive into flooded washes or around road barricades.
The last point is especially significant, because if there’s one thing local news loves more than “Weather Watcher Sally from Sun City sending in this picture of a tree down in her front yard,” it’s some schmuck sitting on the roof of his submerged Prius waiting for firefighters to come pluck him out of the drink.
I have nightmares where I’m the stupid motorist who makes the news for being charged under the stupid motorist law.
Clearly, someone believes there’s an audience for this much weather coverage, because TV mega-conglomerates focus-group this stuff to death and decipher the Nielsen ratings like they contain a cure for cancer.
What strikes me as strange is that while monsoon weather coverage seems to occupy half the newscasts most summer days, no one I know talks about the weather for longer than about 30 seconds, barring being trapped in a hurricane, a tsunami or a tornado.
To me, monsoon weather represents the Kim Kardashian of news coverage. I’m aware it exists. Sometimes I even pause to look at it for a second. But it serves no truly useful purpose and I can’t fathom what all the freaking fuss is about.