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Going to The Dogs

One second we were watching Ch. 4's Lisa Flynn--as pleasant a sight as there is on Ch. 4 News--and the next, she was unceremoniously replaced in mid-report by that thoroughly obnoxious commercial that begins with a dog cleaning his nether parts on the rug.

What followed, on Tuesday's 5:30 p.m. newscast on Ch. 4, was 16 straight minutes of commercials, promotional spots and PSA's (Public Service Announcements) which is, it seems to me, the local record. After seven or eight minutes, a crawl explained that Ch. 4 was having "technical difficulties."

I have, off and on, been writing about TV for this newspaper since 1969, in one capacity or another but so help me, I never saw anything quite like this before (anyone else? Share your horror stories.)

What happened, according to WIVB uber-honcho Chris Musial, was "we had a problem with one of our computer servers that connects the newsroom with other servers used to get our programming on the air. Simple terms, it crashed. We had to run just under 16 minutes of filler material while our engineers fixed the problem."

One of Ch.4's on-air people put it even more simply: the "automated switching system (went) into a freeze on both its primary and backup systems. A rare confluence of two failures at once."
Years ago, such switchings were done by human brains and fingers and such things just didn't happen. But, as the ancient folk wisdom goes, if you really want to foul things up, you need a computer.

Some of us speculated that Flynn had a studio monitor and saw that her image had been replaced by a self-cleaning dog, whereupon the ultra-professional anchor walked off the set (remember Dan Rather's moments of dead air after a sports delay?)

A very dramatic story but, sadly, not the one that everyone now says actually happened. And not even remotely in keeping with everything we know about her nature.
Too bad. If it HAD been what happened, Flynn would have had my vote--and certainly not the rug-rubbing dog or the fractious computer.
--Jeff Simon

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