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Cold hard fact: Ch.7 goes to ridiculous lengths in search of an audience

It is 6 o’clock? Do you know where Channel 7’s news anchors are?

Would you believe on Monday, anchors Keith Radford and Joanna Pasceri were bundled up, delivering the news outside on an Ice Desk in near zero temperatures in what had to be the most laughable moment of the February sweeps period that mercifully concludes tonight.

Yes, even funnier than Channel 4 anchor Nalina Shapiro reading a producer’s script that mistakenly confused moon walker Neil  Armstrong with jazz great Louis Armstrong. And I didn’t think that moment could be topped.

After watching Channel 7 on Monday, I almost immediately tweeted: “SNL skit coming? Watching Joanna Pasceri and Keith Radford outside in below zero temp anchor 7 Eyewitness News. Ridiculous.”

That was followed by another tweet: “Shouldn’t be long before a Save Joanna and Keith petition starts.”

Thankfully, there’s no need for the petition because cooler heads prevailed Tuesday.

Radford was co-anchoring the news outside at 5 p.m. Tuesday with earmuffs on rather than a hat, but he was allowed inside about 5:16 p.m.

Noting the temperature was 17 degrees, Radford cracked: “I feel like I am on the beach in Miami.”

At 5:30 p.m., young anchor Ed Drantch, subbing for Jeff Russo, was also anchoring outside at the top of the newscast.

“It’s not as cold as I thought it would be,” said Drantch, Nonetheless, he was brought inside after a few minutes.

By 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., Tuesday, Radford was co-anchoring inside, which may have prevented Channel 7’s from being sued for age discrimination.

OK, I’m kidding on that point.

But seriously, you had to question why Channel 7 would send its veteran anchors outside on Monday and Tuesday.

I couldn’t contain myself Monday when Channel 7 meteorologist Aaron Mentkowski was delivering his weather forecast inside.

Yes, the weather guy was inside Monday, the anchors were outside.

What’s wrong with this picture?

I tweeted “Mentkowski just said if you are out this evening make sure you are bundled up. It is extremely cold outside.”

Good advice. Too bad the bosses who sent Radford and Pasceri outside apparently weren’t listening.

After further review, watching them anchor outside Monday seemed to belong as much in a future “Anchorman 3” script as “Saturday Night Live.”

Radford and Pasceri weren’t even given space heaters, something the Buffalo Bills receive when they are on the bench during cold weather games.

How cold was it Monday night? Let’s just say I wouldn’t walk 25 feet to my mail box to get all the bills that were bound to come Monday.

I’m told that sending anchors outside to freeze has been done in other markets, which reminds me of something my mother used to say when I tried to get approval to do something a friend was stupidly doing.

“If Joe jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge,” my mom would say, “would you follow him?”

My mother also used to say “don’t you know enough to get out of the cold?” when the weather hit 20 degrees or lower.

And 20 degrees feels like a heat wave after the February Western New Yorkers have experienced.

I totally understand that as the third-rated news department, Channel 7 desperately needs attention. Its news product has noticeably improved since Scripps took over as owner, but few viewers have seemed to notice during the February sweeps.

But I would preach something besides gimmicks to get an audience, something else my mother constantly suggested: patience.

In essence, having its anchors deliver the news outside at or near below zero temperatures is the equivalent of shouting “hey, you’re not going to believe this?”

I guess that the cry for attention is also behind the promotion of its Ice Desk and a fancy mobile weather lab. It is also why reporters are driving around to show viewers how dangerous it is to drive around in slippery conditions.

The message apparently is: "Don't be as dumb as we are and drive around in this mess."

In fairness, all the news departments seem to think viewers need to watch reporters driving around in bad conditions. The funny thing is that sometimes the conditions don’t look so bad.

But back to Keith and Joanna on Monday.

As if anchoring the news outside isn’t stupid enough, the cameras often weren’t on them for very long during the 6 p.m. newscast Monday as many of the stories they read were quick voiceovers.

It was hard to tell who to feel sorrier for under these conditions.

Radford, after all, is more than 60 years old and I’m sure would rather be on a Florida beach vacationing than risking his health.

But Pasceri got it worst at 11 p.m. Monday when she was sent to cover a fire -- where four firefighters were injured -- even though another reporter, Jill Perkins, was also at the scene and seemed perfectly capable of handling the story herself.

Why did Channel 7 need double coverage? All I could think of is that some consultant has decided to send its anchors out on the scene more than they have been in the past regardless of whether they add anything more than animated excitement.

Pasceri certainly was more animated than usual delivering her report. Maybe that was her way of trying to keep warm. After all, it didn’t look like she was close enough to the fire to get warm.

Come to think of it, after Pasceri anchored outside in near below zero temps earlier Monday, I suspect she won’t feel warm again until June anyway.

After putting its anchors through cruel and unusual conditions, Channel 7 should fire its consultant and hire someone with as much wisdom as my late mother.

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