Missing The StormTeam

May 13th, 2010 | Posted in Opinion, Wishlist | 7 Comments

I’m one of those people that likes to keep track of the weather even when there is nothing “severe” going on.  For years all I needed to do was tune my tv to KAIT and I could catch up to date weather conditions and forecasts on any of their newscasts.  They have also had a long standing policy of cutting in on regular broadcasts when weather conditions get severe so that they can do the best job possible of keeping viewers informed as to what was going on.  This all added up to make KAIT and their “StormTeam” being the absolute best tv station I have ever watched in terms of local weather coverage.

Then came the “Big Switch” to all digital broadcasting.  All of a sudden the just passable analog signal that I was accustomed to, living at the edge of their broadcast area as I do, was gone.  It was replaced by a digital only signal that, for reasons that nobody has been able to satisfactorily explain to me, has about half of the power of the old analog signal and is therefore useless to me.

Yes, I got a digital converter box back when everybody was scrambling to get one.  NO, it doesn’t help because it cannot receive the new signal.  I looked into the possibility of putting up an outside antenna and found the cost prohibitively expensive.

I even emailed some helpful folks at KAIT and they provided me with links to sites like www.antennaweb.org where I researched the possibility of building an antenna and I was able to determine that in order for an outside antenna to be of any use at all I would have to mount a directional antenna with a gain of at least 35db on a tower no less than 100 feet tall.  It was quickly obvious that buying or building such an antenna was entirely beyond my means.

People have told me that I should just get cable or satellite tv and that would solve the problem.  Well, actually, no it would not.  For one thing it’s unlikely that either would carry the station whose weather reports I want to see, KAIT.  For another, aside from news and weather broadcasts, I don’t even WANT to watch tv.  I have absolutely zero use for all of the channels that would be included in such a package and I REFUSE to pay for something (even if I could afford it, which I cannot.) that I have no intention of using.

This left their website, kait8.com as my only possible means of getting access to ANY of their weather broadcasts.  While far from complete, it was at least helpful for quite a while.  The weather broadcast was posted on the weather home page of the site for the morning and evening broadcasts.  A far cry from what I was used to because the weather cut-ins that I have come to value so much are never available on the website.

Then recently they’ve decided to redesign the page (Side Note:: WHY do sites insist on changing stuff that works??? WHY do they constantly “improve” things to the point where somebody on an older computer can no longer use it?).  Now, instead of having the weather broadcasts viewable on the weather page, when you click on the video you want to see you get redirected to a “video page” that is so heavy with flash players that the thing barely functions at all.

In addition to that, the daily posting of morning and evening weather broadcasts has been falling off for some time.  The site would often go days without being updated and almost never updated on the weekend.  It got to the point where I considered myself blessed to find even ONE new weather broadcast video posted there per week.

Now some bright genius has decided to change things yet again.  The weather videos disappeared completely from the weather page and was nearly impossible to find.  I commented about this to KAIT’s Sarah Tipton on Twitter and this morning the video link re-appeared on the weather page but it still drops you back onto that overly bloated video page that barely functions.  I’ll give her credit though, at least now I can FIND the thing again!  Thanks Sarah.

I realize that I’m not exactly a majority here.  I’m just a guy on a fixed income that really misses the up to the minute weather information, INCLUDING the cut-ins for severe weather.  I live a the edge of the area that their old analog signal reached and well outside the reach of the new digital signal.  I have no intention of moving (couldn’t afford to if I wanted to!), cannot afford cable or satellite (and can’t see paying for a whole package when I only want ONE channel!  Not that a cable or satellite company would permit you to order only one channel!  They won’t, I’ve asked.).

However, in spite of all that, I will say that Just because I can no longer receive their signal doesn’t change the fact that I live in “Region 8” and they are still the best source of up to the minute weather coverage that is available.  Yes, there’s sites like weather.com and intellicast.com and they are useful, however those along with all the other resources out there on the web simply don’t add up to even one minute of live coverage when they cut-in to provide severe weather coverage.

I think that KAIT is missing an opportunity here.  If their weather page had the morning and evening weather broadcasts viewable on that page and was updated in a timely fashion every single day they would be the station that looks out for the “little guys” like myself that lost their great weather coverage in “The Big Switch”.

In fact if they REALLY wanted to do something exceedingly cool they could arrange for their cut-ins to be simulcast live on their weather home page!  It would be just the ticket for those like myself that cannot get but very much want those live cut-in broadcasts.  Those cut-ins have saved a lot of people a lot of trouble and I sincerely wish that they were still available.

[tags]weather, severe weather, live cut in, stormteam, kait, channel 8, jonesboro, arkansas, cherokee village, digital tv, no signal, antenna, cable, satellite, too expensive, wish list[/tags]

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7 Responses to “Missing The StormTeam”

  1. What speed do you typically connect to the Internet?

    I have relayed your claims that our dedicated video page ‘that is so heavy with flash players that the thing barely functions at all’ to our content platform providers to look into this further.

    The dedicated video page provides a much larger viewing screen and most have agreed that is a better online viewing experience… but at the expense of greater bandwidth requirements.

  2. My internet connection is 8 to 10 mbit/sec down and .5 to 1.2 mbit/sec up (the fastest available here) and I’m using a 1.67ghz cpu with 2gb of ram on Windows XP PRO (recently rebooted) and Firefox 3.6

    The weather home page http://www.kait8.com/Global/category.asp?C=4390&nav=menu67_3 typically loads in about 20 to 45 seconds or so.

    When I click on “Sarah’s Updated Thursday Web Forecast” the video page took well over a minute and a half to finish loading (typical for me, though I’ve occasionally seen it take twice that).  At one point I could see a total of six players at various stages of loading, all showing the spinning “loading” graphic.  The main video didn’t start until the page completed loading.

  3. What do you think of the design and functionality of this weather page from an Oklahoma City station?


  4. It’s got a good layout and appears to be packed with information.  The page appears to load fairly quickly, about 20 to 30 seconds.  I then clicked on the “Thursday Afternoon Forecast” video.  The resulting video page was loaded in roughly 30 seconds or so and the video itself began playing within 20 seconds.

    One thing I like about their video page is that they gave weather videos their own section with prominence equal to the main news videos.  I also appreciate how the videos seamlessly move to the next video in line in a way that gives web viewers an experience that feels a lot like watching the broadcast on tv even though they don’t quite look like they’re arranged in the same order as the broadcast.  If they have live simulcast of their severe weather cut-ins they’d really be rocking.

  5. Thanks Ed for the constructive feedback it is much appreciated!

    Please keep in mind, and this is something we need to communicate much better…  kait8.com has been simulcasting our severe weather cut-ins for some time via the 24/7 8.2 channel that is always live from the Weather Toolbox block on the weather page, and on agtracktoday.com.  During live severe weather coverage, the control room switches this feed from the 8.2 channel to the primary 8.1 channel with the live, wall-to-wall coverage you are accustomed to.

    During severe weather, we additionally place a link to this live simulcast in our breaking severe weather block at the top of kait8.com’s homepage.

    Clicking these links to the live channel, produces a dedicated video player window, rather than embedded in a web page so that you may browse to other weather coverage and alerts unencumbered by an embedded video player trying to load and reload as you browse.

  6. I wish that I had known about this simulcast a long time ago!  I remember once checking out the “24 / 7 LIVE Radar” link and because it required Microsoft Silverlight I never actually saw what that link had to offer.  Now that I know what’s there I’ll have to give some serious re-consideration to my previous decision to never allow silverlight to be installed on any computer of mine.

  7. Just a quick followup.  I did some checking and it seems that silverlight is installed on my new laptop so I checked out that “24 / 7 8.2 channel live weather feed link” and I have to say that it is exactly what I was wishing that your website had!  I am definitely bookmarking that link and will be telling others about it that may not be aware of it.  Note, you gotta admit, your weather home page does not exactly make clear just what that link goes to.  If it had, I would have very probably been using it a long time ago.