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Posts Tagged ‘James Spann’

Longtime Birmingham Meteorologist Takes a Turn as Sports Anchor

James Spann, chief meteorologist for Birmingham, AL, ABC duopoly ABC 33/40, sat in on the sports desk for Mike Raita.

His report didn’t lack for opinion, which TVSpy can only speculate is what prompted the disclaimer by 10:00 p.m. anchor Dave Baird, “The following sportscast does not reflect the views or opinions of the ABC 33/40 sports department or any anchor at this desk.”

Spann, who has over 35 years experience as a TV weatherman and has worked at ABC 33/40 since its inception in 1996 told viewers, “They need another bald headed older guy to do sports. Here I am.”

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Pam Huff Remembers Wendell Harris, Who Made Her the First Female Anchor in Alabama History

Pam Huff, along with James Spann, took time during a recent ABC 33/40 newscast to remember longtime Birmingham newsman Wendell Harris, who passed away Tuesday morning.

Harris hired Huff and Spann during his time as news director at Birmingham’s WVTM, giving them both the first big breaks of their careers. When Huff was 24, Harris decided to give up his spot on the WVTM anchor desk and made her the first female nightly news anchor in the state of Alabama. Read more

Former Birmingham Newscaster Wendell Harris Dies

Wendell Harris, a longtime Birmingham anchor and news director, died this morning after a long hospital stay, according to the Birmingham News. He was 78.

Harris was hired at the Birmingham NBC-affiliate, which was then known as WAPI, in 1960. In his 21 years at the station, he worked as a reporter, assignment editor, news anchor and news director. In 1981, Harris left Birmingham for Austin, where he became general manager of KTBC. After three years, he took over as vice president and news director of KDFW in Dallas. He retired from television in 1996, according to the Birmingham News.

WBMA meteorologist James Spann remembered Harris in a post on his blog this morning. Read more

Meteorologist James Spann on Tornado Coverage: ‘We’re Not as Good as We Think We Are’

In an interview with NPR, veteran meteorologist James Spann, who has become something of a severe weather pundit during his time at ABC 33/40, highlighted the limitations he and his colleagues face when covering tornadoes.

“We’re not as good as we think we are, and we have to accept that and work on it and be better, and admit the warning process has some work to do,” Spann said, referring to the public’s over-reliance on typical tornado warnings, such as sirens.

Spann has long been an outspoken critic of the warning process. Read more

‘World News’ Interviews James Spann About Tornado Warnings, But Doesn’t Acknowledge Previous Report

After publicly criticizing Diane Sawyer and ABC News for inaccurate reporting on the Monday edition of “World News,” WBMA chief meteorologist James Spann was featured on the program last night in a segment about the tornado warning system.

The segment included reporting on how residents were able to get to safety before the tornadoes — with Sawyer noting “it could have been far worse” — but did not include acknowledgement or clarification of the previous night’s report, which stated that residents had “no warning” of the tornado threat.

ABC reporter Steve Osunsami said Alabama residents knew what to do “because the warnings came early” (watch above). Read more

New Campaign Rips TV Meteorologists for Denying Climate Change

As the AMS holds its annual meeting this week, a group of conservationists has launched a campaign pressuring TV meteorologists “to report the facts about climate change.”

Forecast the Facts is backed by three non-profit organizations and its goal is to hold meteorologists accountable on climate change.

“Scientists have been predicting for years that human-induced climate change would lead to a future of increasingly dangerous extreme weather events,” the campaign states. “But when most Americans tune into their local weather report, they won’t hear a peep about climate change. Why? Because the majority of TV meteorologists don’t believe in it.” Read more

WBMA Meteorologist James Spann to Diane Sawyer: ‘Get a Clue’ on Tornado Reporting

James Spann, chief meteorologist at Birmingham ABC-affiliate WBMA, is criticizing Diane Sawyer for her report on the Alabama tornadoes on yesterday evening’s “World News.”

Spann took to his blog to criticize Sawyer’s claim the pre-dawn tornadoes “took the South by surprise last night, no warning” (watch above).

“NO WARNING? Get a clue,” Spann wrote. “This event was forecast days in advance, and the average lead times for the entire event were 20 to 30 minutes. That is plenty of time to get to a safe place.” Read more

WSB Meteorologist Glenn Burns: ‘Weather is the Reason to Watch a Newscast’

Examining the recent evolution of the TV weathercaster, a front page story in today’s New York Times describes local meteorologists as community heroes that regularly save lives through accurate reporting and severe weather warnings.

Profiling WSB‘s Glenn Burns, who has worked in Atlanta TV for 30 years, the Times article states:

In the old days, he used to have to wait for his turn in the newscast, slap a magnetic sun on a map and hope it didn’t rain.

Now he presides over a new $1.7 million radar system and has more real estate on the set than the newscasters have. As that kind of technology offers the ability to predict with great precision how a severe storm will move, the weather forecast has become about saving lives.

Read more

WBMA Meteorologist on Tornado Sirens: ‘The Time Has Come to Take Them Down’

In the aftermath of a tornado outbreak that killed more than 300 people this spring, veteran meteorologist James Spann is calling for an overhaul of the NWS tornado warning system — and a new commitment to weather coverage across local regions.

In a post on ABC 33/40‘s weather blog, Spann writes that tornado sirens, which have an 80-90 percent false alarm ratio, are outdated and overused. “Getting these kind of warnings over and over and over again totally create an ocean of people that won’t be paying attention when a real tornado emergency is in progress,” he writes. “The cry wolf syndrome is very real, and very dangerous.” Read more

Meteorologist James Spann Attributes Success of Tornado Coverage to Volunteer Videographers

“If you can show a live tornado with a camera, there’s no doubt that people will react in a more urgent way,” said ABC 33/40 meteorologist James Spann, whose in-depth coverage of Alabama’s brutal tornadoes has been admired by newsers across the country this week.

In a recent interview with The New York Times, Spann said that live video of the tornado system, much of it shot by volunteers, made the difference in ABC 33/40′s (WCFT-WJSU-WBMA) coverage. Here’s the Times:

Live video of tornado touchdowns is a relatively new phenomenon, one that has been made possible by extensive mobile access to the Internet. In Birmingham, WBMA recruits and trains volunteers to follow severe thunderstorms and act as spotters, complete with dashboard cameras linked via the Internet to the station.

“They’re just like an extension of what we do,” Spann said of the volunteer videographers.

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