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My Encounter With an Angry Viewer

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Friday, July 27, 2012

My Encounter With an Angry Viewer

I love my job.  Even though things get a bit crazy during severe weather coverage, I get excited.

When boss lady asks me to come in a bit early for cut-ins, I'm happy to oblige.  Forecasting the weather can get tricky.  It's important to be on top of your game at all times.  People usually are quick to ask, "When is the storm coming?" "How long is it gonna last?"

There are times when I'm crunching (some say crashing, I say crunching), and I'd get a phone call from a colleague- "I'm planning to go hang out with some friends later tonight.  Is it gonna be like really bad?"  I think to myself, "Like dude for real?  You're really asking me this right now and I'm about to go up live?! Seriously?"  Instead of losing it, I give them the info they need.  From time to time there are those who will say, "I know you've been reporting the weather all day.  But, I wasn't really paying attention.  So, what's it gonna be like outside?

If you're reading this and think that I'm being a total beeyotch, you got me all wrong.  I actually think it's quite comical.  I remember being the one asking the Meteorologist these same questions before making the switch to weather.  It's like karma coming back to bite be in the a**.  On a serious note, I really do appreciate the questions.  It shows that that they look to me as their weather authority.  Even if I'm swamped, I think it's important to answer questions.  That's what I'm here for.

I recall receiving a phone call from one of our interns from the assignment desk.  I remember her telling me about an angry viewer demanding to speak to a weather forecaster.  Normally I don't take calls from viewers.  But something in me says to take the call.  FYI, we are going up live in less than one hour.

Me:"________.  How can I help you?"
Caller: "That's how you answer the phone?  With an attitude?
You don't have to have an attitude!  That's how you treat people?"
Me: "I'm sorry if you think I'm being rude.  It's just that we're in the middle of storm coverage and there is a sense of urgency.  How can I help you?"
Caller: "When I call ______, they are nice and they're not rude!  I don't know none of these people here.  The only one I know is Stacy-Ann.  I don't know no body else."

This person continues to ramble on- obviously not knowing it's me on the phone.  I don't bother telling the caller my name), and I am hoping not to get dissed.  Thank goodness, I'm not!  Whew!

Me:  "Is there something I can help you with?"
Caller: "Well, I want to know about the weather. Ya'll keep saying the same things over and over again.  You're supposed to be a 24 hour channel.  Every time I turn on the TV, ya'll are not telling me exactly where it's raining."
Me:  "Well, we are tracking storms and they won't be arriving until later this evening.  We air live newscasts that repeat throughout the evening.  Where exactly are you?"
Caller:  "I'm in ______.  What I wanna know is when it's supposed to hail.  Is it gonna mess up my house? Is it gonna mess up my car?"

This caller is clearly very irate and I wonder if I'd ever be able to calm this person down.  I give a quick synopsis of the forecast.  I mention that we've been tracking some severe thunderstorms out west, and that those storms are accompanied my hail, lightning, gusty winds, and flooding.  I reassure this person that we'll be updating our forecast throughout the evening, and will inform viewers when to expect the rain to arrive.  I also provide a timeline.

By the end of the conversation this caller does a complete 180.  This person even starts cracking jokes.  The caller goes from being upset to happy in a matter of 20 minutes.  I couldn't believe we've been talking for that long.  But, I don't mind.  It's important that this person hangs up the phone with peace of mind.  That's what I would want for myself.

What would you have done, if you were in my shoes?

Weather Anchor Mama


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At July 27, 2012 at 2:09 AM , Blogger _RollsJoyce said...

I'm such an anti confrontational person that I don't even know how to react when some REAL stuff goes down! You handled it very well!

At July 28, 2012 at 9:03 AM , Blogger Leigh Powell Hines (Hines-Sight Blog) said...

So nice to meet you. Popping in from SITs today. Your post brought back a lot of memories for me. Used to be a TV journalist in the 90s.

At July 28, 2012 at 9:12 AM , Blogger Savvy Working Gal said...

People. What more can I say. I think you handled the caller as best you could at the time. (I would have been tempted to hang up) I am an accountant working in private industry. The only tax return I have ever prepared is my own and a family members or two. That doesn't stop acquaintances from flagging me down especially at the gym to ask if they will owe a capital gain tax when if sell their business or how to get the state of Illinois to correct an error their accountant made on their tax return. Hmm... call your accountant.

At least the caller didn't proceed to complain about your earrings, hair style or weight. All of which a local anchor I know has received comments on.

Stopping by from SITS.

At July 28, 2012 at 9:15 AM , OpenID copilotmom said...

It sounds like you handled that situation very well. It is always good when you can turn a potentially negative interaction into a postive one. I hope that I would be able to do the same in you shoes. I really don't like confrontation, either.

At July 28, 2012 at 10:31 AM , Blogger doseofreality said...

I am very impressed with how well you handled the call. Sounds to me like they were just an unhappy person! You should be proud that you turned things around, though. :) Stopping by from SITS.

At July 28, 2012 at 1:06 PM , Anonymous prototype mama said...

Well for me--I think I would had handled the call the same way as you but with just a little more nice-nastinest in it

Say hey from Sharefest

At July 28, 2012 at 5:52 PM , Blogger Nellie said...

Hi Stacy-ann! First I want to say that you are AWESOME on tv and you do a fabulous job every single time, so happy I found your blog and I would LOVE to meet you at blogher!

(now that I got that out of the way :)

I think you handled the call perfectly, GOOD that you didn't confirm it was you. People sometimes are just looking for a fight!

At July 29, 2012 at 12:56 AM , Blogger Weather Anchor Mama said...

Thanks so much RollsJoyce. The last thing I wanted to do was get into it with her. It's just not worth. Becoming a mom has mellowed me out big time!

At July 29, 2012 at 12:57 AM , Blogger Weather Anchor Mama said...

Really? Where? Would love to chat about your experience as a journalist.

At July 29, 2012 at 1:15 AM , Blogger Weather Anchor Mama said...

So funny you should mentioned earrings, hair, and weight. I've gotten emails about my hair in the past. There are times when you second guess yourself or get discourage, but I just remember that these people don't know me personally. I can't believe you get those financial questions. Actually, I can. My husband is in banking. People are always asking him about that stuff. lol

At July 29, 2012 at 1:19 AM , Blogger Weather Anchor Mama said...

Thanks so much Copilotmom!

At July 29, 2012 at 1:25 AM , Blogger Weather Anchor Mama said...

Hey Nellie! So funny, I stopped by your blog earlier and left a comment! You look great after the babies! Can't wait to meet you at blogher!

At August 1, 2012 at 10:25 AM , Blogger Faith said...

I'm impressed! I think you handled it correctly! It is always nice when an irate caller ends up hanging the phone thinking you are the nicest person on the planet, hehe.


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