Let's say you're KOCE-TV Channel 50 head honcho Mel Rogers, and you were presented with the ratings bonanza that was this past weekend's devastating fires in the badlands of northern Orange County. With the advent of digital television, you now have four distinct channels in your capacity. You are also Orange County's public-television station and one of just three TV stations located here (the others being the Trinity Broadcasting Network and KDOC-TV Channel 56). It's also fundraising time, which means you must balance pertinent information to the community you serve along with the interest of your budget.
a) Wipe off all programming from your four channels–especially the fund drive pledging, because to ask viewers for money at a time of crisis seems tacky–in favor of wall-to-wall coverage with KOCE's meager-but-talented staff.
b) Devote just the analog channel to live coverage of the infernos.
c) At least air live coverage on the OC Channel, the digital-television component of KOCE that already airs nothing but Orange County-related shows.
d) None of the above
e) Even worse than D.
I'd pick A, of course, but click after the jump to see what Rogers did!
Of course, Rogers–a man who barely knows his Orange County history–did E. I spent most of Saturday (when not choking on embers in Fullerton) watching television, marveling at the splendid job the Los Angeles-based radio and television stations did, and waiting for KOCE to chime in… Nothing–worse than nothing. No coverage whatsoever, not even on their Orange County Channel–the most Rogers could muster from his stations was a news ticker on the digital channel, one borrowed from the headlines of the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Times and KCAL-TV Channel 9.
Even worse, however, was KOCE's approach to asking viewers for dinero. While KPCC-FM 89.3 is also on fund-drive mode, at least Larry Mantle and other station personalities on the air during the fire plugged their station's need for money tactfully. KOCE's take? Pre-recorded shills by Maria Hall-Brown and others for everything from a Who documentary to some winter-music CD. While Orange County burned, KOCE wanted your cash. Nice. Their website motto is “Your Orange County,” but they should add “Now Four Times More Pointless!”