We have a lot of fun now and again with our local meteorologists, because the weather in Oklahoma is such a big deal and we’re all aware of them from the time we’re little kids, and yes, sometimes their coverage can be a little over-the-top. But when the chips are down and there is a truly devastating event taking place, like last week’s tornado, they really do play an incredibly important role in saving people’s lives.
One of my lasting memories of May 20th is Damon Lane realizing and acknowledging on-air that his house was likely gone, and then with an insane amount of poise and professionalism, continuing to advise, caution, and instruct his viewers about what was happening. It was genuinely nothing less than heroic work. Whatever doubts about him any of us had after Rick Mitchell left are gone now for good.
As part of their ongoing coverage of the tornado, The Oklahoman interviewed the three lead meteorologists about their approach to tornado coverage in general and last Monday specifically.
The LA Times features a lengthy profile on Gary England today. The article was written by Oklahoma-native Hailey Branson-Potts. It chronicles Gary’s rise from a young rascal in Seiling to the life-saving severe weather deity he is today.
From the LA Times:
At 73, [Gary England] has chronicled some of Oklahoma’s most devastating storms in this part of the nation, known as Tornado Alley.
England got started in 1972, when he stood in front of cameras with chalkboards, not computer graphics, providing the visuals. He is credited with developing faster and more accurate methods of predicting tornadoes and often issues warnings before the National Weather Service.
“I’ve heard people say, ‘Gary England saved my life,’ ” said Keli Pirtle, spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Wait for it…Wait for it…
A popular Oklahoma City blog recently voted England the most influential person in the state; Jesus came in second.
Yep, I guess we’re that popular Oklahoma City blog. Cool, huh? In 2009 we did rank the 50 most powerful Oklahomans and Gary England did come in at number one. He ranked ahead of super humans such as Chuck Norris, Jesus Christ and Barry Switzer. Normally, we get all feisty and come after the local media when they refuse to mention us by name, but we’ll let the LA Times exclusion slide. This is because a) it’s the LA Fucking Times and b) we are not worthy enough to be mentioned in his presence.
In case you didn’t know, we’ve worshipped and idolized Gary England since this site began in 2007, so I thought it would be fun to look back at some of his greater moments. This list excludes, of course, the time we sacrificed that lamb next to Channel 9’s doppler radar. Apparently that’s frowned upon by the OKCPD.
1. Gary England Making the Daily Show
Back in 2007, News 9 produced a super scary and now kind of chilling commercial about tornadoes. Around the same time, Jim Inhofe made comments that the Weather Channel was trying to scare people into believing some crazy conspiracy by scientists know as “Global Warming.” Somehow, the Daily Show found out about the two and tied them together. If you’re looking for a bit of levity, watch it. It’s kind of hysterical:
Earlier this week, the Oklahoma Heritage Association announced its 2013 Oklahoma Hall of Fame Class. It was highlighted by several rich businessmen, a cool judge and one severe weather deity:
Seven outstanding Oklahomans have been selected for induction into the 86th class of the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. These accomplished Oklahomans will join the cast of 655 individuals who have been inducted into the Hall since 1928. The honorees officially were announced at a luncheon today at the Gaylord-Pickens Museum. New inductees were presented to a roomful of past Oklahoma Hall of Fame honorees.
The 2013 Oklahoma Hall of Fame inductees are: Michael D. Case, Tulsa, Gary A. England, Seiling, John D. Groendyke, Enid, Timothy C. Headington, Oklahoma City, Vicki Miles-LaGrange, Oklahoma City, Russell M. Perry, Oklahoma City and Reggie N. Whitten, Seminole.
Click here for more information about each of the class members.
The honorees will be formally inducted to the Hall on Nov. 7 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City. Also in November, their portraits will be added to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame Gallery at the Gaylord-Pickens Museum. Their biographies, photos and fun facts will be accessed through touch screen computers in the same gallery.
Let me get this straight. Gary England wasn’t already in the Oklahoma Hall of Fame!? How’s that possible? I know he was caught up on the dew point temperature betting scandal in the mid-1970s, but that was such a long time ago. Since then, he’s saved 1.8-million lives and once fended off a maxi-wedge multi-vortex grinder with nothing but a magic barometer and Doppler radar shield.
To celebrate this long over due announcement, here’s a new piece of art by local artist Trent Lawson. If I have my way, it will soon be hanging over the fireplace in Ogle Manor. It features Gary England, armed with a rifle and chainsaw, protecting Linda Cavanaugh from an evil army of deranged skeletons:
Back in April, we published a post about the not-so-subtle changes taking place at NewsOK.com. Basically, how the site is transitioning from an average newspaper homepage to a below-average news aggregator super hub. One specific item we touched on was the launch of the “new and improved” “Digital Desk.”
This is what we had to say:
The site is also in the midst of posting sprightly little columns from something called the ”The Digital Desk.” They kind of remind me of the stories you’d see at BuzzFeed but probably not click on. That’s probably a good thing because the posts are kind of boring. Here are two recent examples. Make sure you drink some caffeine before trying to read them.
6 types of people you might have seen at Norman Music Festival: My favorite is Number 6. It shows a photograph of people taking cover from rain with the caption “People who would not let rain keep them from enjoying the festival.”
20 ways people responded to news of Russell Westbrook’s injury: I have no comment about this post. That’s how awful it is.
Now this is where things get creepy. When they’re not ripping off BuzzFeed, it looks like the Digital Desk is trying to stoop down to our level and write blog posts about Oklahoman weather and weathermen! This development has led to people asking me if we’re worried that OPUBCO is trying to force us to move to Enid or something.
Well, it looks like I can continue sending my Enid realtor to voicemail. Things have not improved at the NewsOK.com Digital Desk. In fact, you can its content has gotten worse. Check out some of newer posts. These are totally real:
5 things Oklahomans should remember about ‘The Biggest Loser’ before they audition this Saturday. That’s real. I swear I didn’t make it up. They really published the post, and somehow “Be Morbidly Obese and Jolly” wasn’t number one. They also didn’t make fun of Neil Harmer for falling off a treadmill. Basically, the the post was preachy, boring and something you’d never want to read.
4 reasons why ‘Iron Man 3′ was a horrible start to Marvel’s Phase 2. Word of advice to all web writers, editors and publishers. If you want to write a list and only have four items on it, either don’t write the list or come up with a fifth item. It’s not that hard.
Whatever it is that Rob Hibbard is doing. I’m pretty sure he writes all of his experimental posts while smoking bad weed and listening to Mars Volta. He’s either on some genius level that we don’t comprehend or just really really depressed.
Yeah, it’s quite obvious that the people behind the NewsOK Digital Desk really don’t know what they’re doing. They’re clueless, trying too hard, and I kind of feel sorry for them. They remind me of a 50-year-old wearing a Tommy Bahama shirt to a rock concert.
In effort to have a little fun, we came up with a list of 33 totally awesome story ideas that we wouldn’t be surprised to see on the NewsOK.com Digital Desk. Here they are:
1. The 20 Hottest Women In The Oklahoma City Print Media
2. 23 Best Places in OKC to Avoid Gay People
3. Steve Lackmeyer’s 11 favorite White Water slides
As I’m writing this, local really-wants-to-be-a-media-starlet Abigail Ogle has 14,450 Twitter followers. Yep, you read that right: fourteen thousand, four hundred and fifty. That ranks her 9th in Oklahoma City and is a lot of followers for a relatively inexperienced sports reporter on a fledgling UHF channel. To put the number in perspective, compare Abigail’s count to these other local media personalities:
• Emily Sutton: 9,650 followers
• Kelly Ogle: 6,332 followers
• Dean Blevins: 10,809 followers
• Bob Barry Jr: 9,393 followers
Without a doubt, all of those individuals have higher profile jobs and better name recognition than Abigail, yet somehow she has more followers than all of them. How can that be? Are Abigail’s tweets extra-funny, super entertaining or more enlightening than the others? Does she follow everyone that follows her? Does she pretend to be BeeBee Jonez and post very very very provocative photos throughout the day?
No, she doesn’t do any of those things (unless you consider drinking Edna’s Lunchboxes with Mike Morgan’s bionic storm chaser to be provocative). It appears Abigail has taken an easier path to Twitter stardom. It looks like she paid for her followers. How else can you explain the unusual growth of her follower count over the past six months. Just check out this graph:
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