Sevey bowed out when ‘live’ meant ‘dead’
It turns out that legendary Hawaii TV anchor Bob Sevey probably was the first victim of new technology dictating what constitutes "news" these days.
In an interview with Leslie Wilcox on her PBS Hawaii show "Long Story Short," Sevey, his hair mostly gone after cancer treatments, revealed for first time that he didn't "retire" from KGMB in 1986, as the public was told, but actually quit in a dispute over who decided what would air on the top-rated Channel 9 news.
Interviewed from his home in Washington state, Sevey said the flash point for his resignation was, ironically, a nothing little fire at Goo's Golden Tire Shop. Using the new technology of the day, a truck with an antenna that allowed live broadcasts from the scene, Sevey agreed to lead the night's program with a report from the fire, where several hundred used tires apparently perished and an empty shed lost its life. He even agreed to go back to the lack of devastation a second time in the show. But when producers said to close the show with a third live report of nothing happening, Sevey refused. Sevey, who had overseen the country's highest-rated local news show for decades, quit rather than concede what was news to consultants and a van with an antenna on top. Goo's was gone and, sadly for Hawaii, so was Sevey.
Jump forward 21 years and now we have cable news "alerts" every five minutes taking us to a helicopter shot of some idiot in his mother's car racing down an L.A. freeway. Why? Because helicopters have cameras now that don't jiggle! And they'll air that stupid chase for two hours. Then, on Fox News they have the "Extreme Weather Center" where satellite cameras show us that Earth is in peril, overrun with droughts, floods, fires, hurricanes, volcanos, tornados and a dangerous lack of snow for the first day of ski season. These weather reports seem to come straight out of the Book of Revelations. It doesn't matter that there have always been tornados, fires, floods and dangerous lack of snow (or way too much) on the opening of ski season; we just didn't have the technology -- the cameras and satellites -- to see them. Curiously, technology still can't predict the weather up to five days away. So instead, we are shown all the pretty cloud formations happening NOW from two miles above Earth. Why? BECAUSE THEY CAN!
Bob Sevey laments that local news shows in Hawaii even have weather segments. In his day, weather either led the news or got 15 seconds at the end of the show. I thought about Bob recently as I watched a live shot of an airplane grounded by rain at an Atlanta airport. Live. A wet plane not moving. In Atlanta. Technology now can let people in Hawaii see nothing happening on a Georgia tarmac. It's too bad that the good people of Atlanta missed the live shots of the fire at Goo's Golden Tire Shop. Today they would not.
(See the second part of the Leslie Wilcox's interview with Bob Sevey on PBS Hawaii at 7:30 tonight. Sadly, it's taped.)
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