Tomato Patch: Weathering through a contract dispute

By Greg Glassner

H-P Editor Emeritus

I ran into intrepid H-P photographer Nick Liberante at the Patrick Henry Y Saturday and he reminded me that I have not cultivated one of my Tomato Patch columns in a while.

Although I have battled a few cold/flu/sinus bugs this winter, that never stopped me from exercising my two fingers on the keyboard in the past. I guess pure sloth is the explanation.

I also admitted to Nick that I no longer follow the local and national news as closely as I did when I reported to work at the H-P office every weekday and often stopped in for an hour or two on Saturdays or Sundays. One of the first things I did every morning was grab a cup of coffee and peruse the morning daily newspaper. This often inspired my column ideas.

Now I get my news in smaller, more sporadic doses. I stop by the office every week or two and pick up back issues of the H-P, of course. And, after workouts at the Y or when I kill an hour or so at the library, I’ll browse through a daily newspaper or USA Today.

As for daily news doses, if it’s not on the morning Mike and Mike Show on ESPN2, or on The Daily Show on Comedy Central,  I am clueless about what passes for national and international news these days.

Oh, I catch glimpses of CNN or FOX News when exercising at the Y, but it is the closed-caption version. I soon discovered that those talking heads on TV can talk for hours without really saying anything. (This is more difficult to discern if you have the sound turned on. Try turning the sound off sometime and read what they are saying. You will see what I mean.)

One thing I care about even more than when I had to go to the office every day is the weather. I became a big fan of the Weather Channel, which provided me the current temperature and prediction for the day with a flick of my remote. It also allowed me to sit snugly in my warm den and watch motorists in the Midwest slide all over the road during the blizzard du jure.

Which is why I am annoyed that DirecTV cancelled the Weather Channel in one of those ubiquitous cable/satellite TV contract disputes.
Instead, I am now subjected to the hastily-concocted “Weather Nation” which appears to originate in someone’s garage. I think they ran out and bought some maps and $20 worth of magic markers and poster board, hired the weather guy from the No. 3 TV station in town, and then went on the air. It is a slipshod substitute.

The Weather Channel was started in 1982 by Frank Batten, who built his family’s daily newspaper in Norfolk into a news empire called Landmark Communications.

In the 1970s I worked for Batten for nearly eight years as a news and sports reporter and junior editor at the Ledger-Star – although I am not sure he was ever aware of that fact.

Batten was an avid blue-water sailor and skier and cared very much about what the weather was like in Annapolis, Nassau, Aspen and Vail.

A lot of people thought he was crazy when he started the Weather Channel, reasoning, “Who wants weather 24-hours a day?”

Batten’s family-owned business sold the Weather Channel for $3.5 billion in 2008, shortly before its founder died.

I guess people do care about the weather.

Posted on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 2:13 pm