You can often tell a lot about a local TV station by the programming decisions management makes on the fly. WJZ-Channel 13 made a good one this morning in blowing off The Early Show, from CBS, and sticking with its own snow-related programming through 9 a.m. -- and then adding an extra hour of its own until 10.
WBAL-Channel 11 and WMAR-Channel 2, meanwhile, went back to their network morning shows by 8 a.m. just as thousands of area viewers were still looking for information about schools, day care, work and, most of all, weather and road conditions. (WMAR went back to local programming at 9.)
WBFF-Channel 45 also had local coverage, but it wasn't the same kind of decision as WJZ made, because there is no Fox morning show to go to. WBFF does its own morning show every day from 6 to 9 a.m.
Yes, the storm was less severe than expected, but it still disrupted the usual Monday morning routine.
Furthermore, beyond the steady stream of local information, which is after all what we are all supposed to be providing above all else, I love seeing the reporters out on the roads in goofy looking hats interviewing residents about how they navigated the roads, what they are doing with the kids who are not in school, and what they think about the performance by the city and county in salting and plowing the roads. In its own strange way, TV provides an enjoyable sense of community with such live programming.
I know that having the lowest rated network morning show, as WJZ does, makes the decision to ditch it a lot easier. But the CBS-owned station went beyond even that by staying on the air with snow coverage though the 9 o'clock hour as well.
Complaints? I could do without the ridiculously self-important Marty Bass at the anchor desk, but I suspect lots of long-time Baltimore viewers could not imagine snow coverage without him.
I would rather have him than what WBAL had during its 8 o'clock hour: Today show host Matt Lauer interviewing a young couple about the engagement ring she swallowed when her fiancee stupidly put it in her milkshake.
When it snows, give me Ron Matz in parka and ear flaps standing on Boston Street in Canton.
Full disclosure: The Baltimore Sun and WJZ share information and content as media partners, but we're also media partners with MPT (see below).
(Above: Natarsha Wainwright cleans the sidewalk in front of her Upper Fells Points home on South Washington Street / Jed Kirschbaum, Baltimore Sun Photographer )