Dew Lord, Oh, Dew Lord

Jul 24, 2006  •  Post A Comment

While everyone was talking about the beastly weather of the last couple of weeks, The Insider was trying to do something about the way it’s reported in many weather segments.

Anyone who sweats as early and as often (not to mention as unattractively) as The Insider needs to know not just that it’s humid but how humid. The specific level of humidity has always told The Insider whether she will find things bearable or not. Basically, anything over 59 percent humidity and she begins to bead up like a heavy-construction worker in hell.

As a whole, local weathercasts and weather breaks in New York don’t cater to the humidity-challenged. Specific humidity data figures go mostly unspoken and appear as part of an infrequent “current conditions” graphic that also includes the dew point.

Two very patient weather forecasters tried to turn The Insider on to the dew point as a better barometer (pun intended) of how soon after she goes outside she will bead up.

Indeed, Dave Marsh said that in his 30 years of presenting the weather for WESH-TV, Hearst-Argyle’s NBC affiliate in Orlando, Fla., where the humidity wraps itself around one like a wet washcloth, he has favored dew point as “a more accurate and simple way of measuring moisture in the atmosphere.”

Mr. Marsh good-naturedly pounced on The Insider’s admission that she could not scientifically define humidity. She couldn’t accurately define dew point, either, but Mr. Marsh persisted:

“If I said the temperature was 80 and the dew point was 60, after a while you would get used to knowing what it meant. If the two numbers are the same, that means the air is 100 percent saturated.”

“Dew point is the temperature to which the air has to cool to form droplets of water,” explained Sean McLaughlin, who is headed from MSNBC back to Meredith-owned CBS affiliate KPHO-TV in Phoenix. “Anytime you have a high dew point, you are having a very humid day. Any time the dew point is close to the air temperature is a very, very humid day.”

Mr. McLaughlin also explained why the dew point is more important information for residents of arid regions, such as the Southwest. It has to do with letting people know whether their evaporative coolers will be more effective than air conditioners.

To be perfectly honest, The Insider still feels more comfortable using the humidity level as a bearability gauge, but she is going to give the dew point an earnest try … when she can get it from New York forecasters, who tend not to verbalize that information either.

And she wishes all the best to Mr. Marsh, who is retiring at the end of this month, and to Mr. McLaughlin, whose family remained in Phoenix when he took the MSNBC gig in Secaucus, N.J., more than two years ago.

Mr. Marsh plans to visit family in Ohio and spend time with his grandson before returning to Central Florida to “and relax on the back porch and listen to thunderstorms without having to worry about having to run a crawl across the bottom of the screen.”

As for Mr. McLauglin, the return to Phoenix and his wife and two toddlers is “a really easy personal move. It’s a tough professional move.”

He’ll make his debut on KPHO Sept. 5.

That’s the same night as someone named Katie Couric makes her ballyhooed debut as the anchor of “CBS Evening News.”

Can you say Sean Who?

No ‘Nightly’ Domino Effect

ABC News announced last week that it is, after 28 years, taking “Tonight” out of the title of its flagship newscast, making it “World News With Charles Gibson,” in an allusion to the newscast’s 24-7 availability and update-ability via ABCNews.com.

In was instinctive for The Insider to call CBS News and NBC News, which keep increasing the up-to-the-minuteness and ’round-the-clockness of their flagship programs, to ask if those considerations might tempt them to take “Evening” and “Nightly” out of their respective titles.

The response was, in a word, “no.”

CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus took the serious road. “‘CBS Evening News’ is one of the great brands in the entire industry, and we have no plans to change it,” he said.

A “Nightly News” spokeswoman issued the following response, without attribution: “Alert the media-they’ve come up with the secret formula. It’s called New Coke.”