The Most Awkward Local TV News Moments Ever


When you see a headline that invites you to “Watch in Uncomfortable Delight as a News Anchor and a Weatherperson Repeatedly Go at Each Other on Live TV,” well, you click on that link, so bravo, Grantland. And the video delivers on the headline’s promise — as these things always do. There seems to be something uniquely combustible about a live local news telecast, whether it’s the unscripted banter that must bridge the segments, the fragility of big fish in small ponds, the ego that seems inevitable among those who want to do news and weather on television, or (more likely) a combination of all of the above. Whatever the reason, that petri dish has given us some pretty toxic live video clips over the years.

Grantland’s post hipped us to the passive-aggressive dynamic shared by Philadelphia’s NBC 3 anchor (and former Miss Pennsylvania) Nicole Brewer and the station’s meteorologist, Carol Erickson, which looks less like TV news and more like something out of Heathers.

Then again, the relationship between news readers and weather folks is often more than a little fraught. For another example, enjoy this peculiar interaction between WPTA (ABC Fort Wayne) anchor Melissa Long and chief meteorologist Curtis Smith; Long dislikes his forecast for an upcoming parade, and then has complaints about previous years (meteorologists don’t actually control the weather, right?), prompting a response that countless weather forecasters must think but never say: “Stick to the news!”

But in terms of outright hostility between on-air talent, you cannot top this classic bit of business from Good Day NY, in which anchor Jim Ryan berates reporter Dick Oliver for what he perceives a shoddy handling of a live interview. It’s never comfortable to watch someone get a dressing down; it’s even more so when the instigator mentions that they used to be their now-subordinate’s boss.

Frankly, New York television has given us some of the best (and most unfortunate) on-air news moments to date. Take, for example, WNBC institution Sue Simmons, who was doing a quickie promo for the evening newscast back in May 2008 with co-host Chuck Scarborough when someone (it’s still not clear who) did something she didn’t like (it’s still not clear what). Her response went viral, and she was soon moved to the station’s 6pm broadcast. She left WNBC when her contract expired last year.

And congratulations to you, Denver 9News meteorologist Ashton Altieri, on your viral Freudian slip.

Live TV — it’s hard! You’ve got to recite your copy correctly, with no chances for retakes, and you’ve got to make sure the technical cues are flawless, so the show goes right to tape as soon as you’re done. When neither of those happen, you end up with a moment like this one. (The best part may well be the anchor’s wide-eyed reaction.)

Nothing is worse, as a reporter doing a live shot, than a random (usually drunken) passerby wandering into your frame and deciding to wreck everything. So kudos to New Orleans reporter Jessica Sanchez (of CBS affiliate WKMG-TV) for fighting back, even if it made for an awfully awkward bit of airtime.

Hey, guess what: International local news can get testy and weird, too!

This should give you some idea of what it’d look like if Ted Baxter ever had to come out of a story about vaginal surgery.

But this list would be incomplete without the all-time classic from back in 2009, when WNYC anchor Ernie Anastos’s told weatherman Nick Gregory to do something that you can probably presume was intended as “keep plucking that chicken” (itself a bit of a non sequitur), but came out as something else entirely — something that got him endless replays on The Daily Show and elsewhere.

Those are just a few of the many awkward local TV interactions — let us know if we missed any in the comments.