June 29, 1995 in City

Data Meister To Pinpoint TV Weather

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Tags:column

Do your achy-breaky joints tell you when rain is on the way?

Does the amount of fuzz on a caterpillar tell you if we’re in for a long winter?

If you answer yes to either question, a Spokane market analyst wants to pit your unorthodox skills against so-called weather experts.

Most people merely whine about the weather. Bill Hockett wants to kick some meteorological butt.

He’s out to expose mainstream forecasters as the inaccurate witch doctors many of us suspect them to be.

Hockett’s employees at Critical Data are tracking the batting averages of TV weather reporters for one year.

Do these know-it-alls with their fancy satellite photos and maps hit more than they miss? Or would we all be better off studying the entrails of a goat?

Hockett swears his study will be fair and square although he’s not betting on the professionals. “I don’t know of any other line of work,” he adds, “where you can be so blatantly wrong so often and still keep your job.”

Besides being a columnist, he means.

TV weathercasting is more show biz than science. Does anybody actually think KXLY weather babe Laura Ashley, a former Miss Alaska, got her job because of meteorological know-how?

“If you look closely,” says Hockett, “you’ll see the person giving you today’s weather report was selling slushies at the quickie mart the day before.”

Hockett’s mood has been overcast and stormy since a recent mass forecasting flop turned his vintage Mercedes into a waterbed with wheels.

Last week, TV stations and even this fine “Good Paper” predicted hot and sunny for Thursday.

Based on that consensus Hockett drove his ‘57 convertible to his office on Cowley. About 10 a.m., his wife telephoned to ask if he had the top up.

“No, why?” said Hockett, who was hard at work.

“Go look out the window,” she said.

Hockett shook his fist at the deluge and tore for the parking lot.

“I spent the next half hour toweling a half-inch of sunshine off of my leather interior,” he says. “Thank God these forecasters aren’t air traffic controllers or some profession where accuracy matters.”

Hockett is a curious man. When an advertisement claims nine out of 10 doctors agree on something, Hockett wants to know: Doctors of what? Where did they get their degrees? Where do they work?

Accurate information is the lifeblood of researching how the public thinks and spends money. Hockett’s clients include political candidates, inventors and capitalists trying to start or expand a business.

Polling data, for example, told him the recent attempt to incorporate the Spokane Valley would fall flat even though others were predicting a runaway success.

It’s about time somebody turned up the heat on these TV weather geeks.

Gloria Kraemer, a senior associate at Critical Data, will compile the daily forecasts into a database.

At the end of a year, Hockett will compare the actual weather for a given day with the predictions of pros like KREM’s Tom Sherry or KHQ’s Tim Adams and, say, an arthritic hardware salesman from Moses Lake.

Should the professionals show up the quacks, Hockett vows to publicly apologize while thwacking himself over the head repeatedly with an umbrella.

If the forecasters are dunderheads, well, it’s time for action.

Hockett wants TV executives to drop their weather report and fill the time slot with something more educational, entertaining and socially meaningful.

Juggling chimpanzees would be a good start.

Just don’t get rid of Laura. I’d tune in to watch that woman read the dictionary.

You unconventional forecasters can join the fun by calling Hockett at 838-2917.

, DataTimes


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