First Spring Storm Coverage: Maitland and Zahara Struggle With New Hires
It's never baptism by fire for weather coverage in the QCA. It's trial by water, hail, wind, lightning, and tornados. And the two leading local networks are having growing pains trying to replace staff members in the Weather Department. KWQC said goodbye to Greg Dutra earlier this year, replacing his position with Dorrell Wenniger, and Terry Swails left WQAD last year along with Cassie Heiter, and Chief Meteorologist James Zahara has been mentoring two new faces.
I don't think you'd get an argument from either Erik Maitland (KWQC TV6) or James Zahara (WQAD TV8) that their newest staff members have a long way to go with on-the-spot continuing coverage. While both Dorrell and Kelsey Woodard were confused and rushed, Erik has much more work to do with his heir apparent than Zahara.
Wenniger fumbled every aspect of live weather coverage, from delivery to accuracy, fumbling and searching for words, and interrupting the calmer, more authoritative Maitland. Maitland tried to cover his frustration, but a few times showed obvious disappointment with the presentation of the most important story of the day. You may not see Wenniger around much longer. It was that bad. Weather is pretty damn important in the QCA, and while a few mis-pronunciations are tolerable, he seemed unfamiliar with even what I can only assume are typical alerts from the NWS. There isn't much here for a "We brought the weather to you first" commercial.
I've never seen Maitland, in my opinion the best forecaster in the Quad Cities, so out of sorts. There can only be one reason for that.
Zahara, on the other hand, will not be celebrating the debut of Kelsey Woodard either. Chemistry is so important, and if you can't add anything, the second most important thing is to just be quiet and help with radar, which neither newbie could do. Kelsey needs a tutorial on the names of the towns around here. I'm surprised that isn't the first thing both of these weather kids would do when they step off the plane. When you miss a name in a school closing, it's an inconvenience, in an area with an impending tornadic storm, there just isn't room for error.
James and Erik both deserve a bottle of whatever the poison they choose for surviving tonight's storms in and out of the studio, and it might help to hope for no more severe weather this Spring.