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Published: Monday, 7/26/2004

Channel 36 finds humor in local TV's 'radar wars'

WUPW-TV, Channel 36, is providing some comic relief to the "weather war" between two of its competitors.

In a spoof reminiscent of an old Saturday Night Live "commercial," the Fox affiliate began airing a promo last week that likely will score points with viewers who have grown weary of the "Our radar system is better than yours!" spots on WTVG-TV, Channel 13, and WTOL-TV, Channel 11.

Last month WTVG unveiled "Live Doppler 13,000" and launched a promotional campaign that took direct aim at WTOL, which has the only other live radar in the market. WTVG has been relentless in its chest-beating over its $500,000 weather tool, and WTOL has countered with promos reminding viewers that it was the first station with a live radar.

"We were looking for a creative way to let people know we're still here," WUPW news director Jose Suarez said. "It's fun, irreverent, and a different way of getting our message out."

In the spoof, WUPW talks of "Live Super Duper Whoppler Dopplar 14,000" that has "six whirly-whirls sweeping the skies, and the ability to slice right through the storm in thirds."

Truth is, WUPW doesn't have a live radar. (It uses the National Weather Service's radar, just like WNWO-TV, Channel 24.) But Suarez said he'll put chief meteorologist Jeff George's forecasts up against anyone in the market.

"People are sick of the hype," Suarez said. "They just want the weather."

John Colling, WUPW's creative services director, said the promo will air 10 to 12 times a day over the next three weeks. Look for two other weather-related spoofs in the coming months.

"Hopefully, they'll take it in the spirit it was intended," said Colling, a former WTVG employee.

How did WTVG news director Brian Trauring react? "I have no problem with it at all," he said. "They're not claiming to have the best equipment. They're just saying everyone else is making a bunch of noise -- and they're right."

The way Trauring sees it, any publicity is good publicity.

"The more attention paid to what's going on, the better it is for us," he said. "People will figure it out. The more they compare, the better it is for us."

HARDWARE HUNT: Toledo stations have received 10 regional Emmy nominations for work done in 2003. The awards, sponsored by the Cleveland chapter of the National Television Academy, will be presented in September.

Four of the nominations are in the same category: "Outstanding Daily Newscast / Market 41-plus." WNWO, WUPW, WTOL, and WTVG will vie for a regional Emmy. WUPW is going for its third consecutive victory in this category.

WTVG is up for four other awards. Carty Finkbeiner is a finalist in two categories, "Editorial/Commentary" and "Public Affairs Program." Diane Wilson received a nomination in "General Reporting" for "323rd Welcome Home." Rob Powers is up for the "Best Sportscaster" award.

WNWO anchor Jim Blue was nominated in the "News Series/Hard News" category for "Caught in the Sex Web."

WTOL's Ian Smith is a finalist in the "Best Videographer" category.



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