A Brief History of School Closings

Remember huddling around the radio listening to school closings? It wasn’t that long ago that you’d have to wait and wait for Don Weeks or somebody to give you word that school was shut down. Five minutes… ten minutes… they would drone on and on. God forbid you missed it. Then you’d wait and wait and wait some more.

TV news made school closings on the radio obsolete by putting the information on the bottom of the screen — but the new technology had unintended consequences. The idea was to encourage people to watch your station, but instead they watched every station. Rather than sit and wait patiently, people stood in front of the TV playing snow closing roulette, racing between five channels trying to find the one that hit their school first.

But as with all media, the Internet has been a game changer for school closing information. Who would stand in front of the TV madly changing channels when you can just get online and see if school is closed?

Now it’s changed again. Today I get a text message that tells me school is cancelled. While you’re wasting valuable seconds pointing and clicking, I’m just looking at my phone. Hahaha. Chumps.

It’s my understanding that NBC Olympic Czar Dick Ebersol has a plan that could make TV school closings relevant again: keep the information from your viewers and broadcast it in primetime, packaged with emotional segments that set up the drama of school closings and keep you watching all night. Sounds like a great idea.

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