Hurricanes mean it’s time for windswept TV reporters

This weekend’s extreme weather means it’s time for television reporters to be whipped by the wind as they shout over the roar of the storm to give their updates.

In 2004, Jay Leno joked on The Tonight Show: “Most normal people know how to evacuate during a hurricane. Not TV reporters. Why do these reporters stay? Do they think we don’t believe them that the wind is blowing?”

Leno then ran a clip featuring reporter Chris O’Connell being knocked down by the wind. O’Connell, who now works for Philadelphia’s Fox29, estimates he has covered about 50 hurricanes in his career. This weekend he will be reporting from the Jersey Shore, and has to pack with no expectation of power, food, or water.

“Which means flashlights, glowsticks, change of clothes, food, water,” said O’Connell. “One hurricane I lived off of Slim Jims and Laffy Taffy for three days. It was basically: whatever you can eat, you eat.”

Reporter Michael Conneen, now with WJLA in Washington, D.C., has also been in plenty of extreme conditions, such as blizzards and wildfires in Colorado and Arizona. He says its a rare opportunity to present news at the instant it is happening.

“In today’s television culture, a lot of it is scripted, a lot of it is planned out second by second,” said Conneen. “In an event like this you get to really get creative and truly tell stories as they happen.”

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