Tornados, the Bolder Boulder and Local TV Realities
Local television tends to shine when covering actual breaking news, as opposed to the sort that's overhyped in an attempt to get folks to tune in to evening updates even when nothing out of the ordinary is happening -- and that was certainly the case on May 22 in the wake of a tornado that cut a wide swath through Windsor, killing one person and causing enormous damage. I saw fine reportage on all five Denver news stations, including Channel 4, which got plenty of mileage out of helicopter-bound reporter Luan Akin the day before she wrapped up her thirty-year career at the station. A Channel 4 goodbye item reveals that Akin has taken a position with Tagawa Gardens in Parker. That's a mighty telling sign of the times for the broadcast industry.
So, too, is the end of Channel 4's live coverage of the Bolder Boulder, whose thirtieth anniversary race gets underway on Memorial Day, Monday, May 26.
Since 1982, Channel 4 has covered the Bolder Boulder live, and the broadcast's been an annual highlight -- the most complete and in-depth locally produced offering about a so-called "minor" sporting event (meaning one that doesn't involve football, baseball, basketball, hockey or auto racing). But, as Channel 4 head honcho Walt DeHaven told Rocky Mountain News critic emeritus Dusty Saunders earlier this month, the program didn't provide a lot of revenue -- and in an economic enviornment that recently caused the station to cut a handful of staffers, including sometime anchor Arturo Santiago, its unappealing costs vs. benefits ratio proved to be a death knell. Hence, the Bolder Boulder's move to FSN Rocky Mountain, which will air a two-hour highlight package at 8:30 p.m. on the 26th as opposed to the four hours of live stuff that Channel 4 previously offered.
Of course, good tornado coverage is more important than watching the Bolder Boulder live from the comfort of one's couch. But until recently, Channel 4 was able to provide both, rather than having to make a choice. That's not a surprise, but it is a shame. -- Michael Roberts