Mom got a call bright and early this morning from our neighborhood equivalent of Mrs. Rachel Lynde, with the news that Geoff Fox has been “fired”. I was in no mood this morning to hear any of “Mrs. Lynde”‘s news – but this got my attention.
It’s not quite true, depending on how you look at it: after 26 years on the air with WTNH Channel 8 as meteorologist, he was informed yesterday that his contract is not being renewed. His current one is over at the end of February, and he will be on the air until then, and that’s it. And I’m more ticked off by that than I would have thought I would be.
With all its many flaws, Channel 8 has been our news station my whole life primarily because the other two in the area are based in Hartford, and, theoretically, 8 – based out of New Haven, much closer to us – is going to be more relevant to us. It doesn’t really pan out that way (heaven knows the traffic reports never, ever did me a damn bit of good), but it’s become habit. It’s part of the pattern. And for 26 years Geoff Fox has been their kind of goofy, very geeky, often genuinely funny main Weather Guy. I believe Dr. Mel is still officially the Chief Meteorologist, but with his age and fragility he’s rarely onscreen, at least when I’m watching, so the forecasts have usually been done by Fox, Matt Scott (the one whose name I kept assigning to the 11th Doctor’s actor), and Gil Simmons – mostly Fox. I liked Matt Scott, and he left last month to go to WPLR – and now this. Leaving us with the new guy I think I’ve seen once (and who obviously failed to make an impression), and, heaven help us, Gil Simmons, who … (Be nice.) I don’t like Gil Simmons. At all.
I always liked Geoff Fox. As witness my proofreader posts, I’m fairly merciless on News Channel 8 or whatever they’ve decided they’re calling themselves these days – but he’s actually one of the few aspects of the evening news I can’t complain about. Quite the opposite: for one thing, he’s been a lone voice for many years reminding people that yes, Virginia, there is a space program. He is apparently a great big space geek – how could I not be fond of him? This is a country which has completely forgotten what it was like to be the first in orbit and the first on the moon, or the first at anything in space. This is a country which is told there is water on Mars and, while I’m having palpitations in a corner, says “Neat. Why do we care?” We have been relegated to hitching rides from other countries – the countries we used to spur ourselves to compete against – to the space station we helped to build. (*ahem* Where’d that soapbox come from?) His former colleague Scott was shocked, shocked I say, when there was a story right before his weather report one night about the last few shuttle launches; he had no idea the space program was ending. When I interviewed for my current job, I took note of the fact that there was a space shuttle in the logo; at the end of the interview they mentioned that the company was in the process of changing that logo. I said “Oh – because the shuttle’s being retired?” And they were surprised. I was, apparently, the only one they’d interviewed who knew about that. We’ve gone from Gemini and Apollo to … Lethe.
So, yeah, I’ve always had a fondness for Geoff Fox. He always makes note of meteor showers and eclipses and other phenomena to be watched out for. He never uses the truly obnoxious bouncing animations on the eight-day forecast board to mark holidays (I’m looking right at you, Simmons). He’s sharp, and funny, and able to take the many technical glitches the newscasts are prone to in stride. He doesn’t like snow, unlike some of the other boobs out there whose main desire from September to May seems to be for the world’s biggest blizzard on their watch. He’s been, if peripherally, a part of my life for well over half the time I’ve been around. I can’t help really, really hoping that Channel 8 is rocked on its heels by the backlash from this, on surface, astoundingly stupid idea (I’d love to know what their reasoning is), and recants. But I can’t help thinking that even if they do, even if they call him in and apologize prettily and offer him a re-up, it would be a bad idea for him to accept. For myself, I’d like to see things not change for once. But … that aside, it would be really nice if his dream job came along and he was able to laugh quietly to himself over how things turned out.
But I do dislike Gil Simmons. More, I hate change. If I had my way (which I won’t, really), if Geoff Fox really does leave (denial ain’t just a river in Egypt) we’d just watch Cash Cab in the evening and go off the internet for local news … We’ll have to see what the brilliant minds of WTNH do, and if necessary (and it will be if Simmons is given more air time) audition the other two stations. I sense a boost in viewership coming on for them.
WTNH needs a great deal more than just a proofreader … Between the evident idiocy of this decision and the fact that this decision releases one of their more intelligent voices – it’s starting to seem like they could use a massive infusion of intelligence.