With the increasing intensity of severe weather across the globe, it is more important than ever for TV broadcasters to have alerting solutions in place to keep viewers safe and informed. One critical solution that stations must have to stay connected with their viewers is an onscreen crawling alert. These alerts deliver vital information that is seamlessly incorporated into programming as soon as a National Weather Service alert is issued.

Having a reliable alerting tool is especially important for the midwestern market, a region which experiences higher rates of severe threats. With intense weather comes an inevitable surge in viewers, raising the stakes for meteorologists to deliver accurate, relevant information to audiences that rely on them.

But when WKRC in Cincinnati’s severe alerting system started having reliability issues–warnings that failed to trigger, garbled characters on the crawl–the search began for a better tool that could deliver real-time information and retain their audience’s trust.


Discovering a giant leap forward in reliability

Having previously used The Weather Company’s LiveWire system–which WKRC Chief Meteorologist John Gumm described as “reliable like an old Honda Accord with 300K miles on it but was still running and would never let you down”–WKRC zeroed in on the next generation of severe alerting systems: Max Alert Live.

Max Alert Live is directly integrated with the National Weather Service, allowing stations to more rapidly broadcast severe weather news. Alerts are customizable, automated, and can be configured remotely in the cloud giving meteorologists maximum flexibility.

Sample WKRC on-screen alert.

Example of an on-screen alert

In addition to on-screen text alerts, Max Alert Live can display high-resolution maps, county-by-county radar, and hurricane tracks adjacent to the alert crawl all created within the familiar Max interface. This means local weather teams can deliver precise, visual information without needing to break into programming.

Above all, Max Alert Live offered the reliability that WKRC prioritized.


Changing the game without impacting programming

The new severe alerting system has been indispensable, especially during spring 2024’s volatile weather. “Last I checked, the state of Ohio has been one of the top states for the number of confirmed tornadoes this spring,” said Gumm.

The station has utilized many of the tool’s features, including government alerts and DMA maps, but finds the county-by-county tour to be particularly useful in offering a more localized frame of reference.

WKRC started developing its look and different templates for the crawl depending on programming, finding Max Alert Live to be highly flexible. Gumm also appreciated the responsiveness of The Weather Company team and saw his feedback implemented into the tool.

The station’s parent company Sinclair has now purchased the tool for seventy other stations.

Max Alert Live’s remote capabilities have proven essential to WKRC: “As meteorologists now, we’re working almost 24-hours a day,” said Gumm “Just this past Saturday, we had a situation where we had some isolated severe weather with flash flooding…so, I’m at home and I go onto Max Alert Live from my PC and I change the scene to make it better fit what we had on network programming at the time.”

He has changed the location of the crawl while at home watching sports coverage, shifting its location depending on, for example, whether the event is an NFL game–which puts game information and scoring on the bottom of the screen–or a soccer match–which puts information at the top.

“In the world of broadcast meteorology in 2024,” he said, “you need to be able to access everything anywhere on the planet and Max Alert Live gives us that capability which is fantastic.”

WKRC Local 12 logo

About WKRC

WKRC-TV is a CBS-affiliated television station in Cincinnati, Ohio that provides local news, weather, traffic, community, sports, and CBS programming. It’s also known as Local 12, and its virtual channel is 12. WKRC-TV covers the Cincinnati, Ohio area, including Avondale, Blue Ash, Bond Hill, Camp Washington, Cheviot, Cleves, and Colerain Township.

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