Breaking news during non-newscast programming means cutting into regular programming, and not everyone is happy about it. Today when Eyewitness News pre-empted “Young and the Restless” to bring you live coverage of the potentially dangerous situation at Central Connecticut State University, viewers called in angry that their soap opera was being interrupted. In this case, we interrupted two daily dramas. “Bold and the Beautiful” was the other.
This is nothing new, in fact it dates back decades. It may be hard to believe, but viewers called to complain about our breaking news the afternoon of November 22, 1963, the day President Kennedy was assassinated. Our former news director and retired vice-president of news Dick Ahles recently told me as Walter Cronkite had America on the edge of their seats waiting to learn whether their president was dead or alive, viewers inundated the station with calls complaining “As the World Turns” was being interrupted. Really. Yes, as Cronkite was reporting the historic and traumatic events that transpired in Dallas, there were some in Connecticut more concerned about the fictional events in the fictional town of Oakdale.
Breaking news is what we do, and for urgent matters we do cut into programming to bring you crucial information. I realize it can be disappointing to miss Victor and Nikki’s eighth marriage and divorce on “Young and the Restless” or menopausal Brooke defying reproductive odds with yet another accidental impregnation by one of her in-laws on “Bold and the Beautiful,” but rest assured breaking into soap operas is something WFSB does not do lightly, or frequently, in fact it is a rare occurrence. However, we are always standing by ready to go when breaking news should happen.
Strangely today, our special report that we interrupted regular programming for was itself interrupted by wait for it.. …an emergency test. No joke.