Tracking Hurricane Sandy; Kaity Tong, David Ushery Shine

Forced to evacuated, I had plenty of time to monitor television coverage of Hurricane Sandy.

You probably woke up this morning to stations locked in “wall-to-wall” mode, but that was not the case last night. Unlike last year’s Hurricane Irene (when I was holed up in a hotel), Sandy did not lead to an all-nighter by the area stations.

Here is how they took to the air this time.

Kaity Tong was a calming presence, anchoring a two-hour edition of the News at Ten on WPIX.  As was the case with Irene, WPIX’s coverage did not include Jodi Applegate.

Tong, as a solo anchor, was given an assist by reporter Dan Mannarino, who handled some phone interviews and other information for viewers. WPIX double-teamed the audience with veteran experience from Mr. G and Craig Allen.  WPIX was the only game in town until 11 p.m., as WNYW/Channel 5 was televising the final game of the World Series.

While the storm moved closer to New York, the other channels opted for prime-time network scheduling. At 11 p.m., WCBS/Channel 2 anchors Maurice DuBois and Kristine Johnson, first appearing at halftime of the New York Jets game, led the station’s one-hour special Sandy newscast. Thereafter, WCBS kept a crawl on the screen until the morning team resumed coverage at 4 a.m.

It was also a one-hour newscast on WABC/Channel 7, covering the serious nature of the storm with Bill Ritter and Sade Baderinwa on the air.

WCBS and WABC opted for other programming at midnight, but WNBC/Channel 4 maintained continuing coverage. Curiously, David Ushery, who did his typical outstanding job, and Erika Tarantal, were the anchor team on duty. The duo manned the desk earlier in the day. However, if you blinked or changed channels late in the afternoon, you missed Chuck Scarborough and Shiba Russell leading the  station’s storm coverage. WNBC kept the coverage going until approximately 12:45 a.m.

As  many people were hunkered down for the night, Channel 5 finally hit the air at 12:35 a.m. with Harry Martin and Christina Park. They also remained on the air for an hour. Greg Kelly and Dari Alexander were no-shows.