When NBC's Brian Williams was a reporter at Channel 5 in Washington, DC in the early 1980s and I was a radio reporter at WTOP we talked many times while covering stories about our days as volunteer firefighters. He in New Jersey and me in Maryland. I assume Brian was thinking a bit about that this evening when the East Coast live feed of the NBC Nightly News was disrupted by the fire alarm sounding.
It started right shortly after the broadcast opened with the story on American Airlines and continued through most of the program. But Brian Williams, ever the professional, kept his cool. The Poynter Institute's Al Tompkins has an account of the unusual newscast. Here's an excerpt:
Viewers started reacting, amazed that Williams could keep going. Why didn’t somebody smash the alarm, they asked on Twitter?
The alarm buzzed on, through the Herman Cain story, through the lead-in to a story about the siege at the British Embassy in Iran.
Williams took a commercial break. When he came back, so did the alarm. Each time, Williams did exactly what he should do, he kept his cool, reminded viewers everything was OK and kept going, even while his voice was overwhelmed by the sound as he introduced a piece on Mexican drug wars.
Knowing my audience, I am sure some of you will say that he should have set a better example for the public and evacuated 30 Rock when the alarm went off. A good point, but somehow I don't think that was likely to happen. The show must go on.