We'd known Friday temperatures would break 115 for a some time and that it would be the hottest day of the year up to that point. And as the rest of us planned our weekends or accepted the reality of record-hot days with a shrug, Phoenix's wiliest reporters plotted ways to explain just how hot it would be.
Broadcast news coverage on Friday was both ridiculous, funny, and unnerving. At the least, it was an interesting look at what lengths local TV news outlets will go to grab eyeballs and how shallow their bags of tricks have become.
Here's the lede of one online article:
A blazing heat wave expected to send the mercury soaring to nearly 120 degrees in Phoenix and Las Vegas settled over the West on Friday, threatening to ground airliners and raising fears that people and pets will get burned on the scalding pavement.
Oh, yes, burned on the scalding pavement. Quick solutions: indoors or shoes.
Channel 5 did our thinking for us, and jotted a list of factors to keep in mind during the weekend heat.
Garden hose: The water in it can be rather hot for the first few seconds after turning it on.
Engine coolant: Make sure the coolant is full . . .
It seems every year local TV stations cook something on the ground or ask folks at various water parks how they beat the heat. This year, Channel 12 constructed a live feed of a 300-pound block of ice melting. The banner read, "LIVE: Ice vs. Arizona Heat. Yes, you are really watching ice melt."
A poll also gauged viewers thoughts as to how long they expected it to take for the ice block to melt.
"1-2 hours?" "2-3 hours?" "3-5 hours?" "More than 5 hours?"
Our favorite -- and the correct -- answer: "Who knows, who cares?"
The live feed showed a diligent reporter on the corner of Second and Van Buren streets taking measurements of the melting progress. One major problem was that the news team had placed the ice block in the shade.
Fox 10 chose to show what Arizona would look like during the apocalypse, when Satan sets ablaze all the desert sinners. Apparently, a fiery red mist will work its way north and eventually torch us all.
Crystal Cruz with Channel 3 spent Friday at a nudist colony. We give her bonus points for not placing a camera in front of an inert object and narrating it to the Valley. But who wants to spend a hot, arid day with wrinkled and sweaty genitals on parade?
But local news did not leave us wanting. They did, in fact, cook something in the sun. Channel 3 came to the rescue to prove that it's possible to cook an egg on blacktop. And at the risk of seeming cliche, Channel 3 decided it would cook not only an egg but an entire breakfast -- complete with hourly updates.
10 a.m: Air temp 102 degrees. Food laid out.
11 a.m: Air temp 102 degrees. Addition of potatoes and bacon. Egg whites evaporated, cookies gaining composure. Tomato soup and grilled cheese have made no changes.
Fast-forward to 5 p.m.
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5 p.m: 115 degrees, ground temp 165.4 degrees. Final results -- egg is wilted, soup remains lukewarm, open potatoes stopped at half-browned, baked potato browned inside, grilled-cheese sandwich remained lightly toasted, cookies remained moist, popcorn did not pop, and bacon cooked fully (though it didn't taste as good).
A round of applause for Valley broadcast journalists. While cooling off over drinks at a downtown bar with a few local reporters, we decided that what we really want to see during the next round of heatwave stories:
Each local station will select one anchor to endure a day in a locked car until the sun sets. One bottle of water, one can of hair mousse, no way out. Stay tuned.