'Can I go back to my regular job?' Sports anchor goes viral for blizzard coverage
"I've got good news and I've got bad news," television sports anchor Mark Woodley said while reporting on eastern Iowa's winter storm on Thursday. "The good news is that I can still feel my face," he said. "The bad news is I kind of wish I couldn't."
A video of Woodley making such quips while on the job, working for a local NBC station KWWL news, in Waterloo, has gone viral on Twitter after he was recruited to help with the station's coverage of a blizzard for a day.
The popular tweet, posted by Woodley himself, features a compilation video of Woodley cracking jokes while reporting on the weather from outside the KWWL building. It has more than 180,000 likes and has been viewed over 25 million times since Woodley posted it Thursday morning.
He brought the humor he usually uses in his own show — the one he referred to when he quipped, "Can I go back to my regular job?" — to cover the storm.
"This is a really long show," he said to preface the 3 1/2-hour broadcast. "Tune in for the next couple hours to watch me progressively get crankier and crankier."
He says he woke up at 2:30 am to report for his first hit on air that day, which was at 4:34 a.m. "I don't know how you guys get up at this time every single day," he said in a talk-back with KWWL's Today in Iowa co-anchor Ryan Witry. "I didn't even realize there was a 3:30 also in the morning until today!"
Woodley told NPR that he tweeted the video thinking maybe 20 to 30 people would give it a heart.
"I don't have many Twitter followers," Woodley said. "The tweet that I sent out prior to this one had – and still has – five likes on it." (The tweet had 10 likes, the last time NPR checked.)
Within a couple hours, accounts with far greater followings, like director Judd Apatow and former NBA player Rex Chapman, had retweeted his post. "
That's when everything started going nuts," Woodley said. "It was unbelievable."
He wants people to know that the video is a supercut and doesn't reflect the rest of his live coverage during the hazardous weather event.
"I know there are people out there working hard. Running the plows, making sure people can get to work. I know it's a serious storm," he said. "The rest of these reports, you know, reflected these things. ... I just want people to know that I didn't think this was entirely a joke."
Woodley, who has covered sports for about 20 years, has stepped in to report on other topics when needed.
"We reflect, I think, a lot of industries across the country who since the pandemic have had trouble getting people back to work," he said. "So people are pitching in in areas where they wouldn't normally."
In fact, Woodley said he filmed most of his live shots that morning himself before his manager got in to work. He was alone on the street, delivering his jokes to just the camera.
John Huff, the station's vice president and general manager, helped behind the scenes when he arrived.
"All that was on my mind at first was getting Mark inside the building right after each of his live reports," Huff told NPR in an emailed statement. "Contrary to what some people thought, we did not have him outside for the entire 3 and a half hours!"
Huff explained that he and the station's news director, Andrew Altenbern, considered asking Woodley to report more conventionally, but decided that the humor gave the coverage a "unique element."
Despite Woodley's viral success, KWWL hasn't asked him to cover the weather again — which, because of the shift's early call time, Woodley said is a relief.
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