Winter Weather Coverage: Live on the Road for WRAL Crews

Leyla Santiago & John Cox

WRAL-TV’s Leyla Santiago & John Cox have a little fun with the camera while on winter weather duty for Drive 5.

The freezing temps and rain made for slick roads and extended news coverage several days for the WRAL News staffers last week.  WRAL-TV News Photographer John Cox and WRAL-TV Reporter Leyla Santiago had a little fun with the camera during their stints together on Drive 5 on Wednesday and Thursday, January 14 and 15, 2015.  Capcom spotted a fun picture Cox had posted on Facebook and asked the pair what it’s really like behind the scenes of winter weather coverage on the Big 5.  Here’s what the Drive 5 duo had to say:

From New Photographer John Cox
If you have to cover weather, Drive 5 is as comfortable way to do it as any.  For a good bit of the day you’re in a nice warm, dry vehicle and not out in the elements as much.  When we do stumble on a problem spot, a wreck, an icy spot or whatever we do stop and shoot some “real video” to feed in and for our later stories, so we do get to get cold, wet or better yet, sometimes both.   It certainly is better (more comfortable at least) than standing on the side of the road for hours on end.  There are several challenges to it though; we’re actually out looking for trouble.  We try to find slippery spots, flooded spots whatever the problem is that day, so there’s a certain level of tension driving in sketchy conditions – especially for hours on end.  The last thing we want to have happen is being in an accident on live TV.

The other challenge is the time sitting in the car.  With at least 4.5 hours (5.5 on Wednesday) of news in the mornings we can be “on” for several hours with only an occasional bathroom break.  After a couple of hours it’s easy to get groggy and staying alert can be a real challenge.  Getting out in the cold can actually be a blessing as far as that goes.

Leyla Santiago & John Cox

Reporter Leyla Santiago pretends to be asleep for a selfie while she and Photographer John Cox drive around looking for traffic troubles.

The fun comes with the comradery with your partner.  We’re stuck in the car for many hours on end and being goofy and chatting about nonsense passes the time.  Having someone riding shotgun that doesn’t take themselves too seriously helps pass the time.  It’s also a bit of a rush to slip and slide, plow through snow and rain, and finish the day unscathed.

From Reporter Leyla Santiago
I am horrible with directions.  I’m constantly lost. I have no internal GPS system. Being with someone like John, who knows the area well, is a good thing. The hundreds of miles we have traveled together in Drive 5 have really helped me get to know the road system of our area.

John is right about sitting for hours. If we ever get a chance to stop, I get out and run in place, do jumping jacks, do a little dance, anything to get the blood flowin’. I’m glad John hasn’t captured that on camera!

Thanks to WRAL-TV’s John Cox for these capcom photos.

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