February's 2015 Houston television sweeps period has been dominated by potholes. Hopefully there won't be a dip in the ratings (See what I did there?).
A reader wrote to me about the popular topic:
Ha, I joke but is it February pothole month in Houston or something? Of course, this is Houston, they're going to report on the same stories but pothole stories, all the stations all at once?The big 3 - KPRC 2, KHOU 11 and KTRK abc13 have all driven across Houston, and nearly ripped up their news vehicle's tires, to find out where the most torn up roads are in H-town.
KHOU 11 kicked off sweeps by filling its first hole on the old sweeps calendar with the bad road story. The Gannett station even sent this press release to the Houston Chronicle ahead of time. Then created a section on its website called Pothole Patrol and hashtag #11PotholePatrol dedicated to the decaying problem.
KPRC 2 followed a few days later with its own Pothole Patrol story detailing its year long investigation into the problem and which roads are being repaired.
The next day, KTRK abc13 came in with a follow up to its pothole investigation from last April. Reporter Ted Oberg even sat in a pot hole.
Houston's Bumpy Broken Pothole Process takes too long to fix your street. Join Us at 10 @abc13houston to find out why pic.twitter.com/FjuARYD0QU
— Ted Oberg (@tedoberg) February 3, 2015
Each station has continued to do stories on potholes through the February book.
Hey, potholes have always been an issue in Houston. I produced a story on potholes with Patrick Nolan more than a decade ago for channel 13. Countless stories and weekly segments were done way before that and continue to this day, but the problem seems to get worse every year thanks to 2011 drought conditions, the recession and aging roads.
Last March, Mayor Annise Parker said on News 88.7 KUHF's Houston Matters the city was fixing potholes as fast as possible but more and more kept popping up. However, thanks to the ReBuild Houston initiative, more money would be available. Then in November, she returned to the show and told host Craig Cohen:
"We're putting more money than we ever have in the history of Houston toward street and drainage work and I would say that in the next two to three years, you're going to see a tremendous impact. So, I like to say the next mayor is going to look like a genius. However, it also means there are going to be lots and lots of streets under construction."
Well, even after the mayor made that statement, the stories this February seemed to have hit a hole in the road. Wednesday, Parker addressed the problem once again.
"This is my issue, we're going to deal with it," Parker told KHOU at city hall. "I intend to have this fixed while I'm in office."
KHOU reported Parker has taken ownership of the problem and set a deadline to tackle it. So thank you February sweeps. Now I can go get some brotox to celebrate.