Seems that I have to make this post, or something like it, every few years. Maybe I'm just too sensitive to what's wrong, and actually do care that the status quo is bad, and no one else seems to care enough to make it better. Maybe I'm just old and cranky. Anyhow---
This time it's the play by plays at Fan & Mortar. It's one thing to announce the occurrence of a possible event-- Bottom Vent eruption or Main Vent splashing or something definitely out of the ordinary. But there is no reason, especially this year when those geysers are semi-dormant. There is no reason to keep announcing the exact same sequence of events, down to the timing in some cases, when none of them has ever lead into an eruption. At some point you've got to conclude that the sequence of events doesn't lead to an eruption, no matter how hard you wish for it.
The same goes for walking up onto what you think is an event, and beginning the play-by-play. The people who tend to go to see Artemisia early in the morning are the worse culprits in this regard. Last year, when F&M were active, one person reported several events, in loving detail, the day after an eruption. There has never been an eruption on an interval anywhere close to that short since the late 1970s, so there is no reason to think that you are the lucky person who just happens to walk up on the one that establishes the new record short interval. The proper conclusion upon seeing such activity is assume that you are not going to see the eruption, to wait, and enjoy your incredible good fortune of seeing activity with Powerball level odds.
One the main culprits told me that I could always turn off my radio. Fine. I'll do that. And I'll also not announce any unusual activity I do see. And I've seen more than just about anyone. When I get on the radio to make an announcement, it's because it matters, and I want people to know about it. Last year it was for the long delay in Vent's start. At the time, it was something so new in Grand's behavior that I had absolutely no idea what could happen next. After bursts? No Vent at all? I wanted to make sure that anyone who cared had the chance to share in what could be a unique event. (That it turns out nothing else happened is beside the point.)
This year I have called out as many F&M eruptions as anyone else has. True it was in the middle of the night, but people were listening, and were able to act on that info. But if people think the solution to their stupidity is for me to opt out, then I will opt out all the way. And I will enjoy those eruptions of Giant, and Giantess, and Link, and Splendid and Purple Pools and not feel any guilt about no one else there with me.
What is the point of the play-by-play? Years ago, when Giant was active, we (and I did it too) gave out play by play of the activity during a Giant hot period. I know that in 2001, it became almost a joke about how every hot period was the same, lasting about 4 minutes and ending in disappointment. But it was the time that Dave Leeking announced a hot period that lasted longer that got my attention. Something different happened, and that meant that hanging around in the Lower Ham's parking lot was not a reasonable thing to be doing. I got only bike and got down to Oblong and saw the start of one of the few Giant eruptions that year. (Several people saw me take off, and figured out that something unusual was going on, and got down there right behind me.)
I'm not looking forward to that part of the reactivation of Giant, because it is going to also get the play-by-play treatment, especially in the early years when eruptions are infrequent. On the other hand, when it or Fan & Mortar are active, and the opportunity that this could be the eruption is great, I do want that info.
It's true that I don't announce mundane geyser times. Mostly for two reasons. One is I don't feel the need to be first to announce any time (even before the eruption actually starts, in some cases.) There always seems to be someone, somewhere, who ends up making the announcement, so why should I contribute to the noise and chatter I find so distasteful. The other is that I don't think the radios should be used as some sort of electronic log book with the VC acting to transcribe these announcements. If people want an automated log book, there are better, more efficient and less obtrusive ways to do it with modern phones. (I know, I'm in the mobile applications development biz and have done some of those things, and investigated others.)
What we need is the use of some actual judgement (I understand these days that being "judgmental" is a mortal sin for a lot of people, but I don't belong to that religion, either.) Make the event call. Maybe make a second call like we started doing with Beehive's Indicator. (Note that I was one, if not "the" person who suggested doing that, after I missed an eruption because I missed the first call.) Then not say anything until either something different happens, or it become obvious that no eruption is going to happen. (The latter provides some closure.)
The judgement in this case is on actually providing useful information. It's obvious, by the lack of anyone actually going down to F&M to see these events in person that the information is not useful.
But another solution would be to make the event announcement, then switch out to a separate channel for the play-by-play. Switch back if things look good, or maybe just every 15 minutes or so give a quick update, especially if there really is a chance of activity. Then anyone who doesn't want to go down to F&M or Giant or whatever feature it is can hear the play by play, and maybe change their mind. And the rest of us won't have to listen to as much radio chatter.
I've also got a solution to the Visitor Cathedral's incessant "repeat the call", but it's a nuclear option that I will give another year before I exercise it. But I'm putting on notice, that come next year this time, if a solution there isn't found, I'm using it.
As for "switch to 5"-- don't be so furshlugginer cheap and buy a radio with a scan option. You get a good one for the price of a single night in a Lodge cabin. Stay on your private channel with all your friends and hangers-on and scan both it and 4 for info. Switch to 4 to announce a time, then switch back. Or use your phones, especially in the off hours when calls usual get through.