Sun Spots and Honesty


It’s a simple concept but a difficult one for some, particularly corporations. During the KU vs MU Border Showdown today the Kansas City CBS affiliate KCTV5 switched from the final minutes of a very close match up to the Michigan vs Michigan State game. The Topeka affiliate continued showing KU vs MU. Living in Lawrence, obviously this caused a huge uproar. Fans immediately posted on CBS and KCTV5 facebook pages and a twitter storm began.

Initially KCTV5 tweeted the following in response:
KCTV5 is looking into the why the end of the KU-Missouri game was pre-empted. We will update with more information as soon as we can.

Shortly thereafter they tweeted this:
RT @KCTV5: KCTV/CBS would like to apologize for pre-empting of the Border War. CBS experienced Satellite isses due to Sun Spots.
However, this tweet is now mysteriously missing from their timeline.

And this:
VP/Gen Man Bobby Totsch says the station regrets the loss of signal and will won’t happen again. Again, our sincere apologies.*

*tweets copy/pasted verbatim

A little background: I’ve worked for a cable company for the past nine years. Solar interference is a very real thing that happens twice a year, in the spring and fall, for a couple weeks at a time. Typically, solar interference will cause tiling, pixelation, picture freezing or total loss of picture intermittently over that time frame. There is nothing anyone can do to predict exactly how and when the signal will be affected. And there is absolutely nothing technical that can be done to prevent it in the future. It will happen, it is annoying, accept it and move on. I can’t share the wiki article I wrote for our Customer Care Advocates but this explains solar interference pretty well.

If solar interference (sun spots) are unpredictable, how could KCTV5 know exactly when to cut over to the Michigan-Michigan State game? How could they know at what point to put up the announcement slate and how could the commentator know when to announce the switch?

Moreover, how can Bobby Totsch promise it will never happen again?

Honesty. What is so wrong with admitting someone made a mistake? Now you’ve screwed up AND you’ve (in my opinion) lied, two actions difficult to recover from. As my twitter bio states I am an advocate of transparency, authenticity and engagement. Corporations need to understand sometimes telling the truth sucks but in the end people will respect and trust you because of it.

Read KCTV5 and CBS’s apology here and on


About sarahkscoular

Sarah K. Scoular (@sarahkscoular on twitter) has 15 years customer service experience including face to face, over the phone and via digital interactions. Sarah is currently Enterprise Community Manager for uCern, the enterprise 2.0 social platform where Cerner Associates and Clients connect and collaborate. She ensures the 100,000+ member network is connecting people with others in similar roles or special interest groups, sharing information and finding answers to the questions they're looking for. Sarah helps others who are helping to revolutionize Health Care. Outside of work, Sarah is the wife of a graphic designer/laser engraver and the mother of seven-year-old Madeleine. She loves to cook clean, plant-strong foods and is a certified yoga and Les Mills BODYFLOW instructor.
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5 Responses to Sun Spots and Honesty

  1. Tracie says:

    The biggest thing that bothered me is that right when they cut out, they announced that they were switching over to the other game.

  2. Pingback: Border War and Sunspots

  3. Great blog post! It’s so much easier to be honest–you don’t have to worry about getting caught

  4. Amanda says:

    Amen! They should have been honest from the beginning. Thanks to Twitter, I knew that the Topeka station hadn’t switched, but really, why couldn’t they just say that someone screwed up? It’s not like we don’t all know that already.

  5. The way they handled this entire this is so lame. Mistakes happen. Just own them.

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