Blizzard of attention for Mark Woodley after viral post

KWWL-TV's Mark Woodley is pictured with five RAYGUN employees, including founder Mike Draper. Woodley’s viral Twitter clip spawned several shirts for sale at RAYGUN’s Cedar Falls location. (Photo from RAYGUN on Twitter)
Mike Hlas
The Gazette

For all the national and international attention KWWL-TV sportscaster Mark Woodley got over the last few days, the best thing acknowledgment he got may have been from his three kids.

“They didn’t care if Dad was doing sports in Eastern Iowa and he’s on TV,” Woodley said Monday. “That was normal for them. They don’t watch me. Dad wasn’t cool.

“Two days ago, when Olaf retweeted Dad on Twitter, that was big.”

Olaf the Snowman from Disney’s “Frozen” franchise is voiced by actor Josh Gad, who retweeted a montage of Woodley’s fateful clips from KWWL’s Thursday early-morning news show.

Woodley’s life was turned upside down after he tweeted his mashup of clips from 14 live stand-up segments outdoors during the vicious cold of Thursday morning. Instead of treating it as a sane assignment, Woodley griped throughout, and made it abundantly clear with humor that a reporter being outdoors to tell viewers it was brutally cold out was a bit absurd.

That struck a chord with, well, everyone. His Thursday morning tweet has gotten over 30 million views. That’s right, 30 million.

Kim Kardashian included Woodley’s rants on her Instagram story. News items were written about him on the websites of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, People, Sports Illustrated. Woodley appeared on TMZ Live Friday.

“US Reporter Serves Out Enough Salt To Tackle The Whole Blizzard In Hilarious Broadcast,” the United Kingdom’s Friday edition of Huffington Post proclaimed.

If you haven’t seen Woodley on the Internet somewhere over the last four days, you probably haven’t been online. One of the best things about it is he wasn’t trying to go global when he posted his series of cranky stand-ups. He did it for his usual friends and followers.

He first posted it on his personal Facebook page at 9:30 a.m. Thursday after his frozen foray into morning news was done. His sister-in-law persuaded him to add it to his Twitter feed a half-hour later.

“Things just started blowing up about three hours later,” Woodley said. “When Rex Chapman and Judd Apatow got hold of it, it’s been pretty crazy since.

“When I put it on Twitter I figured it would be like any of my tweets, 20, 30 likes, and it would go away.”

Instead, it kept Woodley busy all Christmas Eve day and part of Christmas itself with interview requests from near and far.

“My favorite interview has been with BBC World News,” he said, “which I did yesterday. It was weird being on television across the pond.”

Some tangible goodness has come from all this besides making a Waterloo sportscaster for most of the last 20 years who lives in his Dike hometown famous.

RAYGUN, the Iowa-based printing, design and T-shirt chain, quickly came up with “Mark Woodley: Sports & Blizzards” and “The Outdoors is Not Heated” T-shirts for sale, and Hurts Donut in Cedar Falls introduced a “Justice for Mark Woodley” longjohn.

Portions of the proceeds for the T-shirts will go to Cedar Bend Humane Society, where Woodley’s kids have served as volunteers. Part of the proceeds for the Hurts longjohns will go to Kadens Kloset in Waterloo, a nonprofit that provides clothes and supplies to foster and adoptive families.

“Kadens Kloset is run by a friend of mine, Kristle Davis,” Woodley said. “They do so many things for kids in this community. She works so hard. She is a real hero.

“To be able to help out a little bit has been the neatest part of all this.”

Now Woodley expects to ease back into his normal life as a sportscaster. He’ll be in Nashville later in the week to cover Iowa in the Music City Bowl.

"Can I go back to my regular job?“ Woodley asked last Thursday as his face was getting number.

“Eventually,” he said Monday, “people are going to forget about me. It’s going to last a week, it’s going to go away, and I’m going to be the same Eastern Iowa sportscaster I’ve been for the last 20 years.”

Maybe, just maybe, his greatest lasting tribute will be this: Television producers will think twice the next time they send reporters into blizzards or hurricanes or other precarious weather situations.

They’ll keep doing it, of course, but perhaps they’ll at least feel a little silly.


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