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story.lead_photo.caption Richard Mason

Have you ever wondered how those weather guys come up with those namby-pamby hurricane and now, winter storm names? Do you think they lock some weather nerd in a room with a bag of Cheetos until he or she comes up with a list of new, non-controversial, wimpy names? Well, I think, we can do better and make money doing it. I have come up with a much superior way to name hurricanes, other weather systems, and even buildings, have non-wimpy names, and make the Government some pretty good money, and since the good old USA is a born-again capitalist country, this method is sure to please everybody.

This is it in a nutshell: Sell ‘em! Okay, maybe I need to flesh out my concept. We could solicit bids for naming rights and the highest bidder would get to choose a hurricane name or a winter storm name or a heat wave. Heck, if somebody will pay well over a million dollars to have lunch with Warren Buffett, how much would they pay to actually name a hurricane? Probable enough to send Senator Tom Cotton on his next fact-finding trip to Paris.

Now let’s think outside the box. The Weather Channel has started naming winter storms, and the World Meteorological Organization in coordination with the USA Metrological Survey approves a list of acceptable hurricane names, but who’s to say the good old USA can’t unilaterally sell names for hurricanes and weather systems? If we can opt out of a nuclear treaty, we should be able to opt out of an agreement to name hurricanes and winter storms. If that is okay, then why should we stop with just hurricanes and storms? How about the right to name a heat wave, or a cold front? Wouldn’t your girlfriend be tickled to have a heat wave named after her, and I can think of a few folks who would fit in the cold front names. Of course, we would have to outlaw obscene names, but for Southerners and Native Americans allow double or even triple names such as, “Hurricane Joe Bob is expected to make landfall…” and “Bear Walking Tall is expected to strengthen.”

The money making possibilities are almost endless, and since hurricanes would easily top the money list of naming rights, we could change names as a storm became stronger. You know, like Tropical Storm Henry Ray, whose naming rights were sold for $200,000 would be renamed Hurricane Jimmy for $350,000 when it hit 75 MPH, and then for another $500,000 be renamed Hurricane Hilda Fay, when it hit category 3, and a super storm over category 5, would be renamed Hurricane Kenny for a cool million.

Well, we’re only skimming the top of naming possibilities, and we’re missing a really good one that would raise some significant bucks. It’s naming ships! Just think of how much some folks would put up to name the next aircraft carrier, and then imagine how many ships are commissioned each year, and how much could have been made if the name of the new cruisier, the USS Little Rock would have been sold. And just think about the other services: Wouldn’t you like to have a bomber with your name on it, or if you could only spring for a few thousand, you might get the army to name a tank after you, but you can go on and on, and name barracks, cemeteries, and even training camps.

Of course, you can follow some of our nation’s colleges in really picking up the bucks by naming buildings, coliseums, even changing the name of the school. Yes, and it goes right to the top universities. Need an example? Well how about Razorback Stadium? Uh, oh, I forgot, it’s Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. That sent me to wondering if the naming rights to Old Main are up for sale. I can just envision, Richard’s Old Main, or maybe each university should put up a list of buildings, stadiums, and playing fields to be named. Heck, I can just see big bucks just waiting to be picked off. ASU is sure in the race by recently renaming their business school.

North Little Rock has just finished naming a new proposed public plaza, Argenta Plaza. My gosh they really missed out on some high dollars. Maybe Exxon would have been interested to have it named Exxon Plaza. They need a little good Arkansas publicity and North Little Rock could probably use some of those millions Exxon has sitting around. I will just bet those proposals would get millions thrown at them. They’d get more money than a one cent sales tax.

Or just think of how much money could be made by naming sections of the President’s new 2000 mile wall. Of course, we don’t have any American zillionaires so we would have to set up naming rights to sections of the wall, and the proceeds would go into the wall construction fund. I think just to be fair the wall naming rights would have to go to the highest bidder, but just to make it interesting, instead of the winning person’s name on the wall, you could put in three foot letters a comment, and since the wall is a really hot subject, I can see mega bucks for sections that go through villages and cities, and El Paso and other towns would bring in a ton of cash. I can just see comments such as “Trumps folly!” and “Pelosi’s nightmare” popping up, and if the wall of comments were promoted properly, the proceeds would pay for most of it.

Of course, we could put an expiration date on names the way some colleges and other entities have already done. In other words, we would keep the names current, and say when a person with the naming rights to Old Main dies, the University could put naming rights back up for bid. Actually they are already doing renaming. When I went to the University my dorm was Razorback Hall, but the name has been changed to reflect, well probably a nice contribution to our fair University.

Having an expiration date on names would create a constant flow of naming funds, and just think of the thousands of municipally and state buildings around the country that could be named or renamed. But the ultimate would be, for the proper incentive, a city could rename itself. Maybe Pine Bluff could save itself if it would agree to rename itself “Amazon City,” and be rewarded with 25,000 computer jobs,

Now, before you accuse me of being a crass American—-which I probably am—-I have real live hurricane experience. I made it through Carla and took a direct hit from Celia, and if somebody had paid a million dollars to change one of those names to Hurricane Dorothy Anne, it wouldn’t have made a whit of difference to me or the hurricane. Yes, I know that would be making money from people’s misery, but we tax cigarettes, sell lottery tickets, and in the long run that sure is making money from someone’s misery. Or how about TV stations hammering us with a zillion political commercials? If that’s not making money from folk’s misery, what is?

Richard Mason is a registered professional geologist, downtown developer, former chairman of the Department of Environmental Quality Board of Commissioners, past president of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation, and syndicated columnist. Email [email protected]

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