As Will Ferrell and company blanket mainstream media and the Internet alike with promotional material for Anchorman 2 (which hits theaters Dec. 18) we’re reminded of those real local TV news reporters whose on-air antics and mistakes got them unexpected—and often unwanted—Internet fame. With Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, and other online communities constantly poised to share the next viral phenomenon, on-air TV personalities constantly find themselves under close watch.
Here are nine such broadcasters whom the Internet decided should be popular well beyond the boundaries of their respective cities.
1. Mark Mathis
In the world of Internet-famous local TV broadcasters, Mark Mathis is king. His hilariously unorthodox approach to weather forecasting in Charlotte, N.C.—which included costumes, rapping, and just plain yelling—made him a YouTube hit. His onscreen mania was unfortunately a side effect of alcoholism, for which he sought extensive treatment.
Today, he tours the country as a seminar speaker and is still on the air as a meteorologist in El Paso, Texas.
2. Brian Collins
In 2005, visibly nervous Ball State University freshman Brian Collins uttered four words that would go on to become an early Internet meme: “Boom Goes the Dynamite.” First adopting the unusual phrase to describe a stellar basketball shot, Collins continued to use it throughout the remainder of his bumbling report.
These days, Collins works as a content producer at Premier Content Source in Cincinnati, Ohio
3. Sheinelle Jones & Mike Jerrick
Broadcasters often have to interview strange, bitter, or just plain stupid people—but few have expressed their opinions as blatantly as Philadelphia morning anchors Mike Jerrick and Sheinelle Jones. And who could blame them? Their interview subject was Olympic swimmer, reality TV star, and all-out buffoon Ryan Lochte. Lochte stuttered through the exchange with an extremely dopey demeanor and phrases like “My philosophy is if you’re a man at night, you gotta be a man in the morning.”
The second the interview was over, Jerrick and Jones simply lost it, laughing uncontrollably and commenting on Lochte’s dimwitted answers.
4. Jennifer Livingston
TV news personalities regularly engage with their viewers through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. When one viewer took advantage of this to refer to La Crosse, Wis., reporter Jennifer Livingston as “obese” on Facebook, adding that she should reconsider her position as an on-air personality, the reporter decided to take a stand and reply.
Livingston addressed the hateful words and used the episode to further advance the ever-growing anti-bullying movement. Her response went viral on Facebook.
5. Tom Murphy
If Mark Mathis is ever looking for a successor, he may want to consider Alpena, Mich., weatherman Tom Murphy.
In February 2012, a sampling of Murphy flavoring his forecasts with hip-hop lyrics and pop culture references exploded on Reddit. In a medium that tends to cater to older generations, it’s comforting to know that there is at least one person out there who will cleverly remix the weather report with Fat Joe lyrics.
6. Anderson Cooper
CNN anchor Anderson Cooper is known on television for his hard-hitting journalism, reporting from the front lines of warfare, and a truly awful morning talk show. Online, he is well-known for exposing heinous subreddits and firing back at Twitter users who dare question his facts.
In 2012, when Twitter user Pamela Weiss attacked Cooper’s reporting on rockets being fired in the Gaza Strip, he decided to set the record straight. A seasoned journalist, he dug into her Twitter history and responded.
7. A.J. Clemente
The first day on the job can always be rough, but almost no one had it as bad as A.J. Clemente during his first professional on-air stint in Bismarck, N.D. During the broadcast, Clemente uttered “fucking shit,” unaware that he was still on air. In doing so, he broke one of the cardinal rules of TV news: Describing murders and fires in graphic detail is OK, but there is no place for foul language.
Clemente’s gaffe, which got him fired immediately, exploded on YouTube, and his story was picked up by major media outlets, including NBC’s Today Show and Late Show With David Letterman. He had gone from the rookie leagues to the big leagues in a matter of days—but not in the way that he wanted.
The seemingly blacklisted Clemente temporarily worked as a bartender in Los Angeles following the incident. According to a Nov. 27 tweet, he will soon be moving back to New York City to pursue his broadcasting career.
8. Melissa Theuriau
Thanks to sites like Fark and 4chan, French newscaster Melissa Theuriau became well-known outside of her home base of Paris in 2007. The explosion of her popularity wasn’t due to her journalistic skills, but rather to her stunningly beautiful looks.
Theuriau lamented her fame, claiming that she was “absolutely not seeking this publicity.” She is still on the air at M6 just outside of Paris.
9. Bob Herzog
Since traffic conditions in Cincinnati, Ohio, apparently never get too out of control, traffic reporter Bob Herzog decided to spice up his reports with everything from music to props like oversized glasses.
That’s the latest on the Internet’s favorite TV news personalities. Back to you in the studio.
Screengrab via tvdirector38/YouTube