From behind the news desk at WTOL 11 in Toledo, Tim Miller and Melissa Andrews smiled broadly at the camera. For the city’s residents, the cheerful visual of the two longtime morning news anchors was nothing out of the ordinary. But then, the pair started talking.
“Yeet!” Miller chimed in. “Stay woke, be on fleek and get that Gucci breakfast.”
This week, all across Toledo, students have been sitting for mandatory state tests, a daunting activity that even the Toledo Public School system acknowledges is often “nerve-racking.” On Wednesday, WTOL’s morning news team apparently wanted to do its part to help students get through the week.
The team’s idea? A message of encouragement riddled with exaggerated teen slang that has since gone viral, prompting reactions ranging from utter shock to disdain. Amid the flurry of responses, WTOL removed the video from its Facebook page, but it was too late. Clips of the segment had been widely shared on Twitter, with one video totaling roughly 3 million views as of early Thursday. Soon after, Toledo was trending with more than 16,000 mentions.
i cannot believe this is my city’s news station...i cannot believe this is real pic.twitter.com/MBfa7Zu5E6— space goth coast 2 coast 🗡 (@G0NEGIRLLL) March 27, 2019
During the course of the 37-second viral clip, Miller and Andrews, who were joined by meteorologist Chris Vickers and traffic reporter Steven Jackson, managed to make more than a dozen enthusiastic slang references.
“Goooaaals,” Andrews said in response to Miller’s “Gucci breakfast” tip. “Say, ‘Bye Felicia,’ to that testing stress. Weather’s going to be turnt, right, Chris?”
The camera flashed to Vickers.
“Yaaaas,” he said excitedly. “Toledo weather going to be v. lit during testing week. A ‘hundo p’ chance of success. You’ve got this, kids.”
For a traffic update, Vickers turned to Jackson. “Are we looking okurrr?” Vickers asked, rolling his R’s to copy Grammy Award-winning rapper Cardi B’s pronunciation.
“Better than okurrr,” Jackson said, his imitation rivaling Vickers’s. “We’re talking turnt. FOMO won’t be an issue. No traffic problems around any TPS schools to keep you from taking those tests.”
But the WTOL team wasn’t finished yet.
“Be extra, extra,” Miller advised students at the end of the clip, punctuating the slang with finger guns.
Andrews added: “We here at WTOL are v. proud of you."
Viewers were shook.
“Is this real?” veteran sportscaster Rich Eisen tweeted. “April 1st?”
this is an SNL skit except it’s real life pic.twitter.com/n5PhcJBbuI— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 28, 2019
“I feel like now is the perfect time to say: ‘Holy Toledo, what was that???’" another person tweeted.
Executives at the news station and the reporters involved did not respond to requests for comment late Wednesday. On Twitter, WTOL sports director Jordan Strack, who did not participate in the segment, explained that the clip was intended for “Web only.”
“It never hit the air,” he wrote.
Still the video divided social media users into two camps: Those who felt it was “cursed content” and others who thought the reporters deserved praise for their “Oscar-worthy performances.”
“Toledo is cancelled,” several users tweeted. Another user called the video an “indescribable amount of cringe.”
“This is beyond stupid, Toledo,” one person wrote. “What idiot executive producer approved this?”
I’ll tell ya what.. this is a tough look for the Newscasting profession pic.twitter.com/7wji2ODGc0— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) March 27, 2019
“I don’t know if I can ever show my face on this television station ever again,” WTOL reporter Jon Monk tweeted.
“If you can watch this video without cringing you officially win at life,” another Twitter user wrote.
Toledo’s residents swiftly sought to distance themselves from the city.
“If anyone asks, I’m not from Toledo anymore,” a user wrote.
I’ve only been back in Toledo for 2 days and I already want to leave again pic.twitter.com/OkV2B8icuH— Jacob Bandelaria (@jbandles2) March 27, 2019
But for others, the video was, as the Toledo Police Department described it, “money."
That’s it. I’m convinced. I’m moving to Toledo. 🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/aVH350GvVL— Sage Rosenfels (@SageRosenfels18) March 28, 2019
People also defended the WTOL reporters, arguing that they were just trying to help students. On Wednesday, Andrews tweeted a photo of herself at a local elementary school, where she and another anchor, Andrew Kinsey, went to greet students and wish them luck on their exams.
“Obviously they are in on the joke of sounding ridiculous, so this gets a pass from me,” one person tweeted. “Personally, I think it’s refreshing to see people enjoying their job & trying to make the news more interesting.”
Though Strack initially asked people to stop tweeting at him about the video, adding that he had no comment on the matter, he later stood up for his co-workers.
“God forbid a news station has fun to motivate kids who could really use it during test week,” he wrote. “I don’t get all the hate.”
God forbid a news station has fun to motivate kids who could really use it during test week. This never made air. It was on the web for fun. I don’t get all the hate.— Jordan Strack (@JordanStrack) March 28, 2019