This was a great service, it let people know what the future was likely to hold in terms of both temperature and precipitation. For the downtown workers who could see the beacon, it answered the questions: Will I need gloves? An umbrella? It provided information that people needed and could act upon.
The new and improved beacon, known as the KDKA Weather Beacon and dedicated July 4, 2012, will use a multi-color display to communicate existing conditions - that is, what the weather is right now, as shown below.
We do not wish to seem churlish, but we would point out that anybody who can see the beacon can tell what the current conditions are without decoding the signal. The new presentation uses glitzy LED eco-tech to convey less valuable information, telling you about now instead of the future.
Why would KDKA be associated in a glitzy reduction of information into data points? Oh, that's right — KDKA makes money by selling advertisements wrapped around their televised weather forecast, and the old beacon system was giving the forecast away for free.
But then again, the new beacon will for home runs and touchdowns at