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WXIA-TV finally confirms Mike Francis as chief meteorologist

Mike Francis, who will join 11 Alive in August. CREDIT: KARK-TV

Mike Francis, who will join 11 Alive in August. CREDIT: KARK-TV

Two weeks ago, a Little Rock station KARK-TV made an unusual announcement: its meteorologist Mike Francis was leaving to 11 Alive (WXIA-TV) in Atlanta.

Typically, stations announce hirings. They seldom announce departures (unless it’s paired with a hiring.) In this case, KARK  was touting the fact that it had honed a talented personality who made it to a top 10 market.

But things got awkward because apparently 11 Alive wasn’t ready to let the cat out of the bag. It hadn’t even told Paul Ossmann, its current chief meteorologist. As a result, fellow NBC affiliate KARK pulled the press release a few hours later from its website. But it was too late: other sites had already picked up the news.

Veteran meteorologist Ossmann, 54, who has been rumored to be leaving WXIA for months, is indeed leaving. His final day is July 22. He has no immediate post-WXIA plans.

11 Alive Thursday released a press release belatedly announcing Francis’ arrival, also referencing Ossmann’s departure in a brief sentence at the bottom of the page. Here are excerpts:

[Francis] is a highly experienced meteorologist with a background in storm chasing. He was in fact, an eyewitness to the most destructive tornado in the country’s history in Oklahoma City. Overall, he has chased close to 50 tornadoes. He is also an army veteran, a member of the elite 82nd airborne division and has seen combat in both Panama and Iraq. Today, he’s married and the father of three. He is looking forward to bringing his family to Atlanta, where he’ll begin work in August

“Mike Francis is one of the most well respected and knowledgeable meteorologists in the country. He has a unique style of forecasting and an obvious passion for weather. He is such a perfect fit for us. His years of storm chasing have given him incredible insight into the way storms behave and I’m proud to have him lead our team, “said Ellen Crooke, V.P. of News and Information for WXIA-TV. “Having the unique talent of Mike Francis, the 20-year market history of Chris Holcomb and someone who is as highly educated and as personable as Chesley McNeil, is an unbeatable weather team.”

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By Rodney Ho, rho@ajc.com, AJCRadioTV blog

168 comments Add your comment

I'm luvin it

July 1st, 2011
10:12 am

11DEAD Buh bye!!!! I sure hope Paul gets picked up by another local station or The Weather Channel. You just cant give a local icon a one sentence good bye. Ellen Crooke is an idiot!!!

Georgianna

July 1st, 2011
10:13 am

McNeil is being patronized by calling him “educated,” and certainly, he is not personable; to me, he is silly and immature. He’s a disappointment for all the advertising WXIA did for him. Thanks, Paul, for your service, and Chris Holcomb is a jewel — he makes you feel comfortable.

tech60

July 1st, 2011
10:37 am

Way to treat a guy, but I want to know why Ted Hall is rarely on at 6:00 pm? Now that Jill Becker is leaving the morning show, I may move back to WSB.

cw

July 1st, 2011
10:37 am

Agree Georgianna, I love Chris Holcomb. Watching him is like “coming home”. When Chesley M suddenly appeared in the spot Chris had been doing for awhile, I called the station in a snit demanding to know what would happen to Chris, and was assured he’d still be there. Already sad about losing Jill Becker – she’s been a fixture for at least 25 years. Remember when her now grown son had a brain tumor when he was a toddler, and used to run home from work at lunch time to watch her in “Noonday” at 11:30, For awhile she had that Steve guy who recently was teamed up with Vickie on radio.

ed

July 1st, 2011
10:40 am

Cue balls take more makeup. Can XIA afford it?

seemore's mom

July 1st, 2011
10:42 am

Channel 2 here i come.

Patrick

July 1st, 2011
10:43 am

Left 11Alive long, long ago. Shady treatment of anchors and weathermen, puffy “helpful” pieces rather than news, and then the WIZ. That was the last factor to confirm that leaving was a good idea. Now this. WSB has been a solid alternative. Actual NEWS on a NEWS PROGRAM. Crazy.

Tenacious Tee

July 1st, 2011
10:43 am

The media industry works that way. You can’t get comfortable b/c you’re in one day and out the next. Paul understands that and he probably knew what was coming. Trust me…..it didn’t catch him off guard!!

@ Georgianna…I didn’t like the reference to McNeil as “educated”. Of course he’s educated, otherwise he wouldn’t be broadcasting the weather. I’m sorry to see Paul go.

Not Ossmann fan

July 1st, 2011
10:49 am

Too bad for the incumbent, but Ossmann will have more time to work on his tan and lift weights. Chris Holcombe is a GREAT guy. Glad he’s still there.

I sang Dixie...as he died

July 1st, 2011
10:49 am

I miss Guy Sharpe… R.I.P! He was the weatherman I grew up with.

aggie in Dacula

July 1st, 2011
10:53 am

Paul will be missed. Good guy, great athlete and a staple in Atlanta television. Hope he gets picked up by WSB. I used to love 11 alive, not so much anymore. It’s gotten too “warm and fuzzy” for me. Good luck Paul!

arlene

July 1st, 2011
10:54 am

I always liked Paul Ossmann, especially since he was a fellow New Jerseyan. Good luck, Paul. I know you’ll find a better position in the media. This is Channel 11’s loss.

reality

July 1st, 2011
10:58 am

Let’s see WXIA has been in third for 30 years, Ossmann never got anywhere near Burns and Cook as far as credibility when storms hit. The guy may be nice as a host but not as a weather expert. I want to give Francis a chance. Their station needs some shaking up. How many male anchor have they had the last 20 years? Put Karen Greer on at nights. She would be a welcome change from what they have been doing.

joe

July 1st, 2011
10:59 am

Doesn’t affect me. I watch ch. 2 or ch. 5 for my weather updates…much better broadcasts.

Fred (with a capitol "F")

July 1st, 2011
11:00 am

Bring Flip back!

Sad the way they treat people. Imagine finding out from a news release from an out of state, smaller market station that you had lost your job.

BobbyB

July 1st, 2011
11:10 am

I have been working in Arkansas for the last several months, and will say this about the new guy coming in….he is passionate about tornado coverage!

R B

July 1st, 2011
11:11 am

Paul gonna hate to see you go good luck what is the worst possible move is saying goodby to jill she is the best atlanta tv has good luck jill we will miss you

walkman

July 1st, 2011
11:13 am

Any channel that can be so condescending and base as to have a WIZ desrves to go down. Today is a 7! Great. Now I know what to do.

dennis

July 1st, 2011
11:15 am

Bring back Johnny Beckman and Guy Sharpe!!!

say uncle

July 1st, 2011
11:16 am

Elliot Garcia

July 1st, 2011
11:21 am

Paul is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. I wish him well….

LG - West Metro

July 1st, 2011
11:21 am

This once again points to the reasons for not watching WXIA news. They have turned news delivery into some of the cheessees presentation of news stories I have ever attempted to watch. Why would you take a washed-up pitful sports announcer and sit him at a news anchor desk. He is sick at best!! The personal comments at the end of the news cast are worse than pitful – you are to report the news and let me decide my opinion on the stories!! I have newver been an Ossman fan but the way he this news was broken was a SHAME!! Yet, typical of WXIA !!

Anthony Weiner

July 1st, 2011
11:21 am

Is this blog reserved for whiner?

Shannon

July 1st, 2011
11:22 am

I love Chesley McNeal in the a.m., he is very personable and fun to listen to. Chris Holcombe is another fave – while Paul Ossman will be missed, I look forward to watching a new personality. It’s going to be quite entertaining next spring when the tornado weather rolls through, to see how he reacts!

blazerdawg

July 1st, 2011
11:23 am

Welcome to Atlanta Mike Francis!

The Wiz

July 1st, 2011
11:25 am

“The Wiz” is a joke between me and my son since we think it is so stupid…”hey what’s on the Wizometer…dad…let’s step into the weather information zone”. Chesley McNeil is a nice guy, although a bit goofy. He is working on his PhD., which I admire.

Spirit of Joel Matlin

July 1st, 2011
11:26 am

Yay! I hope he learns real soon that we Georgians love to know that the temperature in Roswell is 91, but in Marietta, it’s 90!!! Oh joy!!!!!

5 day forcast

July 1st, 2011
11:38 am

It does’t matter who they get,its still the same old forcast.its gonna clear up cloudy, and come a dry drizzle.

jaymike

July 1st, 2011
11:41 am

All you youngsters (anyone under the age of 55) don’t know this, but back
channel 11 has ALWAYS BEEN ON THE BOTTOM with its news and weather.

Back in 1965, they had a weather girl named Eleanor Knight, who was a real dizzy blonde. One news cast, she kept breaking the chalk on her blackboard weather board….after asking 5 times for another piece of chalk, she threw the small piece at the camera, striking it right on the lens, which caused it to break (They only had one camera back then…) The whole newscast had to be shut down until they could borrow one from WSB, which at time was their next door neighbor on W. Peachtree!!!

Paulette Ruddock

July 1st, 2011
11:48 am

Say good bye to me as a viewer! For years i have enjoyed Paul’s broadcasting of the weather.Why could’nt have paid him the courtesy of telling him that you had hired his replacement before it was made public. I know it’s all about the almighty dollar.

RoswellDawg

July 1st, 2011
11:49 am

Spirit of Joel Matlin — PERFECT! That drives me NUTS!

left/right? i care

July 1st, 2011
11:51 am

jaymike, that is FUNNY!

Chris

July 1st, 2011
11:53 am

Yall should watch Chesley and his side kick Matt Holmes at 430 in the morning. Great team, should be on the news more often.

Freddie Fox

July 1st, 2011
11:57 am

Well, it’s back to Channel 2 for me. Management is cutting their own throats with these moves….Do they want the failure??

Strike 1: Chesley McNeil….to slap stick silly that early.
Strike 2: Moved Ted Hall out and brought in Jeff Hullinger.
Strike 3: Sorry treatment of Paul Ossmann and dumping him.

JBoo

July 1st, 2011
12:00 pm

I’ll stick with Ken Cook’s calm, fairly reliable, delivery of the weather on Fox5, thank you. I have enjoyed Paul, and wish him the best, but Chesley spends so much timing “yucking” it up to really give an accurate weather forecast. Can’t stand the WIZometer – so silly. Your version of a 9 isn’t mine, so it’s really just your opinion of the weather, right?

Prime Star

July 1st, 2011
12:01 pm

When they get rid of old spotted Jill Becker, I might watch 11 more. In HD, Jill Becker is enough to make you hurl. At least most of the girls on are young and can stand up to HD. Give me a pregnant Jennifer Valdez to old, spotted Jill Becker!

Native Atlantan

July 1st, 2011
12:02 pm

Really? You folks get this wound up about a weather man? Oh my….

GaSlick

July 1st, 2011
12:07 pm

First bad move was hiring Chesley…. what a clown and so annoying. I left 11 alive then because I couldn’t stand his desperate cries for attention. Switched to 46 and Jennifer Valdez, could not be happier.

pcBobby

July 1st, 2011
12:12 pm

Rebecca Irwin was really nice and down-home. I always looked forward to seeing her. I do hope Cheryl Lemke stays on board. She seems incredibly gifted and intelligent.

Hillbilly D

July 1st, 2011
12:12 pm

As long as Kelly Cass is on the Weather Channel, why would you watch anybody else?

Go NPR!

July 1st, 2011
12:14 pm

Markina Brown!

Alreadygone!

July 1st, 2011
12:22 pm

I agree with Georgianna! I quit watching 11 in the mornings when they hired McNeil. I think the whole morning show is a joke and now that Jill is leaving it is doomed! Now I won’t watch the evenings either. They obviously don’t care what their audience thinks. They don’t even provide a spot on their web site to give them feedback. I love Chris so maybe he can go to 2 so I can support him.

Ricky

July 1st, 2011
12:24 pm

Pretty shabby way of announcing Paul’s departure! I can’t stand Chesley, so maybe the new guy will be okay. What’s the deal with Ted Hall and Jeff Hullinger switching? Get rid of Karen Greer….she’s from the Monica Pearson school of dramatic reading of news. I just want someone to tell me the news, not give me their wild interpretation of it. I love Karen Woods—-professional and to the point.

Ron

July 1st, 2011
12:25 pm

Will miss Paul. One more reason not to watch WXIA.

Grantdawg

July 1st, 2011
12:26 pm

Definitely going to miss Paul. He was a good, solid guy. I will give the new guy a chance, though. He has my haircut.

The Web

July 1st, 2011
12:28 pm

Who watches weather on TV? There are many weather sites on the net that you can get the information you want within seconds. Why be dragged through a 5 minute presentation.

Vashtai

July 1st, 2011
12:32 pm

11Alive has an interactive chat during several of their broadcasts and I participate. We’ve known that Paul’s contract was not being renewed for several months. I understand Cheryl Lemke is leaving in a couple of weeks because her contract was not renewed. My biggest fear is that 11Alive told Jill back in January that her contract would not be renewed and gave her the option to retire. She assures us that isn’t the case, but you never know.

I like Paul, Chesley...

July 1st, 2011
12:36 pm

I had the pleasure of working with Paul Ossman ~1998 when doing a special segment for their show “Peachtree Morning.” He is a very personable, fun guy and I feel does a great job. I love Chesley, though sometimes he’s a bit young and silly. But he is Brook Benton handsome, with a beautiful smile. Chocolate–yum, yum. I think many Atlantans just didn’t want to see some hot, dark chocolate in the AMs, but on merit and appearance, he does just fine; he is a knowledgable meterologist.

Jill–nice, pleasant, but very wrinkled. It’s time for her to go (and take Monica and Jovita from WSB along with her. When, Monica, When!!?) I don’t even watch channel 2 anymore if one of them is anchoring. Bring Back Vickie Newton!!!!!!!

Back to 11…Karen G–nice, but the forced over-smiling is a bit much. Ted Hall–excellent, with a lot of class, it seems.

In summary…I wish Paul O well; I’ll miss him. I hope he does go to the Weather Channel, CNN or somewhere. I’d like to still see him somewhere.

In case you don’t know…one GREAT thing when traveling is it is SOOOO good to NOT see ANY ATL newscasters period. We may get better news coverage in many instances, but all the dramatics, stupid conversations and histrionics here in ATL are gratuitious and unnecessary. Just report the news.

Kat

July 1st, 2011
12:40 pm

I don’t like how they treated Paul – that is terrible. I don’t really care about the personal details of the weathermen, just that they can report the weather. A degree or two here or there matters not to me.

And, most people probably get there weather reports online, not from the news. If it’s that critical – tornado-type weather – people aren’t going to wait until the 6 pm news report.

This new guy seems like he is experienced and well-liked, but a weatherman is a weatherman. I would think that he’d like a tornado-friendly state though. We don’t get them nearly as much as other places.

teachretired

July 1st, 2011
12:40 pm

Another stupid move by WXIA….quit watching when you hired Chesley McNeil…he is such a self-serving goofball. The Wizometer is as childish as Chesley. Bring on another change….now a storm chaser!!!!