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.”
By Rodney Ho, firstname.lastname@example.org, AJCRadioTV blog