WICS (Springfield, Illinois) Meteorologist Joe Crain called out his station’s owner on the air over a corporate mandate as to how Sinclair stations handle weather forecast.
The longtime Weather Anchor went on the air and criticized the station’s “Code Red” weather warning system. He told viewers that it was a “corporate initiative” that “doesn’t recognize that not all storms are equal” and has generated widespread complaints.
“So we want you to know it’s not us,” Crain said during a morning broadcast on a day that actually would see severe weather later. “This is a corporate initiative, the Code Red alert. And behind the scenes, many of us have tried to dissuade it for the last few months, to try something else that’s less controversial to the viewers.”
WICS General Manager Rick Lipps didn’t immediately return messages asking about Crain’s status. Reached through Facebook on Thursday, Crain said, “I’m employed by WICS and have no comment to offer.”
A spokesperson for Sinclair, via email, said the company doesn’t comment on personnel matters, but added in a statement: “The outbreak of severe weather events across the country in recent weeks makes clear that Code Red alerts serve a critical function in keeping viewers informed of potential danger and threats to their safety. The decision to issue these alerts is made by our local metorologists and we will continue to trust our local experts to know when to make the call to announce these warnings.”
Crain called out the station on the newscast on Wednesday. On Thursday he was not on the air and his picture has been removed from the bio page of talent on the station’s website.
The State Journal Register reports that during the Wednesday broadcast, Crain noted that with a weather front coming that afternoon and evening, there could be wind gusts in excess of 60 miles an hour, and “we can’t rule out an isolated tornado.”
“Of course, the Code Red weather alert is designed to give an early heads up well before any watches or warnings are issued, to give you the opportunity to plan, prepare and protect your family against strong to severe thunder storms,” Crain said. “That being said, it’s not the perfect solution because, of course, with Code Red, it’s all inclusive. It doesn’t recognize that not all storms are created equal.”
He said the National Weather Service has color and number scales that help make their alerts more specific.
“On the other hand, Code Red was created by, likely, a journalism school graduate,” Crain said. “That being said, I’m a journalism school graduate.
He also said on air that he understands complaints about the name of the station’s alert.
“When you hear ‘Code Red,’ you think ... as they say, ‘the feces is about to hit the fan.’ So with that being said, we understand your concerns, and we want you to know that we take them very seriously. ... I don’t take myself very seriously, but I do take my job seriously, and my responsibility to the public,” he added.
“I just wanted to get that off my chest,” Crain said of his criticism of the alert system, “because it’s amazing how vile and cruel people can be on social media, and even in person to myself and other members of the storm team. And we just want to let you know that hey, it’s not us. We’re just doing our job. After all, we have mouths to feed, bills to pay, just like everybody else. ... So if the boss says ‘Code Red” — says ‘jump’ — we go, ‘how high?’”
Big props to Crain for calling out the corporate bosses with this weather nonsense. But one now wonders if Crain has been bounced for speaking his mind?