Illinois weatherman rails against 'corporate initiative' live on air

Illinois weatherman rails against 'corporate initiative' live on air
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An Illinois meteorologist said on air recently that the TV station’s weather alerts were the result of a “corporate initiative” that he and others had warned against, according to CNN.

"We want you to know it's not us," Joe Crain of Springfield's WICS, owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, said during a live June 5 newscast.

"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,” he added.

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The alert system, Crain said, “doesn't recognize that not all storms are created equal.” He said the station’s use of Code Red alerts for storms oversimplified the issue.

The National Weather Service’s 1-5 scale for severe weather better incorporates the variation in storms and their intensity, he added, while “on the other hand, Code Red was created by, likely, a journalism school graduate.”

Crain went on to encourage viewers to submit feedback.

“Keep in mind, despite the fact that this facility is owned by a corporation, it's still licensed under the authority by the Federal Communications Commission to serve the public interest, convenience and necessity, so you still have a voice,” he said. “Keep those cards and letters coming.”

Crain, who has worked at the local CNN affiliate since 2004, has not appeared on air since making the remarks. His profile page on the station’s website has been removed, according to CNN.

Several companies have suspended their advertising on WICS to show their solidarity with Crain. One local home improvement business said it was pulling its ads indefinitely.

Sinclair public relations officer Ronn Torossian defended use of the weather alerts in a statement to The Washington Post.

“That afternoon there was significant storm damage in the area including trees falling on homes, downed power lines, and hail storms,” Torossian told the newspaper. “Thankfully, residents were adequately warned to prepare."