GateHouse Media Illinois
A spokesman for the company that owns Springfield's WICS-TV confirmed Thursday that meteorologist Joe Crain has been "let go" from the station.
"I can confirm Joe has been let go," Robert Ford, a spokesman for Sinclair Broadcast Group, said in an email.
For a week, all signs pointed to the popular weatherman not coming back after he made critical comments on the air June 5 about the the station’s use of “Code Red” weather alerts to provide viewers with an early outlook on the possibility of severe weather. Crain's picture and biography were removed from the station's website on June 6, and a want ad for the morning meteorologist job was posted to the Sinclair website on Tuesday.
But Thursday was the first time Sinclair officials confirmed the departure. Ford did not elaborate on the reason for the move. Crain has declined comment.
During a morning weather report on June 5, Crain called the warning system a “corporate initiative” that isn’t as accurate as National Weather Service alerts.
WICS has endured public and local advertiser backlash over the absence of Crain, who has been at the station since 2004 and was the longest-serving on-air personality there. Viewers also railed against the “Code Red” terminology, saying it was overused and unnecessarily worried people who weren’t going to be affected by a severe storm.
“When you hear ‘Code Red,’ you think ... as they say, ‘the feces is about to hit the fan,'" Crain told viewers.
WICS general manager Rick Lipps on Monday issued a statement that the station will ditch the “Code Red” phrase in favor of the term “Weather Warn.”
Less than 12 hours after Crain made his comments about Wednesday’s “Code Red” designation, the Springfield area was hit with severe storms that knocked down trees and power lines.
Meanwhile, the attention Crain's comments and removal have received continued to spread this week.
Stephen Colbert, host of the "Late Show" on CBS, did a 3-minute comedy bit on Wednesday night's show about Crain and "Code Red."
"The theory behind the 'Code Red' is that it's exciting, it's grabbing and more people would keep watching if you scare them until their pants are at 'Code Brown,'" Colbert joked.
Colbert then threw the segment to a fake version of WICS' new weatherman, Trip Dippler, who presented the station's "Death Cast."
"Looks like we got light rain headed into Tuesday, so pack an umbrella and make your peace with God," the character said while standing in front of a five-day forecast graphic filled with skulls and crossbones.