A news station renamed its ‘Code Red’ weather warning after its own weatherman slammed it on air
Michelle Lou, CNN
(CNN) — A local Illinois news station has switched its “Code Red” weather alerts to something that sounds less alarming after its own weatherman criticized the language as misleading.
While live on air last week, WICS meteorologist Joe Crain slammed the station’s “Code Red” alerts for failing to “recognize that not all storms are created equal.”
His criticism came after viewers complained that repeated “Code Red” severe weather warnings caused needless panic and were getting old.
“We want you to know it’s not us,” Crain said in a June 5 monologue that quickly went viral. “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.”
In light of the backlash, WICS, which is a CNN affiliate, said on Monday it will change its early warning alert to “Weather Warn.” Many stations owned by Sinclair, WICS’ parent company, are required to use the “Weather Warn” branding.
“We live and work and have families and friends in this community — safety is deeply personal for us. We firmly believe in the need to provide an early warning alert and will continue to provide this potentially lifesaving information, but we have come to understand that the words Code Red may no longer be fitting,” WICS said in a statement.
“As such, we are changing the name of our early warning alert to ‘Weather Warn.’ In addition, we will continue to work to more precisely define the specific geographic areas of greatest concern.”
WICS said the decision to issue “Code Red” alerts were “made at the local level.”
Weatherman’s employment status still unclear
WICS removed Crain’s profile page from its website after the broadcast.
Crain, who has worked there since 2004, declined to comment to CNN on his employment status.
Crain has received an outpouring of support, and multiple companies pulled their advertising with WICS due to the controversy.
Sutton’s, a local home improvement business that sponsored the seven-day weather forecast on WICS, even offered Crain a job if he needs a new one.
The station did not comment on Crain’s employment status in its latest statement.