Posted: 12:51 pm Monday, January 27th, 2014

Mike Francis is out at 11 Alive 

By Rodney Ho

Mike Francis has been chief meteorologist at 11 Alive for about two and a half years. CREDIT: 11 Alive

Mike Francis has been chief meteorologist at 11 Alive for about two and a half years. CREDIT: 11 Alive

Mike Francis, chief meteorologist at the NBC affiliate 11 Alive here since the summer of 2011, has left the station.

Why? I am not 100% sure but I’m told he was taken off air before his contract was up. He has not found a new gig that I know of so this was not a voluntary departure.

I first reported this news Monday afternoon. Later in the day, the 11 Alive Facebook page confirmed the news when someone inquired:

Thanks for writing. Mike Francis is no longer at 11Alive. Veteran meteorologist Chris Holcomb 11Alive will be taking over the weeknight weather duties. We’re currently doing a nationwide search for a world class meteorologist to join Chris, Chesley McNeil 11Alive and Allison Chinchar 11Alive to ensure you’ll always have the weather information you need to keep you informed and safe.

His work Facebook page has not been updated since Jan. 10, the last time he was on air. (They are going to disconnect it soon.) But he still has his own here, which he is updating on a regular basis

He is also Tweeting on his own Twitter address (@MikeFrancisWX) about the weather as if nothing is happening. He has about 4,400 followers.

When I reached him by phone Monday, Francis said, “Everything is fine. My wife is calling me. I need to call you back.” (He didn’t call me back.)

UPDATE 1/30/14: On Facebook, the following week, he later again declined to comment, referring me to his attorney Rick Carr, who could only say he’s looking for employment, preferably in Atlanta, but isn’t sure he’d be able to get out of his non-compete clause and join another station sooner.

There have been plenty of rumors I’ve heard about why Francis was let go but due to the separation agreement, it’s clear Francis has been paid to keep his mouth shut. Carr did say it wasn’t an official “firing.” So what was it? A forced resignation? Possibly.

Multiple sources told me that on Saturday, January 11, when a major storm was coming into Atlanta, most of the staff was in the building at 6 a.m. – except Francis, their main weather person. He didn’t respond to calls for six hours. By the time noon rolled around when he finally responded, he was suspended and soon off the air permanently. Clearly, that was not the only reason why he lost his gig but it seems to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

His former bosses have not gotten back to me about the situation. That alone makes it clear this was not a very clean departure.

An insider told me Holcomb, a long-time weekend meteorologist, has been angling for the weekday job for a long time.

In an interview soon after he arrived, Francis told me how much he loved the weather ever since he was a child. A self-described adrenaline junkie, he was a tornado chaser in the past as well, spending 10 years at an affiliate in Little Rock, Ark.  He has seen more than 40 tornados live.  General manager John Deushane at the time said he had a “fire in the belly” for weather.

Indeed, his passion for the weather is readily apparent on both the TV and his blog and social media entries.

You can read my entire interview with him at the time here.

The intro video WXIA-TV did for him in 2011 lives on on YouTube:

60 comments
Miscat
Miscat

How about bringing Paul Ossman back?  He was unfairly canned to bring in Francis, and in my opinion Francis never had the warmth that Paul did.

Miscat
Miscat

How about bringing Paul Ossman back?  He was unfairly canned to bring in Francis ...

Bubba_Dude
Bubba_Dude

They should get rid of Cheesely instead.... and that stupid Wizometer....I don't need a number to tell me whether or not it is a good day.

DEW5
DEW5

Don't know what happened to Mike, BUT CHRIS deserves this shot... I've been watching him since the Macon/WMAZ days and he is the Biggest draw that 11Alive Weather has had since Beckman, in my opinion!

WesYount
WesYount

11 Alive has really fallen down further.  I quit watching their newscasts when they screwed over Paul Ossmman to bring in Mike Francis.  With Ted Hall, Fred Kalil and Randy Waters, they just need to shut down. 

RD0001994
RD0001994

If you ask me, Francis was gunning for a Weather Channel position all along, hence his move to the Atlanta market.

Bigdog7370
Bigdog7370

What 11alive should do is bring back either Guy Sharpe or Johnny Beckman!!! 

Mike Hunt
Mike Hunt

I have known Chris Holcomb, a native Atlantan, for over 25 years and cannot think of a finer person to be given the opportunity to be the chief meteorologist at 11Alive.  The management at the station still don't understand the concept of loyalty or even what the viewers like.

It is not apparent to me why they think the personnel they have brought in and turned over have either driven up or down viewership.  Since my time living in Atlanta what I have come to know that familiartity seems to drive viewership and turnover does not breed familiarity.

Mike 

Michy53
Michy53

When Mike first began reporting the weather for 11alive, I didn't like his presentation... I believe he may have been nervous... but as time past he got much better... We will miss Him!! As for Chestley his presentation needs to be tweeked... He appears that he is in a rush and doesn't care... the just get it over syndrome!! Mike is a much better presenter than Chestley!!! There's noting that we can say to change what happened... when management decides that's it!!!! It's pretty sorry that they don't consider the viewing audience!!!!

ClaudiaScarbrough
ClaudiaScarbrough

Been busy and kept asking each other where was Mike Francis during this ice crisis. Can't believe that NBC didn't appreciate what they had. We loved his weather forecasting. THEY DIDN'T RENEW HIS CONTRACT!! Can't believe. The other weather people are okay but he is a notch above. 

gaweatherboy
gaweatherboy

They obviously have someone lined up. Doubtful it is Chris Holcomb.

gaweatherboy
gaweatherboy

11Alive continues to transform into news for 11 year olds.

BarbaraCall
BarbaraCall

I put up with Paul Osmond for so long on 11Alive, almost changed channels to not have to hear him. Then you put Mike on the air and it felt like payback for waiting. We LOVED his coverage. He was so passionate about the weather and it showed. He was so entertaining and informative. 11Alive has always been my favorite news coverage but it is not changing for the better. I will change to another station if Mike shows up elsewhere in Atlanta. This is a HUGE lost on the part of 11Alive.

Lydiasouth
Lydiasouth

What?  And they kept the Ebonics speaking, Chesley?  WTF? 

ATLien66
ATLien66

11 Alive gives you the best and most accurate news.  Always have and always will be a fan.  Of course I don't/didn't know Mike Francis personally, but didn't like his delivery style or his occasional speech impediment.  He appeared to be a nice and genuine guy, so I wish you much success where ever you go and do.

Eric_2003
Eric_2003

Also agree with BryanO about staff turnover on 11Alive.


2014 sees the departures of Mike Francis and Elle Duncan.  It remains to be seen if former V-103 personality Chris "Crash" Clark and Fred McFarline are cut out for TV.  I doubt that 11 would want the likes of Jim Basile and/or Rob Langer back.  Don't know if former Fox5 traffic reporter Cheryl White had been considered or not.


2013 saw the departures of Ted Hall, Randy Waters, and Fred Kalil.  Fred still covers high school sports as sideline reporter.  Jeff Hullinger appears to be temporary lead sports anchor, as well as co-anchor of 10PM news on WATL.  John Gerard transitioning from "Commuter Dude" to "The ATL Guy".


In 2011, we saw morning anchor Jill Becker retire after 23 years at 11 (30 years in Atlanta, if you include the 7 years she spent at WSB, before moving to 11), and she still appears on Curing Childhood Cancer and 50 Floor commercials.  We saw Paul Ossmann being unceremoniously canned from chief meteorologist position.  11Alive opted for in-house traffic reporters, resulting in the departures of Metro Traffic employees Jim Basile and Rob Langer.


Other than Chris Holcomb deserving long overdue promotion to chief meteorologist, and 11 needing to bring back its 5PM newscast... 11 and 36, IMO, needs better station managers... better than Deushane and Crooke.

Just Hank
Just Hank

Never liked him.  Getting rid of Ossman was a huge mistake, but I'm glad to see Chris Holcomb getting the gig--at least temporarily.  Too bad I'll never see him.  Haven't watched 11 Alive since it became non-stop Making a Difference and People Who Care segments.  They ought to just call it "11 Alive:  Feel-Good Stories for Emotional Chicks."  It sure ain't News.



rsp2112
rsp2112

11 Alive has lost their step over the years. Miss the days of Guy Sharpe (RIP). They need to ditch the Wizometer (stop wiz-ing on ATL!) and promote Holcomb to chief to let him rebuild a team of competent on air talent. 

Hank_Hill
Hank_Hill

Sorry, but he lacked credibility with that Curly Howard look.

netradiojock
netradiojock

They should have never let Paul Ossmann go.  He was great.  They should make Chesley McNeil Chief Meteorologist.  He is also good.  In my opinion, he is better and more knowledgeable than Chris Holcomb.

BryanO
BryanO

Wow pretty crazy Ch 11 has lost about what it's staff in the last month?  I like them all, budget slashing???

Eric_2003
Eric_2003

I agree with M-in-the-burbs.  I'm not a big fan of the Wizometer.  I couldn't imagine Guy Sharpe (God rest his soul) forecasting Atlanta weather on a scale of 1-11.


Mike Francis seems like a nice guy, however, I don't think of him as major TV market material.  Unless Little Rock CBS affiliate KTHV (also owned by Gannett) could be wooing him back.   I really don't care for Chesley McNeal either... and I believe that he undoubtedly followed news director Ellen Crooke from Buffalo NBC station WGRZ (another Gannett station) to Atlanta.  Chris Holcomb, who has been at 11Alive since 1991 deserves to be chief meteorologist.

MotocrossSurvivor
MotocrossSurvivor

My money's on him being replaced by a black woman named Laquiesha.

M-in-the-burbs
M-in-the-burbs

How can anyone take their job seriously when you have to distill your forecast to a Wizometer number?

737CPT
737CPT

As for Mike, he seems like a nice guy, but doesn't seem to "fit" in this market. He is high energy and needs to be back in the Central US chasing Tornados!

When it comes down to it, TV Newst & Weather is all about ratings just like the rest of TV....so Mike won't be the last to go, as he wasn't the first to leave! TV personalities are rare birds that come and go with very few staying in place for an entire career!

Best Wishes to Mike Francis!

Crushers64
Crushers64

Say it ain't so. Mike is great and my wife and I love the passion he bring to the weather.  I can still hear him yelling "if you can hear my voice, you're not in your basement and the tornado is coming"!

We'll miss you Mike!

tlh3791
tlh3791

While I'm sure Mike Francis is a perfectly nice guy, I always felt like he was hurling his words at the viewer. Maybe, as a previous commenter suggested, he isn't used to kind of boring weather like we have around here. Not exciting enough for him. IN turn, it made his delivery style seem abrupt and harsh.


No matter...11 Alive has lost its luster. Unceremoniously dumping Paul Ossman, Jill Becker retiring, the over the top flirting between Chesley McNeil and Elle Duncan and the CONSTANT patting themselves on the back for all of their "good works" has made 11 Alive a joke. I watch the news to....wait for it...get the news. I don't care how awesome 11 Alive thinks they are for all they do...most people/companies making a difference in our communities don't need to toot their own horn. They do it to DO IT, not so they can see if their ratings go up.

737CPT
737CPT

Please make Chris Holcomb the chief Meteorologist for the Station as his style is smooth and his presentation on right-on! Also bring back Paul Ossmann as his style is outstanding and his presentations are. Always clear! Bothe these gentleman know their stuff and have excellent TV presentation.

BTC
BTC

Bring back Dagmar!!

FMFats
FMFats

Maybe he's just driving Elle Duncan to Boston.

RaulCastro
RaulCastro

OMG, about time!! Watching him do the weather was like watching a robotic mannequin. Ugh!!

PMDR
PMDR

46 actually does a decent job with weather.  They cut to pre-taped Ossmann last night for the snow preview because he's the only one with prior snow experience.   Good to see them using their staff for best results and not worrying so much about shift territories.     Tracey Hutchings also looks/works fantastic at night.   


I feel for Mike.  11 is a station in flux, however the weather here is actually kind of boring and predictable, except when management wants it to be as exciting as storm chasing.   Making crazy gets old.  


Mike would be great at Fox 5, where they at least say they take weather seriously.   I think part of that was their reaction to Mike joining 11.   Would be fitting to join their team.    I wish him the best. 


SouthEastNative
SouthEastNative

Mike Francis has always seemed so out of place in our market, probably not exciting enough for a former storm chaser.   Here in ATL, Mellish is about the closest you can get on the accuracy scale and  I would rather listen to him then watch the weather soothsayers.   Good luck to Mike Francis, and please run as fast as you can if they want you to do anything as dumb as the Wizometer!

JohnDeere2
JohnDeere2

I thought he was an awesome meteorologist. 11Alive made a mistake if they let him go.

inthemarsh
inthemarsh

He was as good as the rest of them. I wish him well if he's gone.

The_SAWB
The_SAWB

Does Ken Cook remind anyone of those flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz?

As for Mike Franics leaving I’m sure he was a decent dude, but seriously who watches the news on Channels 11 or 46?

RodneyHo
RodneyHo moderator

@ClaudiaScarbroughThey actually cut him off before the end of his contract. They negotiated to pay him off. His contract wasn't set to end til midyear.

737CPT
737CPT

tlh3791.....And as for Brenda Woods' opinions during the late afternoon/early broadcast...she ought to please keep those opinions to herself as she comes accross in a not so arbitrary manner!

CXMorales
CXMorales

@737CPTPaul Ossmann is on Channel 46 dumped the Wiz people right after I found out he was there

RodneyHo
RodneyHo moderator

@737CPTI just spoke to someone inside who said Holcomb will take over.

atl30075
atl30075

@BTC amen, brother!  it never gets too hot in Atlanta for tight sweaters.



budbrigman
budbrigman

@The_SAWB  I consider 11Alive to be the Tosh.0 of news channels. "Here's a story we found for you on the Internet! Which you probably have already seen." Stop trolling the web for videos, and report on some local news. I can't believe I'm saying this, but 46 is a better news station.

737CPT
737CPT

MotocrossSurvivor.....well prices of tickets (mainly fuel costs - when is the US going to stop importing expensive foreign oil/refined fuels...thanks BO) have skyrocketed over the past 3-4 years, especially foreign travel, not withstanding the extra cost of a passport which also has nearly tripled in the past 10-15 years....I think renewal is something like $140 when it used to be $40-$60. After getting past sticker shock, getting past TSA is definately not any fun for the average USA Joe! Why TSA does't profile (officially they cannot say they do), beats the hell out of me! Even though they may, there may be some US Citizens that wear their hats too tight, get brain squeeze and loose it for some reason - who knows why? Yet, with all the hassels that modern Aviation is going through, flying is an extraordinary tasks! Think about where we have come from in such a relatively short time! Dec 2013 was the 110th year since the first powered Airplane flight! Now you can travel around the world, and in some aircraft, without stopping, if you have a properly augmented flight crew to pull the duty! Truly Amazing, if you think about it! Pilots love to fly...the challenges are there to be overcomes by the skilled Aviators of the Modern Day. Happy travelling!

737CPT
737CPT

Yes, I believe Paul left right as Mike F. was hired...he probably thought he was next inline for the Chief Meteorologist's Job at ch 11! Well, 11Alive got exactly what they wanted and lost a great weatherman when Paul left!

737CPT
737CPT

RodneyHo, great...he deserves it and has been skipped over by the "new guys" (Mike F and Chesley Mc) too many times. That makes the workplace a very harsh full place when someone is skipped over, even though there for a while, and the new guys take over! It causes resentment and the passed over employee sometimes starts to look for a home somewhere else and the loosing station (workplace) looses a great employee who already exhibited that he is a company man!

Great to hear the news!

netradiojock
netradiojock

@737CPT ...Paul was the Chief.  11 Alive fired him and replaced him with Mike Francis.