Being a chief meteorologist at a major TV station is still a big deal, even in this day and age when weather is at your smartphone fingertips. Forecasts remain a staple of TV news, especially when storms are forthcoming.
So when a TV network finds a good meteorologist, they try to keep him or her as long as they could.
Michael Castengenra, a University of Georgia senior lecturer at the Grady College of Journalism who does consulting work with TV stations (none in Atlanta), said he does market research with what viewers want in their local news and who the meteorologist is lands in the top 5. “Candidly,” he said, “in some markets. the chief meteorologist is more important than the main anchor.”
But in an unusual turn of events, three of the four Atlanta broadcast networks have lost their weather chiefs for different reasons this year. 11 Alive let go Mike Francis in January over issues of performance. Over at Fox 5 (WAGA-TV), Ken Cook retired after a glorious 35 years on air this past summer. (Long-time weather man Chris Holcomb ultimately took over.)And Markina Brown earlier this month voluntarily left CBS46 for new, as-yet unmentioned, ventures.
UPDATE at 5:24 p.m. Monday: I posted this around 3 p.m. today without realizing new news director Larry Perret had hired someone from his Kansas City news director days: Jim Kosek. More details here. So the rest of this is now out-of-date speculation. I’m sorry!
Fox 5 has not filled the slot yet but there is an expectation that David Chandley, who left Channel 2 Action News after more than 25 years over the summer, may take that slot once his non-compete is up in January. (Glenn Burns has been the chief there for more than three decades.)
If Fox 5 doesn’t work out, Chandley could opt for CBS46, though Fox has higher ratings and a presumably bigger budget to compensate him.
Brown’s spot could also be filled in house. Jennifer Valdez, who has been with the station for six years, has a strong following as a morning meteorologist.
Michael Castengenra, a University of Georgia senior lecturer at the Grady College of Journalism who does consulting work with TV stations (none in Atlanta), said he does market research with what viewers want in their local news and the top 4 topics are weather related. The meteorologist, he said, often ranks fourth most crucial. “Candidly,” he said, “in some markets. the chief meteorologist is more important than the main anchor.”x
Paul Ossmann has been a regular fixture in Atlanta for 26 years, 24 of them at what is now Fox 5 (WAGA-TV) and 11 Alive (WXIA-TV). He was let go from 11 Alive in 2011 (read my story here) and hired for weekend work at CBS46 in 2012, where he has been ever since. Ossmann is currently helping cover weekdays after Brown’s departure.