An Illinois meteorologist took issue with a corporate policy mandating "Code Red" weather alerts that he felt were over the top. And now, after 15 years at WCIS in Springfield, Joe Crain has lost his job. "Joe was let go," a rep for the CNN affiliate's parent company, Sinclair Broadcast Group, confirmed Wednesday. The development comes a week after Crain spoke out against the new alerts on the air, after receiving multiple viewer complaints about them, reports CNN. "We want you to know it's not us," Crain told viewers in his last appearance on WCIS.
Critics called the alerts alarmist and too broad, and Crain agreed that they fail to "recognize that not all storms are created equal." The complaints seem to have swayed Sinclair: "We have come to understand that the words Code Red may no longer be fitting," WICS responded in a Monday statement, announcing that "Weather Warn" alerts would be issued instead. But the next day, Sinclair began looking for a new meteorologist. Several advertisers are now withdrawing from WCIS with viewers complaining of unfairness, per the AP. The hashtag #FreeJoeCrain is spreading on social media, per AccuWeather.com, while a Change.org petition signed by 700 people reads, "We shall not rest until Joe is reinstated!" (Read more meteorologist stories.)