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The Latest: TV station will change ‘Code Red’ weather alert

June 11, 2019
A sign supporting Springfield meteorologist Joe Crain appears at Grab a Java, a drive-through coffee joint, on Monday, June 10, 2019 in Springfield, Ill. The central Illinois city is defending a popular meteorologist who has been absent from local television newscasts since he criticized a corporate weather-alert brand. (AP Photo/John O'Connor)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Latest on the Springfield, Illinois meteorologist who criticized the corporate weather-alert brand (all times local):

9:45 p.m.

The TV station whose “Code Red” weather alert drew an on-air reproach from its meteorologist last week says it is softening the name and developing stricter guidelines.

WICS-TV posted a video to its website Monday night in which general manager Rick Lipps responds to meteorologist Joe Crain’s on-air comments June 5. Crain said during a morning forecast for a “Code Red” weather alert that he understands viewers’ complaints about the brand. Critics say the moniker is overused, unnecessarily alarms people, harms businesses and marks the entire viewing area with the alert regardless of how isolated the storm threat.

Lipps says he can’t comment on Crain’s status. But he says managers will change the community-minded storm alerts to “Weather Warn” because “Code Red may no longer be fitting.” And he says they will work to better define the geographic region “of greatest concern.”

Several prominent advertisers have pulled spots from the station.

Crain declined comment Monday. Representatives from WICS owner Sinclair Broadcast Group, which developed the “Code Red” brand, did not return messages seeking comment.

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3:40 p.m.

A central Illinois city is defending a popular meteorologist who has been absent from local television newscasts since he criticized a corporate weather-alert brand.

Joe Crain has not reported the weather for WICS-TV in Springfield since Wednesday. He noted community criticism over “Code Red” weather alerts implemented by station owner Sinclair Broadcast Group. He says the brand “doesn’t recognize that not all storms are created equal” and that the alerts often worry viewers unnecessarily.

Several local businesses have pulled advertising from WICS. Support for Crain has come from thousands of supportive social media posts and petitions.

Even Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois says Crain was right and that people should speak up for him.

Maryland-based Sinclair did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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