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Weather forecaster fired for breaking into an NFL game
January 13, 2006 7:06 AM   Subscribe

For interrupting an NFL game, weathercaster George Flickinger was fired last week by Clear Channel owned KOKI Fox 23 of Tulsa. The reason? Breaking into the Seahawks-Giants game to warn the public during the wildfires [PDF] of November 27. The fires engulfed 50 homes and prompted the governor to declare an emergency the next day. Flickinger's termination was confirmed in the Tulsa World newspaper, unfortunately they want $7 for the article.
posted by rolypolyman (37 comments total)

 
Professional sports will destroy us all.
posted by JHarris at 7:17 AM on January 13, 2006


Don't mess with the mass media folks handing out the bread and running the circuses, even if the empire is going up in flames, so to speak. The show must go on.
posted by Rothko at 7:18 AM on January 13, 2006


So are there, like, relavent bits that could be summarized from the World article, or are we taking blog posts on faith again?
posted by deadfather at 7:21 AM on January 13, 2006


Yeah, details would be useful.

For instance, this implies that the weatherman decides when he goes on and so is responsible for it. But since when did the on-air talent start producing the news?
posted by smackfu at 7:30 AM on January 13, 2006


man capitalism is fuckn' up...
posted by j-urb at 7:34 AM on January 13, 2006


Tulsa World's search results show the preview:
1. KOKI meteorologist fired for breaking into programming - 1/10/2006 - Meteorologist George Flickinger was fired by KOKI channel 23 for breaking into a live professional football broadcast to warn Mayes County residents of dangerous wild fires.
That seems to be pretty unambiguous. For more, someone's going to have to pony up the $7. Any MeFites in Tulsa?
posted by hodyoaten at 7:34 AM on January 13, 2006


From the article -

KOKI meteorologist fired for breaking into programming
Tulsa World (OK)
January 10, 2006
Author: RITA SHERROW World Television Editor
Estimated printed pages: 1

Meteorologist George Flickinger was fired by KOKI channel 23 for breaking into a live professional football broadcast to warn Mayes County residents of dangerous wild fires.

Flickinger interrupted a Seattle Seahawks vs. New York Giants game on Nov. 27 after receiving a request for evacuation from the Mayes County Emergency Management office.

Station officials called the weatherman's failure to wait for a commercial a "negligent" decision, and he was fired without pay.

Flickinger confirmed the firing in an e-mail, but declined to go on the record with the Tulsa World.

The Nov. 27 fire was one of dozens that raged through the state that weekend, fed by winds gusting up to 65 mph, forcing evacuations in several rural areas. Up to 20 families were forced from their homes by wildfires on that day.

Lloyd Colston, director of Mayes County Emergency Management, on Monday said he notified by e-mail all the Tulsa TV stations about the evacuation on the afternoon of Nov. 27, and followed up with phone calls to the major TV stations to make them aware of the situation and the need to get the information to the public.

National and state officials were in Mayes County on Friday inspecting damage to 19 homes and four businesses leveled by the fires on Nov. 27 and 28.

The Tulsa World announced Oct. 29 that Flickinger would be leaving the station at the end of his contract run in January. Melanie Henry, news director at the Fox-affiliated station, declined to discuss Flickinger's firing, stating, "We cannot comment on personnel or employee matters."
Edition: Final Home
Section: Television
Page: D3
posted by bradth27 at 7:39 AM on January 13, 2006


And who gets fired when football interrupts my Futurama? No one that's who. What about my bread and circuses?
posted by skallas at 7:42 AM on January 13, 2006


Well, now he has a reason to fucking leave Tulsa, Oklahoma. Everyone needs a reason.
posted by wakko at 7:43 AM on January 13, 2006


since when did the on-air talent start producing the news?

Well, if you ask Todd Gross, formerly of WHDH, he could tell you that going on-camera when you're not supposed to, Chief Meterologist or not, is a bad idea.
posted by jsavimbi at 7:49 AM on January 13, 2006


Wait, so there was a request for evacuation, but he should have waited for a commercial? Whose the station director-Michael Brown?
posted by jrossi4r at 7:51 AM on January 13, 2006


jsavimbi -- has anyone actually come out with the real story about what happened to Gross? You're implying he got fired for going on the air when he wasn't supposed to, but those links don't corroborate that, and I haven't seen anything more substantive than the original rumor-mongering story that ran in the Herald.
posted by briank at 7:55 AM on January 13, 2006


Pathetic. S'all.
posted by Atreides at 8:00 AM on January 13, 2006


Pathetic. S'all.
posted by Atreides at 8:05 AM on January 13, 2006


Football is a business, like anything else. It is unusual, however, in that in order to maintain profitability, the population of the town in which the business resides must be tricked into thinking the business is somehow their own.

In Oklahoma, this has obviously gotten out of hand.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 8:35 AM on January 13, 2006


Ok... but what the hell is up with the "Tragic events of September the 11th, 2001" animated gif on the site? Why is it that crap like that is more prevalent in hick/rural areas than in the place where it actually happened?

/Tangent

In any case, the blog sucks, and I guess the weatherman learned his lesson.

Do. Not. Fuck. With. Clearchannel.

You mess with evil incarnate, and you'll get burned.
posted by Debaser626 at 8:36 AM on January 13, 2006


So?
posted by OmieWise at 8:41 AM on January 13, 2006


Clear Channel fiddles while Tulsa burns.
posted by FormlessOne at 8:43 AM on January 13, 2006


jsavimbi - I read your links about Todd Gross and didn't find any reference to going on-air without authorization.
posted by stevis at 8:45 AM on January 13, 2006


Count me in with the chorus of people that are somewhat skeptical.
The game was SEATTLE versus NEW YORK fer gosh sakes, now Oklahomans do like football, but this was not any hometown game.
Meanwhile the fires are burning up the area that would seem to affect the residents lives much more directly.

It certainly seems that there is more to the story than meets the eye. I would think that the consumers of the tv product, the ones paying the station's bills, would be more supportive of the weatherman actions than not. So my guess is either the weatherman upset somebody with clout at the office (maybe a exec from Seattle or New York?) OR he got fired for something else.
posted by forforf at 8:52 AM on January 13, 2006


It's just ridiculous. Two teams that couldn't be farther away from Tulsa. Now, if he interrupted an Oklahoma football game I could see some furor but Seattle vs NYG? WTF?!
posted by Ber at 8:53 AM on January 13, 2006


Nope, none of jsavimbi's links say anything about Gross going on at the wrong time, just that he's arrogant.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:03 AM on January 13, 2006


I'm guessing this guy was an "at will" employee, most folks are unless they have a contract that says otherwise. As an "at will" employee his employer has a right to release him if they feel his actions are ...are...whatever...something they don't like.

He goofed, he paid, he'll find another job....what's the big deal!
posted by HuronBob at 9:21 AM on January 13, 2006


I think his unemployment situation is beside the point.
posted by zek at 9:30 AM on January 13, 2006


And by no means should you broadcast the film "Heidi" until the football game is over!
posted by ericb at 9:36 AM on January 13, 2006


"We cannot comment on personnel or employee matters."

Or matters of life and death vs profitability apparently.

In any case the personnel 'matter' Melanie-the-news-director finds herself unable to comment on doubtless goes deeper than this one incident.
posted by scheptech at 9:38 AM on January 13, 2006


Broadcasting stations (TV and radio) are licensed by the FCC to serve the public interest as a public trustee. I can think of few bigger services of the public interest than telling people in the path of a wildfire that they need to evacuate. On its face, it certainly shouldn't merit firing. And although Clear Channel demonstrably aren't the smartest people in the world, even they ought to be smart enough to know that the PR from this would constitute a nasty backlash, if not grounds for challenging the station's license renewal.
posted by lexalexander at 9:40 AM on January 13, 2006


Challenging the license renewal? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! (big breath) Ha ha ha ha ha! Yeah... You kids with your "public trust"...
posted by klangklangston at 9:57 AM on January 13, 2006


klangklangston what are you saying? Are you saying that the FCC is only there to protect the stations? That the whole guise of being there to serve the public only comes in when titties fallout? I sir, am shocked.
posted by geoff. at 10:06 AM on January 13, 2006


Yeh, the same old same old: Gotta go out of your way to be skeptical, instead of, you know, maybe, reserving judgement, or even looking for corroboration.

(BTW, here's what looks like George F's website. Here are some of his pictures. Arkansas News Watch reports (tersely) that he was fired for interrupting the game, but of course tey could have gotten it from Tulsa World. Fun comments, though. But nobody else is posting this stuff, not because you don't think it's relevant, but because you didn't bother to look.)
posted by lodurr at 10:18 AM on January 13, 2006


From bradth27's posting of the article:

The Tulsa World announced Oct. 29 that Flickinger would be leaving the station at the end of his contract run in January.

Nearly all on-air TV personalities have contracts, there is too much at stake for the stations not to have them. However, I'm guessing that Flickinger and the station no longer agreed on things, and he might have also had some sort of financial benefits coming to him on the expiration of his contract, which the station thinks they can avoid by firing him.

Frankly, I'm sure he's perfectly happy with this. His old station (and Clearchannel) look like the jackasses that they truly are, and he looks like a martyr.
posted by MrZero at 11:18 AM on January 13, 2006


"It certainly seems that there is more to the story than meets the eye."

Every time I hear about these stores where a "guy is fired for just doing his job..." or "dude looses job over private weblog/podcast" and my favorite "do-gooder canned due to insane beuraucracy..." I can't help but wonder what the real story is. More often than not these people were on their way out of the door to begin with and the management has just been waiting for them slip up. For those on the inside this guy loosing his job probably comes as no surprise at all.
posted by wfrgms at 12:26 PM on January 13, 2006


That was a good game. Now, if we were talking about a shitty game, like, Houston vs. anyone, than he shouldn't have been fired. I say fuck'm.
posted by graventy at 12:27 PM on January 13, 2006


... can't help but wonder what the real story is. More often than not these people were on their way out of the door to begin with and the management has just been waiting for them slip up.

Probably. But then, what does that mean? In my experience, it often means that management is made up of a bunch of devious weasels who'll sit around waiting for someone to slip up so they can fire his ass.

From teh comments I linked above, I gather that his station is a pretty awful place to work, and MrZero probably has a point: This might be the best thing that could happen to him. Apparently he's got a fill-in gig in Arkansas, and he seems to be pretty well-connected in the storm-chaser community, so I'm sure he'll do well.

All that said, if any station did shitcan anybody with interrupting a football game as the stated reason, they would well and truly deserve to be royally roasted for the offense, regardless fo whether that's teh "real" reason or not. Hell, if it's not the real reason, it's even stupider -- though I suppose they could have given him "refused to kick puppy when ordered" as the reason for discharge.....
posted by lodurr at 2:16 PM on January 13, 2006


Has anyone written to the FCC about this one? If it IS true, I say we press to have the station's broadcast license revoked.

Part of the contract is that the operator of a broadcast station has to work in the public's best interest. Now, this has developed a very wide interpretation as of late, but there is NO, and I mean *NO* rationalization which can make it so that a football game is more important to the public than an evacuation due to wildfires.

The station was therefore failing in its duty to work in my best interest with my airwaves, and I want their license revoked.

If this is true.
posted by InnocentBystander at 8:05 PM on January 13, 2006


The producer on duty at the time for the station would be the one to decide whether to cut into live network programming or not.

The weatherman only stands in front of the camera. A cameraman has to point a camera at him, and the producer has to interrupt the network feed and inject their signal. There also was likely a graphics person and a switcher, and perhaps even a teleprompter operator, all participating in this.

Why would only the weatherman loose his job? The producer, in my mind, would be equally, if not more, to "blame".

But, all of this is besides the point because this is absurd. I hope local residents use this opportunity to start following a competing station's news.

If this is even partially true, then I agree with others thinking there must be "more to the story".
posted by Ynoxas at 9:27 PM on January 13, 2006


Geoff: Stations pay immense licensing fees. The public doesn't. I think, especially under this administration, that is a pretty good predictor of their actions.

Innocent: How could a football game be more important? Well, did you have money on the wildfires?
posted by klangklangston at 11:27 AM on January 14, 2006


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