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KARK meteorologist has not accepted Atlanta job, attorney says

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was originally published June 15, 2011 at 10:29 a.m. Updated June 15, 2011 at 4:55 p.m.

— An attorney for KARK Chief Meteorologist Mike Francis says Francis has not accepted a similar position at WXIA in Atlanta despite reports otherwise, including one posted on the KARK website.

Rick Carr said in an email that Francis is leaving the Little Rock station, where he has worked since 2001, but that "where he's going has not yet been determined."

"Mike has not accepted an offer from WXIA and nothing has been finalized," Carr wrote. "(A)n offer has been made and conversations are continuing -- for now, Mike is simply a candidate for their Chief Met opening and nothing more."

KARK on Wednesday announced Francis would be leaving because he had accepted the Atlanta job. The statement remained on the station's website late Wednesday morning.

Carr said in a phone interview later Wednesday that it wasn't clear why KARK would have issued such a notice.

"They have no interest in correcting it," Carr said. "He's leaving there so they don't feel like they owe him anything."

Asked it there was bitterness between the station and Francis, Carr said there was none "other than they're probably not happy that he's leaving."

Rob Heverling, news director for KARK, said Wednesday afternoon that KARK issued the news release on its website after Francis told him Tuesday that he was resigning because he had accepted the Atlanta job.

He said he learned Wednesday through news reports that the offer had not been accepted, at which point the station pulled the news release.

"Everything that's transpired today was startling to me and frustrating to me," Heverling said, adding he was surprised Carr hadn't tried to contact the station earlier about the issue. "... He never talked to me. I wasn't aware it was wrong."

Heverling said KARK had been in contract negotiations with Francis, but said there is no bitterness between the parties.

"Mike's a good guy," Heverling said. "I'm personally excited for him and his family."

Ellen Crooke, vice president of news for WXIA, declined to comment on the situation.

Carr said the announcement from KARK put Francis in an "awkward position" as contract negotiations for the Atlanta job continue.

"It doesn't make it easier," he said. "Let's put it that way."

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Truthpleez says... June 15, 2011 at 10:55 a.m.

I have to say, Mike Francis is my favorite weatherman, as well as my mom's. We are truly going to miss hearing him say (when tornados are headed to his home town), "Honey, take care of the kids!", or "Honey, get the kids in the storm cellar."

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HarleyOwner says... June 15, 2011 at 2:50 p.m.

Well, if he's quitting before he has another job, he must be ticked about something.

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