Mike Francis Joining WXIA, Oh Wait, Not So Fast

By Andrew Gauthier 

Yesterday there was word from Little Rock that longtime KARK weathercaster Mike Francis was leaving to become chief meteorologist at Atlanta’s WXIA. In the past 24 hours, though, Francis’s attorney has been forced to do damage control because it turns out that he hasn’t yet finalized a deal with ‘XIA.

Rick Carr, Francis’s attorney, spoke with TVSpy this morning and described how KARK jumped the gun in celebrating the veteran meteorologist’s move to Atlanta after 10 years in Little Rock.

Francis’s contract was up for renewal at KARK and the NBC-affiliate was waiting on a decision after submitting its final offer when the meteorologist informed station management that he was moving on, mentioning his (potential) new job in Atlanta.

“Mike’s an excitable guy and just got caught up in the moment,” Carr told TVSpy.

While the station was sad to see him go, KARK wanted to celebrate his jump to a top market and posted the news on its website, only to have Carr later demand that they remove it.

“Everything that’s transpired today was startling to me and frustrating to me,” KARK news director Rob Heverling told ArkansasOnline yesterday, saying that Carr, who is on vacation with his family this week, hadn’t been in touch with him so he wasn’t aware that the post was incorrect.

In reality, Carr says that Francis is a candidate for the WXIA job but that “nothing is finalized.”

“We’re trying to make sure that the Atlanta job is the right job for him,” said Carr, assuring TVSpy that his efforts to quash reports that Francis had accepted the WXIA job wasn’t an attempt to preserve a bidding war with additional stations.

After yesterday’s controversy, KARK’s Heverling emphasized that he’s still excited for Francis and his family. “Mike’s a good guy.”