Famed weatherman Al Roker caused a hurricane of his own when he accidentally hit the wrong button during a tense email exchange that was leaked to the public. The incident shortly preceded the cancelling of his Weather Channel show, though that was not the reason given for the cancellation.
The exchange serves as a lesson to anyone who uses email in the workplace, to be careful with “reply all.”
Roker was in an email argument with several members of the Weather Channel, including the Weather Company’s TV division President David Clark, discussing how to cover the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, with the bosses set on focusing their attention instead on Tropical Storm Erika, which may have been headed for Florida at the time.
Roker disagreed, saying correctly that Erika would not have made landfall in Florida until the following Monday if it made it at all.
Ultimately, the storm dissipated over Cuba and was much ado about nothing.
“I don’t understand why [meteorologist] Steph [Abrams] and I aren’t together on the actual anniversary day of Katrina’s landfall. There is nothing happening Saturday in Florida,” Roker wrote, according to NewsBlues, which broke the story.
Roker contended that the station already had two people in South Florida to cover Erika and that more attention should be focused on Katrina.
“I could not disagree more with this decision,” he wrote. “We will have a phalanx of people talking about a storm Saturday that our graphic will show is not possibly making landfall till Monday … if then. Viewers aren’t stupid. They can see when potential landfall is, assuming it holds together.”
“In the meantime, there are a lot of stories to tell about Katrina while pivoting to Erika.”
At that point he said something that clearly got his boss’ attention, and not in the way one wants to get his boss’ attention.
“The reason we are in the trouble we’re in is an intransigence of management when it comes to a decision and an unwillingness to pivot,” he wrote.
An obviously angered Clark responded, “If you disagree with a decision you are welcome to speak up, you have more than earned the right to do so, but this is out of line and not how we do things here.”
That’s when Roker made his mistake.
The weatherman intended to reply only to Clark, but instead hit the “reply all” button and sent the following message:
“Really David. You want to try and spank me in front of people. You want to do this?” he wrote.
Realizing his mistake, Roker quickly apologized.
“Folks, I want to apologize if I embarrassed anyone. I didn’t mean for this to be a public argument,” he wrote. “I replied on a cc: that I didn’t mean to. We all want the same thing, best possible product, and a real outcome for our viewers. Hey, the good news is, you all read your emails.”
Clark accepted his apology, writing, “Thank you for that Al, respect. We are all on edge right now. Don’t mind open dissent when constructive and we want your best thinking on this storm. As you say, let’s get focused on making the best product and move forward and thank you for being on the team.”
But days later, Roker’s show, “Wake Up with Al,” was cancelled for what the station said were monetary reasons.
Roker’s show was the only one produced in New York, where costs are high.
“I’m proud of what our “Wake Up with Al” team brought to the Weather Channel and completely understand the decision to move all shows to Atlanta,” Roker spokeswoman Heather Krug wrote.
“I look forward to continuing to partner with the Channel on-air and through my production company on future traditional and digital projects.”
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