By Rodney Ho
David Chandley, a meteorologist with Channel 2 Action News for 25 years, announced in a staff meeting Wednesday he plans to leave the station at the end of his contract July 11.
News director Mike Dreaden confirmed Chandley’s intentions but declined to comment further.
A University of Georgia graduate, Chandley joined WSB-TV in November 1988. He appears on the daily 5 p.m. newscast.
Chandley has won five Southeast Emmy Awards and taken home the Associated Press Best Weather Reporting Award 11 times, most recently in 2012, according to his biography on the WSB website (which was taken down later in the afternoon.)
UPDATE: He released a statement on Facebook at about 7:30 p.m.:
After 25+ years at WSB-TV, I have decided to not renew my contract. @lhchandley and I have faith and trust in The Lord's plan for our lives. My career goal has always been to be a chief meteorologist and when my current contract expires on July 11th, that pursuit will begin. Please follow me on my new twitter account @davidchandley
If he leaves July 11, he has a 180-day non-compete clause that will prevent him from immediately joining any other Atlanta TV station until January, 2015.
UPDATED July 7: In a follow up interview, Chandley said he hungers to be the boss. "I want to be the one who is able to dictate and initiate how weather is covered," he said. "The sports analogy is I've been the back-up quarterback for many years. I want the responsibility to be the lead quarterback. I want to know what that feels like."
Glenn Burns has been the long-time chief meteorologist at WSB. He realized Burns wasn't planning to retire any time soon so he felt this was the right time to make a move. He said he told management in April and was aware the bosses were hoping he'd change his mind. But his mind was set.
"It's a great company," Chandley said. "They're good people. They couldn't provide me what I wanted for my career goals. That's why I have to go elsewhere."
Chandley said he's proud of his consistency, being the "calming voice during severe weather."
He's also amazed that he, Karen Minton and Burns have been together for nearly 26 consecutive years at the same station. (Brad Nitz joined as a fourth a few years back.) "It's bittersweet," he said, breaking up the family.
“I’ve known him since he had a perm!” said Monica Pearson, the former WSB anchor who retired in 2012 after 37 years. “He has the meteorology background, of course, but more importantly, he understands the history of the metro Atlanta area. He’s a Georgia boy. He also has that common touch. I love it when he goes out and covers tornadoes and is able to tell a story through people’s eyes.”
UPDATE: July 3, 2014: Chandley added fresh comments this morning on his Facebook/Instagram:
It's the 1st day of the rest of my life. Words cannot express how I feel this morning reading all the comments on social media. I am a blessed man challenged to be better man. I have a loving family, supportive friends and colleagues, and serve a God that gives me immeasurably more every day. Keep following me thru this journey. Today, it's a round of golf with some special people.
There have been plenty of changes on the TV news weather front this year.
Last month, Fox 5 chief meteorologist Ken Cook announced he was retiring after 35 years. His departure date has not been announced beyond the fact it will be sometime this summer. A Fox spokeswoman said the station is holding a nationwide search. Steve Milone, a weekend meteorologist, also announced his departure a few days ago.
Earlier this year, Mike Francis was let go as chief meteorologist at 11 Alive, the NBC affiliate. Francis said in a blog Tuesday that he has become a Keller Williams real estate agent.
"We'll see how it plays out," Chandley said.
He plans to take the six-month break to enjoy his new home in Inman Park. He will walk and bike, as well as play golf and get even more involved with Passion City Church.