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KNBC lets weatherman go

Christopher Nance, who joined the station in 1985, loses his job amid allegations of sexual harassment, which he denies.

December 31, 2002|Brian Lowry | Times Staff Writer

Veteran KNBC-TV weatherman Christopher Nance has been let go by the NBC-owned station after months of uncertainty regarding his job status, stemming from what he says are unfounded allegations of sexual harassment.

Nance -- who joined the station in 1985 on its weekend newscasts and most recently appeared mornings, including local weather updates during the "Today" show -- was suspended in August for what the station described only as "a personnel matter." Station sources said the action stemmed from what was deemed inappropriate conduct with an intern.

Nance, 47, was subsequently reinstated while station officials continued to investigate the allegations. According to Nance, he received the news from KNBC's general manager, Paula Madison, on Friday. "She said I was being terminated, and that was it," he said Monday, adding that he hasn't ruled out pursuing legal remedies against NBC.

Nance said he was "blindsided by these accusations," which arose over the summer when he was undergoing marital difficulties that have since been resolved. Regarding his relationship with the intern, he said, "There was nothing inappropriate about it. There was nothing physical. There was nothing sexual."

An NBC spokeswoman read a statement saying that Nance "no longer performs services for KNBC. We cannot provide any further information at this time." Danny Romero and John Stehlin are filling his weather chores on an interim basis.

Nance contends that the station began broadly investigating him after the charges and that "ever since then, I knew it was just a matter of time for me.... You don't stay anywhere for 17 years and not have some enemies."

Among the complaints registered against him, he said, was the fact that he had begun bringing a Bible to work with him after the sudden death of his brother because of an aneurysm in September.

In addition to his on-air responsibilities, Nance had been active in KNBC's community outreach efforts, reading to children at area schools as part of the "Let's Read 4 Life" program. His Web site says he has talked to more than 600,000 students as part of his "Let's Talk Weather" and "Let's Read Together" visits.

Although Nance was honored multiple times for those efforts -- including a resolution by the Los Angeles City Council -- he acknowledged he's been questioned about his involvement with the program, since various children's books that he wrote were sold in conjunction with his appearances.

Nance said he had been forced to charge to help pay for the appearances after NBC reduced its support for his outreach efforts several years ago, adding that "nobody had a problem with it," either at the station or the schools.

Nance, who was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia, was also active in various charitable and fund-raising programs regarding the disease, forming his own foundation in 1996. His Web site uses his nickname, "Weather Dude," which is attributed to what one of the kids called him when he appeared at an inner-city school.

Nance said his sickle cell relapsed during the fall -- a combination of stress from the charges and his brother's death -- but that his health is now fine.

As for why the station would fire him if the charges were baseless, as he contends, Nance said, "We have some inexperienced managers that are very skittish about what the people back in New York are going to say."

Nance did acknowledge that he had dated interns at the station many years ago, long before he was married. In 1990, he also obtained a restraining order against a Pasadena woman who he claimed had been stalking him. The woman maintained she had a long-standing relationship with Nance, which he denied.

The weatherman also made news last year when an escaped inmate being sought by the Sheriff's Department called KNBC, saying that he wanted to surrender to him. The inmate didn't show up for the planned surrender but was rearrested a week later.

Before KNBC, Nance worked as a weathercaster at stations in San Francisco and Monterey.

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