Longtime KOCO meteorologist Rick Mitchell is heading to the severe skies of Dallas TV.
By Phil Bacharach
KOCO Channel 5 chief meteorologist Rick Mitchell is leaving the Oklahoma City station next month to do the morning weather at KXAS, the NBC affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Mitchell, who has been with KOCO for 18 years, called the move the toughest decision he’s ever had to make.
“I think it was a combination of a perfect storm, if you want to use a weather term, of an opportunity there,” he said. “I’ve loved my time here [at KOCO], but after a while, you think, ‘Well, what else can I do?’ There are only one or two places I would choose a job in over Oklahoma City. I’m not going to go to Cleveland. I’m not going to go to Atlanta, but Dallas has always intrigued me. I like Dallas. I love Oklahoma City, but this just happened to be one of those places.”
The Dallas-Fort Worth market is also much larger, the fifth biggest in the nation, according to Nielsen. Oklahoma City ranks 44th.
Mitchell became KOCO’s chief meteorologist in the summer of 1994, succeeding Vince Miller. Over the years, Mitchell has been a familiar face in Oklahoma City’s television weather wars, with his straightforward manner and sonorous voice sometimes a stark contrast to the more urgent delivery of his competitors.
“I don’t think I’ll ever work in a place where people are as into the weather as they are here in Oklahoma,” he said. “That’s what made the 18 years fly by.”
A Nebraska native who also has forecasted weather in Des Moines, Iowa, and at AccuWeather in State College, Pa., Mitchell described his impending departure as “bittersweet.”
“I still have relatives here and my daughter’s going to be going to [college] here in Oklahoma. I still feel like this will be home,” he said. “I know that sounds strange and probably it will change over time, but that’s what I’m telling myself to help me get through the transition.”
His final day at KOCO will be Aug. 20, while Aug. 27 will be his first day on air at KXAS.
Mitchell admitted that getting up so early in the morning will take some adjustments.
“Thank goodness I started drinking coffee a couple of years ago,” he said with a chuckle. “My wife is excited because she will get to have me home in the afternoons and the early evenings.”
The couple has two children. He praised his soon-to-be former employer.
“Not to sound cliché, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to KOCO and Hearst, our parent company,” said Mitchell. “I wouldn’t have stayed 18 years if they wouldn’t have given me a great place to work.”