In one of the most gradual transitions in local broadcast TV, the sturdy duo of John Pruitt and Monica Pearson on Channel 2 Action News has been shifting to the new generation of Justin Farmer and Jovita Moore.
The latter pair already handle the 5 p.m. hour. Earlier this month, Pruitt passed the 11 p.m. torch to Farmer. Pruitt and Pearson now only anchor together during the 6 p.m. newscast.
Both Pruitt and Pearson have said they plan to retire soon, though Pearson’s departure isn’t set until 2012. Pruitt has not given an exit date yet.
Pruitt and Pearson have anchored together for 16 years, with a combined 78 years in Atlanta local news. Pearson started in 1975; Pruitt, who has worked at WSB and NBC affiliate WXIA-TV, began his career in 1967.
Channel 2 Action News is the top-rated newscast at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.
News director Marian Pittman sent me this email about the shift.
After 41 years on a night shift, John wanted his evenings free. He is an extremely valuable part of our team and we were happy to make this request. He has certainly earned evenings off. John is anchoring the highly rated Channel 2 Action News at 6pm and very much a part of WSB’s fabric. For example, John anchored election night and will be back from time to time on the night shift. We are very happy with Justin Farmer’s performance at 5:00. Viewers have accepted him and this made his additional responsibilities on the Channel 2 Action News Nightbeat an easy decision. Justin is a great addition to the great night side team.
Year to year, our ratings are up at 11pm.
Pruitt himself in an email repeated much of what Pittman wrote:
Thanks for asking about my new schedule. Having worked nights for 41 years, it’s a welcome change to go home in the evenings after the 6 PM newscast and enjoy my family. It’s also a bit strange to have this freedom, but I am happily adapting.I’ve been discussing coming off the 11 with [General Manager] Bill [Hoffman] and Marian for some time, and after a strong May book, the timing seemed right. I’ll still anchor election coverage and perhaps other news events after dark from time to time.It’s pretty obvious as I step back from first the 5 and now the 11 that myretirement is on the horizon. But we haven’t announced a date.