Monica Pearson announced during the 4 p.m. news program today that she will retire in July after 37 years on the air on Channel 2 Action News.
“I’ve earned the right to rest,” she told viewers at about 4:12 p.m. “No more breaking news. No more working on holidays.”
But she added, “I will miss you the viewers.”
She plans to write a book, go to grad school and work on a travel website.
Then Pearson joked to her co-anchor John Bachman: I’m old enough to be your mama!”
Her final day will be July 25.
A photo gallery of Monica’s farewell announcement today.
“Wow!” said Pearson on WSB-TV’s website. “Thirty-seven years is a long time to have gone by so quickly. I am thankful for this job every day and for the supreme good fortune to have been allowed to pursue my life’s calling in such an honorable place as Channel 2.”
Pearson, 64, is the longest-running anchor in the market, working through seven presidencies, six Georgia governors and a near doubling of population growth in the state.
She is currently an anchor of the 4 and 6 p.m. news programs. She dropped her 11 p.m. duties last year and joined the new 4 p.m. news after Oprah Winfrey’s show ended.
Jovita Moore, who has gradually been taking on more of Pearson’s roles, will co-anchor 4 and 6 p.m. news for now on top of her current 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. duties. Station manager Marian Pittman said in WSB’s story: “We are taking some time to decide who will take on which shows. We have a great team of anchors and a lot of newscasts. That gives us multiple options for consideration.”
She joins sports guy Chuck Dowdle and Pearson’s co-anchor John Pruitt, two other veterans of Channel 2 Action News, who recently retired as well. Their departures have not impacted the network’s ratings, which remain No. 1 in the market.
For media observers, her announcement did not come as a surprise. Pearson told me in March, 2010 her intention to retired in 2012 and it appears she has kept to her word.
In 1975, Pearson (who was then known as Monica Kaufman) became the first black and first woman to anchor a 6 p.m. newscast in Atlanta.
“With that one hire,” she said to WSB, “they broke the color and gender barrier in local news in a major Southern city. I worked hard to repay that support every day and night over these 37 years.”
Pearson also hosted a celebrity prime-time special called “Monica’s Close-ups” for more than two decades until 2010, interviewing more than 170 celebrities over the years, from Andrew Young to Barbara Walters to Ted Turner.
Monica co-anchored with Jim Wilkerson back in 1978:
This is Monica co-anchoring with Wes Sarginson in 1981:
Here is Monica when she co-anchored with Don Farmer in 1987 (she pops up only in the final seconds here.):
Here she is with Farmer in 1990:
Here she is with John Pruitt from 1995:
And John with Monica in 2007 during the Michael Vick controversy:
Monica’s final 11 p.m. anchoring last year:
And here’s a 35th anniversary tribute to her:
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk