Monica Pearson’s Channel 2 anchoring career concluded just like it began – with John Pruitt by her side.
“Thirty-seven years ago we sat down and co-anchored your first newscast,” said the retired Pruitt, who made a surprise return to WSB to sit beside his longtime friend and colleague for one segment during the 6 p.m broadcast. “And here we are. We’ve come full circle.”
Justin Farmer usually co-anchors at 6 p.m. but graciously scooted aside so Pruitt could resume the anchorman mantle for just a few minutes.
“I feel like Kanye West,” Pruitt joked. After a video of highlights, retired sportscaster Chuck Dowdle appeared on the set.
“This feels so good – nothing against the kids, as I call them!” Pearson said, reunited for a moment with her longtime on-air teammates.
A huge round of applause broke out in the Channel 2 newsroom as Pearson headed into the studio one final time and again as she returned after her final sign-off. Each broadcast featured kind words for the widely admired journalist and community volunteer.
“You really have been an inspiration to me,” meteorologist Glenn Burns said during the 4 p.m. newscast, “both here and behind the scenes. We’ve had good times.”
Her 4 p.m. co-anchor, John Bachman, thanked Pearson for her mentoring presence.
“I have learned so much sitting in this chair,” he said after a video clip showing U.S. Rep. John Lewis, Oprah Winfrey, Katie Couric and Robin Roberts wishing Pearson well. “It has been an absolute honor.”
During the 5 p.m. newscast, Pearson joined Farmer and Jovita Moore for a few minutes of happy banter following a video of highlights.
“People are betting that Monica is going to cry,” Moore joked.
“It takes little kids and old people to make me cry!” Pearson quipped in response.
Meteorologist David Chandley saluted his friend and colleague with a graphic of Sanford Stadium in Athens, welcoming Pearson to “Dawg Nation.” (She plans to attend graduate school at the University of Georgia now, aiming to teach one day).
“It’s been a blessing,” Chandley told Pearson of their many years working together.
Earlier in the day, Pearson’s arrival in the newsroom created a minor stir, with many staff members posing for pictures and the AJC’s ebullient photographer John Spink capturing every moment of her last day after 37 years.
“Look at all this stuff!” Pearson said as she walked into the newsroom and discovered an array of flowers, cards and other gifts from well-wishers.
Festivities building up to the big day have been going on for months. Yesterday she and Jovita Moore, whose role at the station expands with Pearson’s departure, made a tour of local radio stations.
Pearson, who penned a letter to Atlanta that wrapped today’s print edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, says she’ll be an anchor/reporter emeritus now, continuing to make appearances on behalf of the station and returning for occasional specials.
“It has been my honor and my pleasure to work for you,” her letter said. “For me, the time has come to say, ’see you later,’ after working for the best station in the nation with the best viewers in the world.”
The 4 p.m. broadcast featured a clip showing Pearson singing “The Wind Beneath My Wings” at a staff luncheon held earlier this week, and thanking her colleagues.
Moore appeared toward the end of the broadcast, carrying a bouquet and blinking back tears. Burns joined her in a little waterworks. But not Pearson.
“There’s a bet out there and I’m not going to cry because I want the $25!” she joked.
As 37 years came to an end, Pearson looked into the camera and directed her final parting words to the viewers.
“I am overwhelmed by your kindness,” she said. “It is you I will miss the most. Thank you for allowing you into your home.”
- Jennifer Brett/The Buzzfirstname.lastname@example.org