I’d like us to spend a few moments pondering what that means. Monica has been a fixture in Atlanta since 1975. Her arrival coincided with an era that is likely never to be repeated in the history of mankind. For decades, there were principally three major television networks, and that meant the people we watched on those networks became incredibly well-known – true household names — in every sense of the word. Because of satellite, cable, the Internet and over-all media fragmentation, there will never be another Greg Brady, J.R. Ewing, or a Gilligan. On the local level, it’s likely you’ve seen no single individual more consistently over the past 37 years than Monica. Unlike Gilligan, Monica had a mission. Monica told us what we needed to know.
Monica is humble: Being on TV can go to your head. A small number of very successful newscasters make a whole lot of money, and throw their weight around; not Monica. I was hired at WSB in 1995 — as Clark Howard’s gofer. (Go for this, go for that). Every day, Clark and his “team” would decide what consumers needed to know, and it was my job to gather the facts. One of my first missions was to investigate whether you could truly find bargains — and sometimes treasures — at yard sales. Guess who volunteered to help Clark’s new gofer? The queen of Atlanta television. Turned out, Monica loves yard sales!
Monica is a real journalist: Most news managers don’t care about content, they care about ratings — because high ratings keep you employed, and low ratings get you fired. If you’re a popular anchor, the more popular you become, the less real work you have to do. There has likely never been a more effective ratings driver for any station — anywhere — than Monica Pearson. Monica never took advantage of it. She was a reporter first, anchor second. More importantly, she never dodged a tough issue or took a dive. Let me explain.
Over the years, my role at WSB expanded to ferreting out corruption. Night after night, I busted crooked companies and crooked politicians. Monica had my back. People watched for signs that Monica disapproved of my aggressive truth-telling. She never flinched. In fact, Monica would always end one of my controversial stories with the phrase “Dale, keep digging,” or “Dale, I know you’ll keep us updated.” With Monica’s encouragement, I always did.
Monica made a difference: When you read the history books about the civil rights movement, you see names like Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph David Abernathy and Joseph Lowery. You won’t find the name Monica Pearson, but I believe you should. Monica was the Jackie Robinson of television news. She came to a strange town — in the Deep South, and became the undisputed champion of a profession — dominated by white men. Monica, (along with John Pruitt, Wes Sarginson and Don Farmer), showed us all we could work together, laugh together and care about each other — regardless of our color. Think about it… What other person has had more influence in changing our perceptions of people of different backgrounds and color?
Monica’s secret? She’s REAL. She has the courage to be who she is, accept us as we are, and love us all — every step of the way. Let’s appreciate the next few days of Monica. There will never be another like her.
For great consumer advice and companies you can trust, visit www.Trustdale.com. Watch Dale on TrustDale TV, weekends on WXIA 11 Alive, and don’t miss his consumer problem-solving radio show, Sunday afternoon at 5 on WSB AM and now 95.5 FM.