Athens, Ga. – Monica Pearson, veteran anchor of WSB-TV’s Channel 2 Action News in Atlanta, has been named the recipient of the University of Georgia’s 2012 DiGamma Kappa Lifetime Achievement Award in Broadcasting.
Pearson will be honored at the annual DiGamma Kappa/Georgia Association of Broadcasters Banquet on March 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the Hotel Indigo in Athens. Following the presentation of the award, Pearson will provide brief remarks to students and broadcast professionals attending the banquet.
In February, Pearson announced plans to retire at the end of July after 37 years with WSB-TV. The 64-year-old’s last day anchoring the station’s 4 and 6 p.m. news will be July 25.
DiGamma Kappa is the nation’s oldest professional broadcasting society for students and was founded at UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication in 1939. It won’t be the first time DiGamma Kappa has honored Pearson-she won its Distinguished Achievement Award in 1989 and its Broadcast Pioneer Award in 2001.
Pearson joined the Channel 2 Action News staff in 1975 and became the first African American and first woman to anchor a 6 p.m. newscast in Atlanta. She has held the same position at the same station longer than any other television personality in Atlanta and longer than most women in the country.
She ended a run of more than 30 years as the Channel 2 Action News Nightbeat anchor in May 2011 when WSB-TV launched its 4 p.m. newscast. Pearson also is well known for her long running special program “Close-Ups,” in which she interviewed nationally known celebrities and world leaders.
The University of Louisville English graduate was a reporter with The Louisville Times for five years. In 1969, she participated in the Summer Program for Minority Groups, later called The Michelle Clark Fellowship at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York. She worked in public relations for Brown-Forman Distillers before joining WHAS-TV in Louisville as a reporter and anchor for three years.
The Louisville native grew up in an area known as Smoketown and graduated from Presentation Academy, an all-girls Catholic High School. Pearson has said she knew at an early age that she would pursue a career in communications. One of her part-time high school jobs included voice-over work for a local black-owned radio station’s religious programs.
For her professional work, Pearson has received some of journalism’s highest honors-30 Emmy awards, the Women’s Sports Journalism Award and two National American Women in Radio and Television Awards. She also was inducted into her home state of Kentucky’s Journalists Hall of Fame.
Additional honors include the Metropolitan Atlanta YWCA “Woman of Achievement Award,” the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics “Friends of Children Award,” the Atlanta Business League Award and the University of Louisville’s Alumni Fellows Award.
In 2011, she received several high-profile honors, including being named a Human Highlight Award recipient as part of NBA Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins’ Legendary Awards, the Champion For a Cause Award from Atlanta Falcon player Chauncey Davis and his Foundation and the Serving Winners “Community Spirit” Award from the Atlanta Youth Tennis Foundation. In addition, Pearson was named to Yahoo!’s list of Atlanta’s 10 Most Powerful and Influential People in 2011.
“Monica is on a first name basis with this community,” said Tim McVay, vice president and general manager for Channel 2 WSB-TV. “In this metropolitan area, when you say ‘Monica’ people know exactly who you are talking about.”
Pearson is a member of various professional organizations, including the Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi, the National Association of Black Journalists, the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists, the Atlanta Junior League, American Women in Radio and Television, the Atlanta Press Club, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
She has served on the boards of directors of Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company, the High Museum and the Alliance Theatre Company, as well as the Metropolitan Atlanta United Way, the Northwest Georgia Girl Scouts Council and the Azira Hill Talent Development Program of the Atlanta Symphony.
According to a WSB report, the organizations that Pearson holds closest to her heart are Senior Citizens Services of Atlanta and her weekly reading program to first graders in Atlanta Public Schools. “I’ve got my seniors and my kids. I plan to keep working with these two well into retirement,” Pearson said.
Married to John E. Pearson Sr., she has a daughter, Claire Deveaux, and a stepson, John E. Pearson II. Her 88-year-old mother, Hattie Edmonson, also resides in Atlanta.
For more information about the DGK banquet, contact Cheryl Christopher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 706/542-3785.
Established in 1915, the UGA Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication offers undergraduate majors in journalism, advertising, public relations, digital and broadcast journalism, and mass media arts. The college offers two graduate degrees and is home to the Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism and the Peabody Awards, internationally recognized as one of the most prestigious prizes for excellence in electronic media. For more information, see www.grady.uga.edu or follow @UGAGrady on Twitter.