Just 10 days into Gray’s ownership of WGCL, the Atlanta-based company wooed Monica Kaufman Pearson out of retirement to join the CBS affiliate. Pearson is well-known in Atlanta for her 37 years as news anchor on WSB, where she was the first Black female evening anchor in the city.
Gray Television became the new owners of WGCL, the CBS affiliate in Atlanta previously owned by Meredith, on Dec. 1, 2021.
Erik Schrader had already been announced as the station’s new general manager in November.
Just 10 days into Gray’s ownership of WGCL, the Atlanta-based company wooed Monica Kaufman Pearson out of retirement to join the station as host of two news programs.
Pearson is well-known in the Atlanta TV market for her 37 years as news anchor on ABC affiliate WSB, where she was the first Black female evening anchor in the city. Pearson retired in 2012.
On Dec. 22, WGCL announced two new executives will be joining the station. Kim Saxon is WGCL’s new news director and Josh Morey is the station’s new creative services director.
“It’s great to bring people of this caliber to join the already amazing team at Gray’s hometown station,” Schrader says.
Schrader came to WGCL from WOIO in Cleveland. Saxon from WBTV in Charlotte, and Morey from WBRC in Birmingham.
The hire most familiar to Atlanta news viewers is Pearson. And Schrader credits Gray for its quick action.
“I am glad we were able to move quickly on it,” Schrader says. “One of the things that really makes Gray great is, if there is a good idea on the table, then hey, let’s do this. This made sense, this was a smart move.”
You know it’s a good move when the CEO of the company is in the room during the interview.
“The CEO of Gray, Hilton Howell, was there,” Pearson says. Pearson had not met Howell prior and didn’t expect the CEO to be there. But when Howell mentioned how much he enjoyed her interview programs on WSB, and wanted her to do that on WGCL, “that is when I said ‘you got me.’ ”
Pearson’s reputation extends beyond Atlanta. Schrader says when news of her hiring became public, he heard from people all over the country.
“It seems like everybody in our business knows who Monica is,” Schrader says.
Schrader says hiring Pearson was “a no-brainer in a lot ways. She has a lot of ideas. She has a lot of amazing contacts. I just think it is going to be a great series of specials.”
And hiring Pearson is just part of the goal of making WGCL “the news destination in Atlanta,” Schrader says. “We are going to align with the best people and tell the best stories,” Schrader says.
Although Pearson will not be anchoring any regular newscasts on WGCL, she will be doing a series of specials.
“She is a tremendous interviewer and has done extremely successful interview specials for many, many years,” Schrader says. “We are going to pick up that tradition with her.”
“I am excited about the fact that Gray wanted me to come work for them,” Pearson says. “I said to my daughter, to my husband, my mother-in-law, I feel like I’m starting over all over again. It is so new. I have got this energy now. I am truly excited and I don’t get excited about a lot, but I am excited.”
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