The year 2011 started off with major changes in TV. “Better Mornings Atlanta” kicked off a new ad campaign at the start of the New Year that featured the uncovered tattoos of CBS Atlanta anchor Brandon Rudat. Since starting at the CBS affiliate, Rudat covered his inked biceps and forearms with long-sleeved shirts, even during Georgia’s brutal summers. I gave the station a big thumbs up for acknowledging that we don’t all fit a mold and allowing Brandon Rudat to be himself and not just another suit & tie.
You may also remember that around the same time, the CBS morning news program “The Early Show” also got a fresh start in the new year. The show’s main anchors of Maggie Rodrigues, Harry Smith and Dave Price were replaced with a younger team. After being passed up for the main anchor chair and kicked off the morning team, Smith eventually left CBS and joined NBC News. Meanwhile the aesthetics the morning show were pleasing; it didn’t really have the desired results in the ratings. Since its debut in 1999, the show has been anchored by Bryant Gumbel, Hanna Storm, Julie Chen, Rene Syler and Russ Mitchell.
So now the show is undergoing another major shakeup. Starting at the first of the year, former Atlanta HLN anchor Erica Hill will be joined by Charlie Rose and Gayle King as the new team at “CBS This Morning”. CBS is going back to show’s previous pre-1999 name. Sounds a little like déjà vu? Probably, but this new team makes more sense than the last anchor shuffle. “CBS This Morning” premieres January 9, 2012 on WGCL-TV, Atlanta Comcast channel 9/809. Check your local listings for specific channel information.
The year 2011 also brought with it a fierce winter storm that shut down the city of Atlanta for nearly a week, not once but twice within a month. On January 9 a winter storm hit the southeast and covered the region with 2 to 8 inches of ice and snow. The frosty mixture is very rare for Georgia, but when Mother Nature does decide to unleash on the South, it’s worth a mention in the record books. The first storm paralyzed the city and surrounding areas for nearly a week. Everything from air travel, rapid transit, schools and most businesses were affected by the great freeze. By the time the second storm hit February 8, the still hadn’t fully recovered but was better prepared to deal with it. As a result of the two winter storms, Metro Atlanta government leaders worked to put a plan in place to be better prepared for unusual winter weather snow storms. The city of Atlanta added additional winter equipment to it inventory and added a number of contractors to provide assistance in clearing roadways.
Changing of the guard on local TV
2011 happens to also be the first time since I was born that long time WSB-TV anchor John Pruitt wasn’t seen on TV in Atlanta. Pruitt who has anchor for both Channel 2 and WXIA-TV, 11 Alive retired in 2010. The popular newsman was one half of a ratings juggernaut with Monica Pearson that has ruled over the Atlanta airwaves for a very long time. Pruitt stepped down from the prominent 11 P.M. newscast he anchored with Pearson. In 2011 Pearson, the face of local news in Atlanta recently stepped down from the 11 P.M. telecast. She now anchors the new 4 P.M. and 6 P.M. broadcasts.
Another local news anchor retired this year. Longtime 11 Alive anchor Jill Becker decided it was time for her leave on a high note. Becker has been with WXIA-TV for over twenty years. When she left the station she anchored the morning newscast with Karen Grier and Chesley McNeil.
Also absent from the Atlanta TV airwaves is Paul Ossmann. The former 11Alive chief meteorologist was let go in July. He was replaced by Mike Francis from KARK-TV. Ossmann was an anchor of Fox 5’s “Good Day Atlanta” when it premiered. Paul Ossmann is still doing what he’s good at, weather. He is constantly updating his legion 3500+ Facebook friends on metro area weather. Currently Ossmann is forging a new path in real estate/radio. He is the co-host of a radio show on WAFS, biz1190 called “Wizard and Oss”.