Brenda Wood Says Farewell Tomorrow Night On 11Alive.

Getting questioned on transportation funding by Brenda Wood – Stefan Turkheimer’s hands, also pictured

One of the more unexpected parts of my accidental journey into blogging was becoming a political analyst for WXIA 11Alive in Atlanta. That began 6 years ago when Doug Richards was helping the station fill expanded coverage with Icepocolypse, or whatever we called it that year. Grayson “SpaceyG” Daughters and I got about ten minutes to debate whether Atlanta would never be able to show its face in public again or if no one would care in 90 days when the Azalea’s bloomed at Augusta. Richards was a fellow blogger and thus was as much “one of us” as “one of them”.

Along the way I got to know Jeff Hullinger who was quite approachable/familiar from his 96 Rock days, and quite a few of the team of reporters that are always running around at 90 miles an hour but can quickly look calm and composed when the camera turns on – then quickly return to entropy as soon as they’re off to get the next story. All good people, all very human and normal behind the camera.

It was something a bit different when I got to start taking segments with Brenda Wood. She’s Atlanta media royalty. I felt like I needed to pretend to behave during the segments we shared. The others I had/could cut up with. I was honestly worried about embarrassing her. She has earned that reputation.

Over the years, I’ve gotten to know her much better. I would still never embarrass her on purpose. Maybe I have unintentionally. I am me, after all.

What I’ve found is that beyond the aura of one of Atlanta’s longest serving, consummately professional anchors is a real person. She’s kind. She’s genuine. She knows what she’s reporting well before it goes into a teleprompter. She asks the right questions. She seeks to understand what she doesn’t know. And – especially important to folks like me and the folks who read this blog – she wants to report the news, not skew the news to her favor.

Only recently has she be able to do some editorializing with her “Last Word” segments. She was able to make public some of her strong opinions, but has done so in a way that is still inclusive and about coalition building. Many have used similar opportunities to build a brand. She used the platform to build bridges.

Above all, I think she wants her work product to leave the viewer knowing more, with an ability to use that information to make the city and state into a better place. Her 20 years experience with WXIA and 40 years in broadcasting has given her understanding how, and when, to do just that.

I’m not sure what the next chapter for her entails, but I’m anxious to find out. Whatever it is, I’m sure it will involve her leaving the city better off than when she found it.  Just like she has during her time on the anchor desk.

Thanks for being you, Brenda Wood. See you on the other side.

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