Posted on the AJC Radio & TV blog
Veteran 11Alive evening anchor Brenda Wood announced today that she’s retiring after 20 years at the station and 40 years in the news business.
Wood, a 2014 Atlanta Press Club Hall of Fame recipient, plans her final newscast on February 7, 2017.
She has interviewed notables from President Jimmy Carter and Egypt’s former First Lady Jehan Sadat to civil rights icons Ambassador Andrew J. Young and Congressman John Lewis to Cher and rapper T.I.. Over the years, she has hosted and produced award-winning prime time specials such as “Remembering the 1996 Olympics,” “A Conversation Across America,” “50 Years of Change,” “Mission of Hope,” and multiple editions of the Emmy winning magazine show “Journeys with Brenda Wood.” She has taken home 20 Emmys and enough other awards to fill a good-sized room.
Over the past few years, she has provided commentaries on her newscast called “The Last Word.”
“I’ve worked hard,” Wood said in an exclusive interview tonight. “I will say I gave it my all and I got rewarded by getting great job offers and great positions. I’ve been truly blessed.”
Wood said in March she negotiated a one-year extension to her contract with her bosses with an intent on retiring in 2017. “I’m getting to leave on my own terms,” she said.
I will post more detailed comments from Wood Friday on this blog.
A D.C. native, Wood worked in Huntsville, Ala., Nashville and Memphis before coming to the Atlanta market in 1988 as an anchor at WAGA-TV when it was a CBS affiliate. She stayed through its transition in the mid-1990s to a Fox affiliate before moving to the NBC affiliate 11Alive in 1997.
Rumors have been emanating out of the WXIA-TV building for months that Wood might not renew her next contract.
Monica Pearson, who competed with Wood on Channel 2 Action News for many years before retiring in 2012 after 37 years at the station, said Wood had hinted to her months ago about possibly retiring. “I’m not at all surprised,” she said. “I’m happy for her. There always comes a time when you say, ‘Enough is enough!’ She’s done everything she’s wanted on television. Her two daughters are married. She has a place in Lake Oconee she loves.”
Pearson said when she, Amanda Davis and Wood competed on different stations, they each provided a different feel for the viewer. “We were not cookie cutter,” she said. “We each appealed to different people. She brings warmth and authoritativeness. She is not over the top. She’s very even keeled. I tended to be over the top!”
Former 11Alive reporter Keith Whitney, who took a buyout this spring after 23 years there, said he has nothing but the deepest respect for Wood’s journalistic chops. “She connects with the audience because she’s a real person,” he said. “She’s a brilliant writer. A lot of people don’t realize that. She’s an excellent journalist, top shelf.”
Donna Lowry, a long-time education reporter for 11Alive who took the same buyout and now works for Cobb County schools in public relations, calls her pending departure “a major loss to the media landscape in metro Atlanta. She’s a journalist with a capital ‘J’ who understands the seriousness of accurate, responsible reporting… She has a laser focused way of seeing something on the screen during breaking news and explaining it to viewers in a calm, professional, conversational manner. Few people can do it better than Brenda.”
By RODNEY HO/ firstname.lastname@example.org, originally filed Thursday, October 6, 2016