Is this a first? An all-female, all-minority newscast on CBS46

Gurvir Dhindsa and Jennifer Valdez on the CBS46 newscast October 24, 2017 on CBS46.

Posted Tuesday, October 24, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rhhis AJC Radio & TV Talk blogo@ajc.com on 

The CBS46 morning newscast from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. this week has featured the usual elements: breaking news, weather, traffic.

But it’s also unusual and possibly unprecedented: the two primary anchors, the traffic reporter and the meteorologist are all minority females.

That would be Amanda Davis (hired earlier this year), Gurvir Dhindsa (hired on a temporary basis starting this week), Julie Smith and Jennifer Valdez.

Mark Pimental, the general manager, wrote me this morning to say what they had done in terms of racial and gender composition hadn’t even entered his brain. “To us,” he wrote, “it was four talented women who are good at their job.”

“I can’t imagine it was on purpose,” said Will Frampton, a reporter who recently left CBS46 after six years and moved to Boston for personal reasons. “If I had been watching, it wouldn’t have occurred to me. Everyone I know on that show are good people. Julie Smith is phenomenal. Jennifer Valdez is awesome. I only got to know Amanda Davis a little bit but she seems like a nice person.”

Nonetheless, it could very well be a first, at least in the Atlanta market.

“That qualifies as a ‘holy mackerel,’ ” said Michael Castengera, a senior lecturer at the University of Georgia’s Grady School and consultant for local TV news stations. “As far as I know, that has not happened in any TV market.”

CBS46 certainly has nothing to lose in its effort to stand out. Its morning newscast typically finishes fourth in a market where viewers are deeply loyal to their existing newscasts.

Just having two women anchors at the same time is relatively uncommon. Most newscasts in Atlanta feature a male-female combo. The chief meteorologists at all four stations are also all men though every weather team has at least one woman. (CBS46 had the first black female chief meteorologist Markina Brown, who worked there from 2010 to 2014.)

In recent years, CBS46 has hired several veteran newscasters who used to work at other stations. Both Davis and Dhindsa used to work at Fox 5.

The fact Dhindsa is “temporary” is unusual, Castengera said. Personally, I’ve covered local TV here for 12 years and don’t recall an anchor hire ever being tagged with with the phrase “temporary.”

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