GPB’s most popular original local program “Georgia Traveler” is bringing back a once familiar face for its seventh season: videographer Phil Proctor.
“He’s larger than life. He lights up the room,” said Dave Zelski, who began hosting the show in 2005. But Proctor was such a presence that Zelski gave him a shot in front of the camera. Over three years, they criss-crossed the state, with Proctor devouring Vidalia onions at an eating contest and seven chili dogs at Jimmie’s in Albany.
“I love to eat,” said Proctor, who embraces the state’s many culinary delights on the show. “I love being in the kitchen.” He said he simply is himself on camera, a bit goofy, a bit exuberant, plenty fun.
He’s experienced, too. Proctor is a 30-year media veteran, spending nearly 18 years at Turner Broadcasting mostly covering sports, including World Championship Wrestling. He came to GPB in 2000, handling a variety of duties, including editing and videography, plus sideline reporting for high school football and basketball.
But in 2008, GPB went through a round of recession-related layoffs and Proctor lost his job. The show continued without him but Zelski and Proctor remained close friends, seeing each frequently off camera. Fans would frequently ask Zelski about Proctor.
Two years later, doctors found tonsil cancer in Proctor’s throat. He fought off the illness with a mix of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and homeopathic medicine. It was no picnic, he said, but he has remained cancer free.
Earlier this year, GPB was able to bring Proctor back as a freelancer on “Georgia Traveler,” which also features Christine von Blokland and Ashley Mengwasser.
On his first day back in the fold in nearly five years, Proctor taped a promo with the group at WhirleyBall in Roswell.“It’s like we didn’t miss a beat,” Zelski said during a break in taping, where they goofed around in bumper carts throwing softball-sized whiffle balls around with a Jai Alai-style scoop.
“David and I have a nice chemistry,” Proctor said. “I’m older. He’s younger. I’m black. He’s white. He’s polished. I’m off the charts. We play off each other well.”
Proctor is grateful to be alive and able to work with Zelski again. “This is the coolest job anybody can ever have.”
“Georgia Traveler,” 7 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 27, GPB
See a trailer of Georgia Traveler on myajc.com.