Interview: Former WSB-TV’s Craig Lucie explains why he decided to leave

Originally posted Monday, August 19, 2019 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Anchor/reporter Craig Lucie, at age 38, decided to leave a seemingly secure job at Channel 2 Action News to launch his own company generating video content for corporations of various sizes.

He said he already has several clients in his back pocket, including an ambulance company, an assisted living facility and a financial advisory firm.

His bosses at WSB-TV offered him a solid contract to renew, he said, but he told them in the spring he wanted to leave. His final day was Friday. He sat down with me for an exclusive interview Monday at a Starbucks near WSB-TV before he dropped off his already disabled work smartphone at the front desk.

He abided by a request from the station not to reveal the news until his final day on the air.

“This is a well thought-out risk,” Lucie said. “There’s no better station in the nation than WSB. I didn’t want to go to another market. We love Atlanta. I just wanted to do something else.”

While the fact private equity firm Apollo recently took over a majority stake in the TV station was a minor factor in his decision, he said he probably would have made the move anyway even if Cox had remained majority owner.

Lucie, who was at the station for eight years, said with all the cord cutting going on, he thought this was the right time to leave. He had no aspirations to be an evening anchor for decades a la John Pruitt or Monica Pearson.

His concept, which he will call "Lucie," isn't radical. He simply feels like his narrative skills as a news reporter can be transferred in a way to tell great stories for businesses and non-profits.

“Companies do philanthropic work and instead of relying on the news to cover it, why not cover it themselves?” he said.

In addition, he said, “we can save companies money on hiring a content manager or strategist, save on recruiting and salary and benefits. Plus, they are getting me and my entire production team. I want to be the assignment desk for corporate newsrooms. We can tap the right photographer and production team for the right story.”

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For the ambulance company, he said, he could provide a package or video of life as a paramedic that can be distributed in many different ways and even to a news outlet in a way that they could ultimately use. “I can do special programming and long-form content” for TV stations as well, he said.

He’d love to do a “Charlie Rose”-type talk show with local entrepreneurs. And he’d still like to do traditional journalistic work. “I can do long-form journalistic pieces as long as it doesn’t involve a client,” he said.

His move comes just a couple of weeks after another popular anchor Cynné Simpson at Fox 5 of comparable age decided to leave local TV voluntarily, in her case to work for charitable organizations.

Lucie readily admits his wife Alexandra has a great job as a vice president of Dillard's department store, enabling him the opportunity to forego a very nice WSB salary and jump out on his own.

“I’m in control of me,” he said.

He described his job at WSB-TV before he left. He’d arrive in time for the 8 a.m. OTT streaming newscast. He’d attend a mandatory 9 a.m. editorial meeting to pitch stories. Then he’d do two stories on one subject or sometimes two different stories. He’d be on the road for a few hours and get back by 2:30 p.m. He’d tape promos and teases and finish up his stories, then read scripts for the 4 p.m. newscast, often as late as 3:58 p.m. He’d front a national story during the 5 p.m. newscast, then go home at 5:30 p.m. or so.

Lucie said viewership habits are changing and younger people are not watching local news as much anymore. So he wants to provide content where they can see it - on LinkedIn, Instagram and other social media sites.

“I have never felt so alive,” he said. “I was up at 5 a.m. working on this. It’s so exciting to build something from scratch and know what this could morph into. I like doing interviews and building up companies. I’m excited about creating content in a compelling and not-so-corporate way.”