By RODNEY HO/ email@example.com, originally filed Friday, February 12, 2016
Jocelyn Dorsey was the first regularly scheduled black female anchor on Atlanta TV in the early 1970s on Channel 2 Action News (WSB-TV).
If you thought it was Monica Pearson, you'd be mistaken. Pearson became the first black female evening anchor in 1975.
And given Dorsey's collective contributions to the station and the Atlanta community at large over 43 years, the Georgia Association of Broadcasters is inducting Dorsey into its hall of fame at the University of Georgia on Friday.
Dorsey, who grew up and went to college in Ohio, worked on air as a reporter/anchor at Channel 2 Action News (WSB-TV) for 10 years. She joined the station in 1973 in her early 20s and was given anchor duties less than a year into her time. She covered Atlanta mayor Maynard Jackson's election and they became friends.
"I was a Northerner but once people knew I had that connection," she said in a recent interview, "I was accepted more."
When Pearson arrived as evening anchor in 1975, the two women got along well. "Everyone tried to compare us," Dorsey said. "We didn't let that happen. There were too few of us at the time." (She said she never had a deep ambition to be an evening anchor: "The only incentive for me would have been pay." )
By 1983, she said she wanted to get into management, where she felt she could have more influence. "I wanted to be judged on my competency more than how I looked or what I wore," she said.
She began running WSB-TV's public affairs and local programming department. She’s produced local TV shows in the 1980s on issues such as transportation and public safety. She’s overseen hundreds of public service announcements. She wrote editorials for news managers. ("It was fun taking stands on issues.") She’s organized political debates. She’s run the charity-based Family 2 Family Project.
And 33 years later, she remains what former sportscaster Chuck Dowdle dubs the "backbone" of WSB-TV.
"I'm gratified to see how television can really be used for the good of the community in raising money for charity," Dorsey said. "When we do public service announcements or stories on People 2 People, the community responds."
Over the years, she has been on the boards of the Atlanta Children's Shelter, the Special Olympics, the Children's Restoration Network, Thanks Mom and Dad and the Atlanta Urban League, to name a few. She convinces TV staff to help out at charity events and fundraisers. And staff say it's hard to say no to her.
"She turned the public affairs department into a force to be reckoned with," Pearson said. "Before that, it was just something to do to fulfill the FCC requirements."
Reporter Mark Winne, who joined WSB-TV in 1986, is one of her biggest fans:
She's found her calling in life, the way to use the distinctive suite of gifts God has given her in a way that serves others, and at the same time she makes a living doing it. She lives and breathes the work, rolling up her sleeves and sticking her arms all the way into the dirt to plant, harvest and plant again, year in, year out. She brings zest and joy to it. She digs new technology and she uses it, but her keen people sense has enabled her to be such an effective steward of the considerable resources WSBTV invests in the community. She is a personal heroine and role model and I think she may have the best-- and in some ways toughest-- job in Atlanta television.
Dorsey said she enjoys covering local community feel-good news on her weekly People 2 People program, which airs Saturdays at 5:30 a.m. and Sundays at 12:30 p.m.
She is not sure when she plans to retire but at age 65, she knows the time is getting closer. She is an avid motorcycle rider and would love to travel the country on a Harley before she gets too old to do so.
“All my friends are retiring,” she said. “When they say they’re going to Maine or Colorado, I say, ‘I can’t go!’ "