Dale Russell retiring from Fox 5 I-Team after 38 years

Credit: Rodney Ho/AJC

Credit: Rodney Ho/AJC

He started in Atlanta media in 1979 at WGST.

Dale Russell, the award-winning investigator reporter at Fox 5 (WAGA-TV) since 1985, has decided to retire.

The 68-year-old lifelong Atlantan announced the news Monday evening during the 6 p.m. newscast.

“It’s been a blessing and a roller coaster ride, a good one,” Russell told anchors Russ Spencer and Courtney Bryant. “It never felt like work.”

He thanked Fox 5 for providing him the time and resources to do his job all these years. “I’ve been so proud to be a part of this,” he said.

Russell pointed out stories he was most proud of. The first was showing how customs agents at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport were singling out minority travelers for searches. The story won him a prestigious Peabody Award in 1999.

He said he had to build the case by doing interviews at night knocking on doors at people’s homes. “I had to sit there and convince them to tell us their story and it led to a total revamping on how customs conducted searches nationwide,” he told The Atlanta Press Club when he was inducted into the nonprofit organization’s Hall of Fame in 2013.

Budd McEntee, Russell’s former boss, said in the Press Club video that Russell “puts people at ease. He gets them to say things you would not imagine people would say.”

Another notable exclusive he got was talking to a woman who claimed she had a 13-year affair with Herman Cain, a revelation that affected his failed 2012 presidential campaign.

Russell also cited a recent hour-long special focused on the evidence that led a jury to send Wayne Williams to prison for the murders of two men in 1981.

“I felt like we educated folks who didn’t understand the case,” he said.

Russell said he has no specific plans for retirement beyond relaxing, chasing the grandkids and travel.

He attended the University of Georgia for three years but graduated from Georgia State University in 1977. After a brief stint as a special education teacher at Lithia Springs High School, he joined news/talk station 640/WGST-AM in 1979 and spent five years there as a radio reporter.

In 1985, he joined WAGA-TV’s investigative team and never left.

“I care a great deal about the people I cover,” Russell said in the Press Club video. “That’s just my nature. But at the same time, I hate bullies. I don’t like to see people get away with something. And I don’t like to see the public trust violated. So I am galvanized by that and will follow that trail relentlessly.”