WSB-TV, which has been the No. 1 station in the market for decades, had an opening and decided to poach Greer from CBS46, where she was a noon anchor and community services director.
“She knows Atlanta and she knows Atlanta stories,” said Suzanne Nadell, news director for Channel 2 Action News. “That’s what WSB is and she is a perfect complement to the station. You’ll see her out in the community and do great stories.”
Greer, now 60, said she had not expected the call. She had planned to stay at CBS46 until retirement.
“You have to pinch yourself,” Greer said. “I truly say this was a God thing for me, a true blessing, a surprise. I’ve always watched this station. We always chased this station. To be at the station everyone is trying to get close to is really remarkable.”
Greer said she left CBS46 on good terms. Hilton Howell, head of Atlanta-based Gray Television, which now owns CBS46, said he didn’t stop her from leaving: “We would never stand in her way. I am proud of her!”
She officially started on WSB this past Tuesday after her contractual six-month non-compete clause lapsed. She is now anchoring the 5 p.m. newscast with Jorge Estevez.
To make a splash, Greer offered up her first big assignment: interview both Gov. Brian Kemp and his gubernatorial opponent Stacey Abrams. Her work was featured this week on multiple newscasts.
“I was very happy the candidates both gave me full access and agreed to sit down with me one on one,” she said.
Greer, a Chicago native, grew up wanting to be a reporter. “My dad and I would pretend to do newscasts,” she said.
She came to the Atlanta market from a station in Charleston, South Carolina, at age 27 back in 1989 to join a new independent news operation at WGNX-TV as a weekend anchor. Within a year, she was promoted to evening anchor, the youngest in the market.
But the station in the 1990s struggled to get much attention or ratings, even after it became a CBS affiliate. She moved to 11Alive, the NBC affiliate, in 1999. where she stayed for 16 years. There, she did a little bit of everything.
David Roberts, who hired her at 11Alive and is now at ESPN, said he is thrilled to see her land her current gig.
“The news business can be cutthroat,” he said, packed with egos and insecure narcissists. “Karyn Greer at that time and even today is just a genuinely authentic, nice human being who happens to be a talented journalist... I know she never gave up on her career dream to be in the position she’s in now.”
Frank Volpicella, news director in 2016 and 2017 at CBS46, said Greer’s Rolodex was peerless. “Reporters would be kicking around stories in the morning meeting and invariably, Karyn would say, ‘I know this person. I can connect you with so and so.’ She’d rattle off names and numbers. She’s an encyclopedia of the Atlanta market when it comes to newsmakers and contacts.”
And while she has pocketed 10 Emmy awards for her journalistic work over the years, her peers say she genuinely cares about community service work.
Evelyn Mims, community relations specialist at 11Alive from 2005 to 2015, said Greer was the person who would notice when a camera person was missing or if a photographer was having a baby. “It was nothing for her to call and check in on them or send them a basket,” Mims said. “She’s Catholic but it was nothing for her to go to a Baptist or Methodist church and emcee an event.”
Mims said she has watched Greer work a room and is amazed by how well she connects with fans: “She should have been a politician.”
Broadcast news can be brutal on one’s personal life. But Greer’s two adult sons both said despite the often weird hours and holiday assignments, they never felt neglected.
Kyle Greer Johnson, her older son who works at Bounce TV, said he remembers calling her at 11Alive when he was a kid while she was on the air. He might have had a question about homework or a complaint about his brother. No matter how trivial, she never got upset. “She’d answer me between commercial breaks,” he said.
TJ Anthony, her younger son, now works as a reporter at WMAZ-TV in Macon. “She was at all the football games and baseball games and basketball games,” he said. “She made time even during the week. She was always there for us.”
And now that he’s in the business, they talk to each other every day and share notes. “She watches me from Atlanta and gives me constructive criticism, which I appreciate,” Anthony said.