Family, friends gather to remember Lo Jelks, Atlanta’s first Black TV reporter

ATLANTA — The Atlanta community gathered to remember the city’s first African American television reporter.

Lorenzo “Lo” Jelks family members, friends, and supporters honored him Saturday at Antioch Baptist Church in northwest Atlanta.

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He passed away at the age of 83.

Jelks was part of the WSBTV family and helped pave the way for many other journalists.


Jelks joined WSB-TV in 1967, making him the first Black television reporter in Atlanta, paving the way for many more broadcasters after him. He stayed with WSB-TV until 1976.

“To have that honor of working in that kind of environment just thrilled me so,” Jelks told Channel 2′s Karyn Greer.

Born in St. Petersburg, Fla., Jelks got his start in radio. He ran a weekly music radio show as a high school student in 1955.

He graduated from Clark College, now called Clark Atlanta University, in 1961 and was operations manager at WIGO-AM, a R&B station, in Atlanta when he get the call from WSB-TV.

“I remember [WSB-TV News Director Ray Moore] saying, ‘Here we are talking about all these situations on air and we don’t have a single Black person working here,’” Jelks recalled during WSB-TV’s 75th Anniversary celebration.

During his first year at WSB-TV, Jelks was not seen on air. Instead, he was only identified by his name on the screen. The next year, when Jelks was seen on air, station management was able to remind critics they had been hearing from Jelks for a year.

“[We’re] so grateful that he’s had an opportunity to be celebrated so much in the last several months of his life, and thank you all for your kindness, friendship and support of him,” Jelks family said in a statement to Channel 2 Action News.

Jelks was inducted into the Atlanta Press Club Hall of Fame last year.

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