Lo Jelks, Atlanta’s first Black TV reporter, dead at 83

ATLANTA — Former WSB-TV reporter and Atlanta’s first Black TV reporter Lorenzo “Lo” Jelks has passed away.

Jelks’ family confirmed to Channel 2 Action News that Jelks passed away overnight. He was 83.

His family has not commented on the cause of his death.

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.

[PHOTOS: Lo Jelks through the years]

“Once (WSB) took that opportunity of going with someone green like me, someone who had never been inside a television station, I think perhaps that helped with the other stations,” said Jelks, 82, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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.

Arrangements are still being finalized.

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