WSB-TV marks 75th anniversary with yearlong celebration

ATLANTA — Channel 2 Action News marked the 75th anniversary of when we acquired our broadcast license on Jan. 8.

The anniversary kicks off a year-long celebration of WSB-TV’s storied history in Atlanta.

We’ve been so fortunate to share the ups and downs of history in North Georgia with you. The excitement, the heartaches, and the monumental moments that are all a part of your history.

75 years ago on Jan. 8, 1948, WSB-TV was granted its broadcast license. On Sept. 29, 1948, WSB-TV came to life -- becoming the South’s first TV station and today is among the very originals in the nation.

It was a bold move by the Cox newspaper family. Historians believe there were only about 2,500 televisions in Atlanta in 1948.

“It really boomed. It happened so fast. By the time you get to the 1950 election, there were about 50,000 television sets in Atlanta. And by the time you get to the 1952 election, there were like 200,000 television sets in Atlanta. So the growth of television was phenomenal. And so people in Atlanta embraced it,” said Dr. Janice Hume, department head at the University of Georgia School of Journalism.

All these years later from our original home in the Biltmore Hotel, to the stately White Columns building, to where we are today and have been since 1998, we’re so honored that millions of you, our viewers, have been on the journey with us.

Together we’ve been through many unforgettable events -- from wars that changed the world and divided our nation, to assassinations and of course, the Civil Rights Movement, headquartered in Atlanta.


Along the way, you’ve made many of us a part of your family, such as long-time anchor John Pruitt.

“I got a job, really a part-time job, it was labeled. They were paying me $1.25 an hour. Ray Moore was the news director and I think he liked the wage. He was able to pay me even though I was a college graduate, and my job was to do whatever came along. But within a week, because it was the height of the civil rights movement and we had a relatively small news department, I was pressed into service to go out and cover news stories, or at least help experienced people cover the news stories,” Pruitt said.

WSB-TV has been a trailblazer and leader on many fronts, including in 1967 hiring Atlanta’s first African American TV reporter, Lo Jelks.

“Ray Moore did level with me and said that they, at the time, they were checking someone else out for the job, because, as I understand it, they had made a conscious decision to hire Black folks,” Jelks said.

Jocelyn Dorsey made history in 1973 as Atlanta’s first African American woman to regularly anchor a newscast.

Then came perhaps Atlanta’s most recognizable WSB-TV anchor, Monica Kauffman Pearson who anchored broadcasts for decades. She listed her most memorable moments as president Barack Obama’s inauguration, former President Jimmy Carter’s Nobel Prize and, as Atlanta’s boom continues and skyline evolves, we’ve shared growing up together with Atlanta shocking the world in being chosen to host the 1996 Olympic Games.

The city then mourned the Olympic Park bombing.

WSB-TV has led the way with technology and the nation’s best weather teams over the decades, dedicated to keeping your families as safe as possible. We’ve seen so many communities hit by tornadoes over the years. And then those snow and ice events -- from the Blizzard of ‘93 to Snowmaggedon that froze a city in place.

WSB-TV has always been at the forefront of newsgathering, employing the latest technologies, drones, software, and high-quality people to keep you informed.

The last few years have featured so many highs and lows. Who could forget the Atlanta Braves and University of Georgia Bulldogs finally winning it all, ending years of sports heartbreak?

We’ve been together as COVID-19 took over our lives and has forever changed the world.

And with us, you mourned the death of our dear friend and colleague Jovita Moore.

From its birth in 1948 to today, WSB-TV has been a part of sharing life together.

We thank you and throughout this year, we will be celebrating our 75 years of being a part of the Atlanta community.

So, let’s blow out some candles together and all be part of lifting up our great city and state of ours. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

This entire year we will be celebrating – along with all of you – the history of our home and how WSB-TV led the way in coverage and plan to do so for years to come.