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11 Alive's Brenda Wood At Home In Atlanta  

By Mike McLeod

Brenda Wood has been a familiar face on Atlanta's news since she was hired by WAGA (Channel 5) in 1988. In 1997, she moved to WXIA where these days she is watched by millions in Atlanta and across Georgia. (She can be seen weeknights at 6, 7, 10 and 11 pm between WXIA and their sister station WATL, which is now myATL.) Affirming her popularity, in 1998 Atlanta Magazine named her "Best Local News Anchor," and she has won 15 Emmy awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and two awards from the Georgia Association of Broadcasters.

Not bad for a career that began as a fill-in job.

Brenda was born in Washington, D.C., on September 8, 1955. Her mother worked as a kindergarten teacher and later as a supervisor of Early Education programs. She was also a pianist, choral conductor and a singer. Her father was a classical singer.

It is no wonder that Brenda has a beautiful singing voice, even though she has never had an "official" lesson, and she is not professionally trained.

Ted Hall and Brenda anchor
the news at WXIA.

"I've heard countless voice lessons being in the sphere of my parents," Brenda reported.
She used to sing in a church choir, but she doesn't sing now. Frankly, her work at WXIA keeps her life extremely busy. Her usual schedule is to report for work between 3 and 3:30 pm and work until midnight. With a half hour newscast to read several times each night, Brenda goes over every script and edits them to create that easy, conversational flow of words that has made her talent seem natural and professional. She also answers email, makes calls and does other background work before her first broadcast.

And if that isn't enough to keep her busy, Brenda also records a newscast that's sent to cell phones and works on her own special feature, "Good People." For this, she does the interviews, writes the scripts, and edits video footage for broadcast. In March, she interviewed and highlighted Becky Douglas and Rising Star Outreach which provides services to people with leprosy and their children in India and who has been profiled previously in Modern Senior Living (June 2007). Brenda enjoys and is inspired by her "Good People," like 8-year-old Katherine who raised $1,000 to adopt and help an abandoned golden retriever get a needed operation after being hit by a car. Another of her Good People is Bryann Chen, who serves as director of the Refugee Women's Network that has helped about 700 women from around the world come to America and establish homes and businesses.

Brenda said that the people she has interviewed inspire her. "Those are the kind of stories that have really impacted my life."

It was probably a little inspiration that led Brenda to get into broadcast journalism.
"It was my first job out of college. I was planning to attend graduate school at Ohio State, but I needed a job to tide me over until I could get into grad school."

After Brenda graduated Summa cum Laude from Loma Linda University in Southern California with a B.A. in Speech Commun-ication and Mass Media, her family moved to Huntsville, Ala., in 1977. There, WAAY-TV offered her that pivotal first job. She found the work to her liking, and her talent for it was obvious. The next year, she went to Nashville, Tenn., to work for WSM-TV as a reporter, but a year later, she was back in Huntsville working for her previous employer. After a decade, she moved to Atlanta and has been here ever since.

Over the years, Brenda has interviewed many notables, including Bill Cosby, Stevie Wonder, Magic Johnson and Jermaine Dupri, as well as senators and congressmen and women. She has also met Cher (who turns 62 on May 20th) while emceeing a benefit hosted by the Atlanta Braves' Wives.

Just prior to the interview for this article, Brenda was doing her own interview with Griffin Bell, the Atlanta stalwart who was appointed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals by Pres. John F. Kennedy and to be the 72nd U.S. Attorney General by Pres. Jimmy Carter.
"Griffin Bell is a walking history book."

Jehan Sadat, wife of Anwar Sadat and the former First Lady of Egypt. Brenda interviewed her in Egypt.

Brenda prefers interviewing historical figures and inspirational people like her "Good People" rather than celebrities. One of her favorite interviews was with Mrs. Anwar (Jehan) Sadat, the former First Lady of Egypt. Brenda traveled to Egypt to interview her at the Presidential Palace there.

"The country gave her the villa after her husband's assassination," Brenda remembered.
Brenda's work has given her the opportunity to travel the world. "I traveled to Amsterdam to study the drug issue for a documentary on drugs and the drug war, and I have visited Columbia and Venezuela for a broadcast on immigration."

Her work has contributed to her love for travel. "My favorite place is Egypt, but also Switzerland, Singapore (which is very hot in the summer, but a very clean city), the Caribbean really any place with a beach."

Brenda Wood hosting the 2007 Going for the GOAL Luncheon. Also pictured (l-r), GOAL CEO Gail Rothman and Founder's Award Recipient Gretchen Collings.
(Photo, courtesy of www.goalonline.org.)

Like others on her news team, Brenda is involved in the community. Anchor Karyn Greer supports Buddy Check 11 for breast cancer, and Chris Holcomb lends a hand to the Race for Research in brain cancer. Brenda Wood has served as emcee and host for the Atlanta Community Food Bank's Hunger Walk for 15 years. Last year, 12,000 people took to the streets to support the walk. Since 1998, she has also supported GOAL A Girl's Journey of Growth which promotes self-esteem, self-awareness and respect for individual differences in girls and young women and provides programs, training and expertise to partners serving girls.

Bringing the news to the people of Georgia is a difficult and demanding job that requires not only professionalism, but also intelligence and a likeable personality. Brenda Wood embodies these qualities, and that this is why she is right at home in Atlanta.

 

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