Monica Pearson, the queen of Channel 2 Action News for more than three decades, has been off our TV screen for more than nine months since her retirement, but she is now host of a new Public Broadcasting Atlanta travel show.
The network convinced Pearson to host "Which Way to the World," which will air periodically. On the program, Pearson introduces a foreign country, highlighting the culture, customs, natural wonders and travel destinations. This Tuesday, the show will feature China. Aprili 16 will be Switzerland.
The downside for both PBA and Pearson: she doesn't get to travel.
"We wish we had the budget to send her to China," said Nancy Hodinott, PBA spokeswoman, "but she'll be doing all her segments from PBA 30 studios."
Pearson, in an interview, said she did it partly because she likes public broadcasting.
"I'm not doing it for the money," she said. "I'm doing it for fun and to keep my skills sharp." (She hasn't ruled out one day re-joining an anchor desk in some capacity.)
For now, Pearson has been mostly focused on receiving a master's degree in mass communication at the Grady School of Journalism at the University of Georgia in Athens, driving 90 minutes each way twice a week.
She hopes to parlay her degree into a teaching job.
Pearson said despite her extensive on-the-job experience, she has learned quite a bit in her classes. "Media theory. Diversity. Women's studies. It's not all what you think," she said, adding that she may have approached her job differently with the knowledge she has since picked up such as greater awareness of stereotypes in the news.
During her long commute, she said she listens mostly to Sirius/XM but will turn on All News 106.7 at certain points. "I'm still a news hound," she said.
The only time she said she has really missed the news desk has been the past week when the Atlanta Public School indictments were handed down. "I'm an education nut," she said. "I almost called [station manager] Marian [Pittman] and asked to come into work. But I realized they had more than enough good people there. They didn't need me. Leave it alone!"
Pearson is also mentoring a few choice TV broadcasters for free - "just to see if I could do it."
One downside to retirement, she noted: "I've gained a few pounds. I didn't realize how much I moved around while I was in the newsroom!"
"Which Way To The World"
9 p.m. Tuesday, April 9, PBA 30