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Radio & TV Talk

Posted: 2:05 p.m. Thursday, June 13, 2013

11 Alive seeking a new 'Commuter Dude'  

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John Gerard
Twitter pic
The original "Commuter Dude" John Gerard is moving into marketing for sister station WATL-TV.

By Rodney Ho

After four years, 11 Alive is seeking a new "Commuter Dude."

The title is currently bestowed upon John Gerard, who arrived in Atlanta in 2009 for what could be perceived as a one-note gimmicky job.

He said the original idea came from a brainstorming meeting with news director Ellen Crooke where they were thinking of creating a traffic "superhero," wearing a bright orange reflective vest, to help viewers out when a pothole gets too big, a storm drain sinks or a traffic signal goes wonky.

"Commuter Dude" has become an established part of the morning show, with Gerard stopping at spots all over metro Atlanta, hoping not to get run over by an 18 wheeler.

"You have to be hyper aware when you're on the side of the road. The neon-colored jacket helps," he said.

He has had to fight intransigent city governments to respond to problems but said they have become more responsive over time.

He gets satisfaction when he cajoles local governments to reimburse drivers whose vehicles were damaged by crater-like potholes or other hazards. He has also helped publicize dangerous intersections and pressured governments to add lights or add more striping to make areas safer.

"The fans are unlike anything I've experienced," Gerard said. "It's a hardcore fan base. It's great to help people."

Gerard was recently offered a job in marketing at sister station WATL-TV which gets him into management and gives him a chance to try something new. He said yes. "We're going to be re-branding the station," he said.

He won't miss the ridiculously early hours but he said he will miss the people who work with him from 4 to 7 a.m. "You form an incredible bond," he said.

For now, he'll stay on as Commuter Dude while the station seeks a replacement. You can apply for hte job with a 30-second video if you think you're up for the task. Here's  a promotion video.

In 2010, colleague Doug Richards wrote a nice ode to Commuter Dude on his Live Apartment Fire blog.

Rodney Ho

About Rodney Ho

I cover local radio and TV for both the print and online editions. I write a blog on the same topics.

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