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Posted: 5:00 a.m. Friday, Oct. 25, 2013

A familiar face returns to 'Georgia Traveler' on GPB 

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PHil Proctor Dave Zelski
Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com
Phil Proctor returns to the fold at "Georgia Traveler" after a multi-year break. He's with producer and host David Zelski (right.)

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Phil at Whirlyball photo
Phil Proctor rejoins "Georgia Traveler," which returns on GPB Oct. 27 at 7 p.m.

By Rodney Ho

I'm on vacation from Oct. 12 to 27 but I've attempted to populate this blog with at least some content while I'm gone. If you have any breaking news in the TV/radio arena, my colleague Jennifer Brett will be covering over at the AJC Buzz site and you can email her at jbrett@ajc.com. 

GPB's most popular original local program "Georgia Traveler" brings back a once familiar face for its seventh season: videographer Phil Proctor.

Dave Zelski began hosting the show in 2005 and Proctor was such a larger-than-life presence, Zelski gave him a shot in front of the camera. Over three years, they criss-crossed the state, with Proctor devouring Vidalia onions at an eating contest and seven chili dogs at Jimmie's in Albany.

But in 2008, GPB went through a round of recession-related layoffs. Proctor lost his job. The show continued without him but the two remained close friends, seeing each frequently off camera. Fans would frequently ask Zelski about  Proctor.

Two years later, doctors found tonsil cancer in Proctor's throat. The former football defensive linesman fought off the cancer with a mix of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and homeopathic medicine. It was no picnic. At one point, he couldn't eat or drink anything and had to have a tube put through his nose. Over the course of treatment in 2011, he lost 50 pounds. The good news: he has remained cancer free.

Earlier this year, GPB was able to dig up enough money to bring Proctor back as a freelancer to re-join "Georgia Traveler," which also includes Christine von Blokland and Ashley Mengwasser.

"He's larger than life," Zelski said. "He lights up the room."

I visited the quartet at WhirleyBall in Roswell, where they taped a promo with Proctor on his first day back in the fold in nearly five years. "It's like we didn't miss a beat," Zelski said during a break in taping, where they goofed around in bumper-style carts throwing softball-sized whiffle balls around with a Jai Alai-style scoop.

Proctor is a 30-year media veteran, spending nearly 18 years at Turner Broadcasting mostly covering sports, including World Championship Wrestling. He came to GPB in 2000, handling a variety of duties, including editing and videography, plus sideline reporting for high school football and basketball.

Zelski found a place for Proctor on "Georgia Traveler," where Proctor's embrace of the state's many culinary delights came to fore. "I love to eat," Proctor said. "I love being in the kitchen." He said he simply is himself on camera, a bit goofy, a bit exuberant, plenty fun.

"David and I have a nice chemistry," Proctor said. "I'm older. He's younger. I'm black. He's white. He's polished. I'm off the charts. We play off each other well."

Proctor is grateful to be alive and able to work with Zelski again. "My faith plays a bit part of who I am," he said. "God gave me every talent and ability I have. I'm trying to do my best with what I have. This is the coolest job anybody can ever have."

TV preview

"Georgia Traveler," 7 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 27, GPB

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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