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Brenda Wood's final day on 11Alive: 'Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing.'

This was posted on Thursday, February 8, 2017 by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Brenda Wood wore all white on her last day at 11Alive.

She wanted  her clothing to convey brightness and hope for a day that ended up being the type of farewell most any long-time anchor dreams of having. She was able to leave on her own terms and close her time on Atlanta TV surrounded by friends she cared about.

Half of her final broadcast at 6 p.m. Wednesday night was focused solely on her. She got to co-anchor one more time with Jeff Hullinger, who was her co-anchor for a time at WAGA in the 1990s. 11Alive reporter Matt Pearl, who said he was inspired by her moral strength and purpose, aired a touching review of her time at WXIA. Several of her colleagues offered their best wishes, from Melissa Long to Doug Richards to Chris HolcombAmanda Davis, now mornings at CBS46, provided kind words. "My sister in the movement!" Davis said on air. Former Atlanta mayor and U.N. ambassador Andrew Young and playwright Kenny Leon also offered taped testimonials.

The party after the broadcast featured dozens of invited colleagues from Wood's life. Fred Kalil, now at CBS46, returned to his old haunt. Former WSB-TV legend Monica Pearson was there. Others came by to wish her well including her two daughters Kristen Burke and Kandis Jackson, Paul Ossmann (former Fox 5, also at CBS46), Karyn Greer (formerly 11Alive, now CBS46), Kevin Rowson (now at the FBI), Russ Spencer (WAGA), Jaye Watson (who just left two weeks earlier) and former WAGA news director and Atlanta Press Club Hall of Famer  Budd McEntee .

She has been the only anchor in town to do commentaries every day. Here is her final Last Word:

"It's been privilege covering history as it unfolded, telling the stories from people of all walks of life, people who are compassionate and courageous, bold and wise and generous. Stories of visionaries and outliers, people who have inspired and grown and stretched me into a better person. I leave with a mental vault full of incredible encounters and unforgettable experiences. I hope that I was able to make someone else's life better in return. This is a tough business. I owe my longevity to viewers who have watched me over the decades from Huntsville to Nashville to Memphis to Atlanta. All those viewers, all these years. That's a blessing and I'm overwhelmed by your many kind messages and well wishes and honors from city and county and state leaders as I start a new chapter. Thank you. A huge thank you to all my coworkers, smart, dedicated, curious, creative professionals who have taught me so much.

I will miss you. All of this has given me wings to carve a new path, to climb new mountains, to pursue creative ventures outside of news. So I'll be busy doing that though I am not going anywhere. I am staying right here in the ATL. Then there's my family which is the center of my world and fueled me every single day to do my job. I'll be spending more time with them including my precious and only grandchild Duke [a dog]. As Oscar Wilde once said, 'Live, live the wonderful life that is in you. Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing. I plan to do just that. It's been quite a ride for which I am eternally grateful. And now it's on to the new. Time for me to say, 'Brenda.. out!' "

She then air kissed the crowd, giving an extra long hug to her co-host Jeff Hullinger. She then wished her replacement Shiba Russell well. Holcomb gave her huge flowers as everyone applauded her as the telecast ended.

And here's Jon Shirek's touching history of her broadcast career:

Here are a couple of Facebook Live videos I did while Wood was being feted:

I interviewed several people but I've had such a long day, I didn't have time to post them. I'll update this with a few quotes on Friday. For now, here are some photos.

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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.