Dude

John Gerard, WXIA

When I started working at WXIA, I learned I’d be working alongside a guy called “Commuter Dude.”  That would be his on-air name.  He’d cover viewer gripes about roads and such.  He’d wear a reflective vest on camera.

“Sounds kitschy,” I thought.  As a supervisor told me about the Commuter Dude, I fought mightily to suppress a skeptically raised eyebrow.

Now I’m a fan.   When the Commuter Dude’s stuff appears on my TV set, I’ll stop and pay attention.

I’m especially a fan of this as an interesting alternative to the drumbeat of mayhem and breaking “news” that remains the common currency of local TV.  Maybe the Commuter Dude isn’t covering an issue in my neighborhood.  But whatever its location, I can relate.  I can’t relate to garden-variety fires and traffic wrecks because they all sound and look the same.

The Commuter Dude is a guy named John Gerard.  Gerard is a low-key, self-effacing guy to whom the word “dude” is a natural description (not in the classic Western sense, but in the “hey dude” 2000s sense).  Gerard mostly shoots his own video on an eggplant-cam.  He has an abundance of material to cherrypick from his inbox / tip jar.

But his job isn’t easy.  Covering hiccups in signage, traffic lights, traffic engineering and asphalt can turn quickly into one-note storytelling.  Gerard strives mightily to avoid that, and succeeds more often than not.

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Gerard does so by exploiting characters who gripe about “craters,” as he typically calls potholes.  This guy was amusing because he referred to watching WXIA during the “dark ages” of weatherman Johnny Beckman.  (Many would argue that those free-spending years were actually an age of enlightenment, but I’m not going to quibble…)

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This woman was amusing because she kept referring to Gerard as the “computer dude.”

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And in this piece, Gerard actually went to court with a motorist who’d been ticketed for disregarding a “no left turn” sign that had disappeared from an intersection.  The court threw out the case.  Gotta like any TV news goon who actually helps right a wrong.  Gerard does this stuff all the time.

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Gerard’s involvement in fixing trouble spots results in a lot of first-person reporting and writing.  This can be an awkward device.  It would be obnoxious in a more ego-driven personality.  Gerard isn’t much of a chest-thumper, thankfully.

Which is part of the reason why I’m a fan.

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About live apt fire

Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

12 thoughts on “Dude

  1. Jim

    I have to tell you, when he comes on, you’re right, I do stop and watch. It’s entertaining, informative, and useful.

    What’s amazing is he gets this done without a “tough questions” mic flag!

    What I think WXIA is losing sight of though, is that we still need some hard news in there, and it seems to be a little lacking lately. I DVR WSB and WXIA (morning shows) every day, and there are always a couple of “real” news items that were not on WXIA.

    Reply
  2. John Gerard

    Thank you very much for the kind words Doug. Coming from someone with your abilities and background, it means a lot.

    Reply
    1. live apt fire Post author

      Formed the ‘pothole patrol’ in ’09, eh? That’s when WXIA hired the Dude.

      Btw, does the PP consist of anything more than a graphic and some copy? As opposed to, say, a dude covering that kind of thing more or less nonstop.

      Reply
  3. wgcler

    gee, doug we thought you paid better attention. You must have missed Harry’s stories this week.

    And we started it last year – 2008. Sorry we lost track of time.

    Tell JG to chill and stop calling our newsroom saying we’re copying him.

    Reply
  4. Element

    GFX and copy? Where?

    http://www.cbsatlanta.com/video/22358494/

    http://www.cbsatlanta.com/video/22369630/

    But you’re right. Your dude is at it all the time. He should be good at it. Maybe that’s why one might expect some level of storytelling or better than novice production value. I’m not trashing your guy. And I have no idea who started first. But I would like to see him package a much more polished product, being surrounded by the historically best photographic staff in town. And please save the OMB excuse because Julie Wolfe does it and better than most any other reporter, OMB or otherwise, in town.

    Reply
  5. gilgirl

    Element

    You’re right on target. One might think that a station that bases its entire promotion around the dude and his segment might have some standards of quality.

    Writing
    Shooting
    Delivery

    all weak,

    Seems like a nice guy but a production value worthy of market 65 or so.

    Reply

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