Jocelyn Dorsey on the Origins of WSB's Family 2 Family

February 27, 2015
| by Editor |

Atlantans have been tuning in to Jocelyn Dorsey for more than 40 years. A familiar presence in many Atlanta living rooms, the broadcast news anchor has also become a familiar face in nonprofit circles. Through the Family 2 Family program she runs, she’s showcased the work of hundreds of nonprofit organizations on the nightly news and, more recently, in her weekly public affairs program People 2 People.

Below, read an excerpt from our member-exclusive interview with Dorsey from the just-released issue of Georgia Nonprofit NOW, as she provides a sneak peek into how Family 2 Family—WSB's 30+ year public service campaign—began.

 

GCN President and CEO, Karen Beavor: It sounds like a great marriage of aligned values. Talk to me about the Family 2 Family project and your show People 2 People. Tell us how that came about.

Jocelyn Dorsey: You want the truth?

Beavor: I want the truth.

Dorsey: It was a skillful plan from one of our general managers, Andy Fisher. Believe it or not, there was a time at WSB when we were not in favor. Our ratings were slipping, but it was interesting because you really got to see leadership at work. It was a tremendous lesson for me.

We were no. 3 at the time, and we were losing ground. So a new general manager, Andy Fisher, came in and wanted to figure out how to get WSB back to its former glory. There was this [rainmaking community service] project coming out of a station in Boston, and they were pitching us on it. They wanted exorbitant amounts of money to produce it, syndicate it, and give it to us so we could put our stamp on it and say we did community service. Andy took a look at it and said, “Why not do it in-house, make it local, and brand it ourselves?”

I’m fortunate enough to say that this has been probably the longest public service campaign in history— over 30 years.

But we also knew that if we didn’t buy it, someone else was going to. And because it was going to market in six months, we had six months to come out with our own thing. So Andy put us in a room and said, “We know the elements we’ve got to include. What are we going to call it, how are we going to brand it? You all figure it out.” We brainstormed with a bunch of managers, and came up with a brand that we thought would be broad enough to cover all our public service efforts.
 

That was Family 2 Family: an alliance of the station and our business partners to highlight community service efforts from nonprofits and others. People don’t always realize that this is a private partnership with commercial entities, and that there were five underwriters who put up big chunks of money to be part of it. What that gave us was something most public service departments don’t have: a budget.

Since we had this pool to draw from, we could begin to do community outreach immediately. We were fortunate to carve out time in the newscast to promote the campaign, which was unheard of in public service at the time. I think what drives a lot of this is the fact that Family 2 Family is in your face every other day. So everything just kind of accelerated. We kept talking to the underwriters to see what they wanted, and I’m fortunate enough to say that this has been probably the longest public service campaign in history— over 30 years

GCN members – read the entire interview as she shares her experiences as the first black news anchor in Atlanta, her close relationship with Coretta Scott King, and how good corporate citizens see tangible business rewards – in this issue of Georgia Nonprofit NOW.

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