Atlanta News Anchor Started at USF

By BRITTANY LADIN, USF NEWS Posted Wed, 02/01/2017 - 15:54

Fred Blankenship '97 is a news anchor in one of the largest television markets in the country, a social media personality that loves to make his 30,000 fans smile with the catchphrase "Let's get it!", and an Edward R. Murrow Award winner for his work on a documentary about race relations.

A morning-show anchor at WSB-TV Atlanta, Blankenship got his start in journalism covering Dons athletics for the San Francisco Foghorn. Post-graduation, he took a job reporting sports and news behind the scenes for the San Francisco NBC-TV affiliate, and later joined KRON-TV as part of a team that won a prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award for the 1998 documentary series About Race. The series challenged racial stereotypes and myths with science and first-person interviews.

Confidence to pursue his dreams

In 1998, Blankenship landed his first on-air job in Kansas, where he often chased storms. He went on to San Diego, winning awards for stories on drug-addiction prevention and community outreach before moving to Atlanta.

He credits USF journalism Professor Michael Robertson for setting him on the path to a career in journalism.

“He is the reason why I thought I could do the job, he just gave me so much confidence," Blankenship says. "He was somebody who had been through the business who explained to me how to go about doing it. He was my number one influence in pursuing my dreams.”

In Atlanta, Blankenship has continued to highlight stories about community and race, interviewing Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) for “Return to Selma” — a 50th anniversary television special about the 1965 Bloody Sunday march. Lewis, a recent featured speaker at USF, is the last surviving leader of the march to Selma, Alabama that was led by Martin Luther King Jr. 

"Here to change all that"

Blankenship is also a prominent figure in his community. This year, he worked with Northside Hospital and Children’s Restoration Network on the “Stuff the Bus” campaign, where community members filled school buses with children's school supplies, which were delivered to underprivileged children.

“There are many kids in group homes and shelters throughout the metro-Atlanta area that don’t have the basic school supplies to go back to school and get that fresh start that they need,” says Blankenship, who promoted the campaign on the morning show and on his social media channels. “We are here to change all that.”