By Maria Saporta
Long time Atlanta observer Jeff Dickerson is taking a leave from the popular weekly television show — the Georgia Gang.
Dickerson, who has been on Fox Five’s Georgia Gang for more than two decades, taped his last show 10 days ago. The official word is that he’s taking a leave of absence. But it is an open question about when or if he’ll be back on the show.
Dickerson had been an editorial writer and journalist with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution until 11 years ago when entered the public affairs world and founded his own crisis communications business.
He continued to dabble in journalism, writing columns in the Atlanta Business Chronicle and the Atlanta Tribune as well as providing commentary on the Georgia Gang.
But often he would find that his clients were in the middle of a news firestorm. His clients have included MARTA, the Atlanta Botanical Garden during its push to build a new park garage in Piedmont Park, the Atlanta Public Schools, the DeKalb County Schools and a host of others who needed strategic advice on how to handle dicey situations.
When the Georgia Gang would be broadcast Sunday mornings at 8:30 on WAGA, Dickerson often had to recuse himself from the conversation or preface his comments with a disclaimer that so-and-so was a client.
“With my work with the Atlanta Public Schools, the Atlanta Education Fund, DeKalb County schools and other clients, the conflicts just became untenable for me,” Dickerson told me Tuesday morning. “At this point I’m not sure if or when I’ll be coming back.”
The Georgia Gang was Dickerson’s last link to his journalistic past. He already had given up his ABC and Atlanta Tribune columns.
“It feels good,” Dickerson said about being totally out of the journalism world.
But Dickerson’s departure from the Georgia Gang is a major loss for the show, which is hosted by conservative pundit Dick Williams, editor of the Dunwoody Crier. The other regular panelists are Phil Kent, a public relations executive and Republican operative, and Alexis Scott, publisher of the Atlanta Daily World and the ultra liberal voice on the Georgia Gang.
Dickerson, who sat in between Kent and Scott, often took a moderate tone — sometimes agreeing with those on his right or Scott on his left. Dickerson also provided a insiders look on what was really going on behind the scenes, not only in Atlanta and DeKalb but throughout the region and the state.
He will be missed.