Longtime GPB producer, writer Gerald Bryant dies at 69

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Gerald Bryant, a producer and writer for Georgia Public Broadcasting for nearly 25 years, died Sunday, his 69th birthday, after battling cancer.

Bryant began his tenure at the Atlanta network in 1984 as managing editor, executive producer and anchor of Lawmakers, which covered legislative news from the state capital. He went on to host the station’s popular Georgia Traveler travelogue series.

“For years, Gerald was the epicenter of everything creative at GPB,” said David Zelski, e.p. and co-host of Georgia Traveler. “He didn’t have that booming radio/TV voice, but his delivery was simple, flawless and most of all real.”

Zelski recalled when he was just starting his own reporting career in 2000 by trying to sound more like anchor Tom Brokaw. “Needless to say, it wasn’t working for me,” Zelski said. “I clearly remember Gerald telling me, ‘Just be yourself and within a year or two, you’ll know who you are as a reporter and it will show in your work.’”

Zelski’s fondest memories involve Bryant’s knack for storytelling. “At least once a day, Gerald had the entire newsroom bellied over in laughter,” he said.

He retired from GPB in 2007.

He was born in 1946 in Louisville, Ky., to Cleston and Lelia Bryant. He was a graduate of the University of Louisville.

Bryant started his career in commercial broadcasting, working for NBC, CBS and ABC local affiliates as well as Turner Broadcasting. His professional honors include an Edward R. Murrow Award and 13 Emmys.

Surviving is his wife, Sharon Sweet Bryant, of Winder, Ga.; a daughter, Erin Bryant Odani, and her husband Rory, Atlanta; his parents, Winder; and a sister, Deana James, and her husband Leonard, South Bend, Ind.

A memorial service is set for Saturday at Galilee Christian Church in Jefferson, Ga., where Bryant was an active member.

Memorial donations may be sent to the Christian relief organization Life Outreach International, P.O. Box 982000, Fort Worth, TX 76182-8000.