Has it really been 30 years?
Three decades since the sweetheart of local TV rolled into the Channel 5 newsroom as a 22-year-old ingenue?
“I started off as the youngest person in the newsroom and now literally, some of them could be my kids,” says Kelley Dunn, 52, with the throaty giggle that has endeared her to two generations of local viewers at the perennially top-rated station.
On Wednesday February 10, WPTV-TV will honor Dunn’s longevity with a look back at her — and the station’s — past, while she begins to plan the next stage of her life. She plans to retire “definitely within the next five years.”
A retrospective of Dunn’s 30-year career is likely to encompass most of the county’s recent history as well as a parade of hairstyles.
“There were some unfortunate bangs in there,” she says.
The news anchor who grew up in Daytona Beach has spent her entire broadcasting career just down I-95 at one station, which is extraordinary in a business where anchors sometimes don’t bother unpacking their bags. But those behind Channel 5’s news desk seem to stick. Jim Sackett, Dunn’s former co-anchor, worked at the station for 34 years.
Since 2011, she’s been paired with fellow anchor Michael Williams.
“I’m so lucky to have been able to build a career and a life in the same place,” said Dunn last week, taking a break from posting old photos and videos on her Facebook page. (Check it out to see her encounter with a young George Clooney.)
Viewers tuned in as the relatable Dunn held every anchor job there was at the station. She was the substitute daughter they rejoiced with as she married and whom they worried about as she grew through two pregnancies on air. She was the friend and fellow young mother grappling with career and family.
Today, with both those babies in college, she and husband, John Perez, are empty nesters planning the next stage of their lives which is likely to take them north, perhaps to western North Carolina sometime in the next few years.
“My motto has always been to be yourself and be authentic. I hope that’s why people have enjoyed having me come into their homes every day,” Dunn says. “I never take that for granted.”
SIX THINGS: KELLEY DUNN
Think you know Kelley Dunn after watching her for 30 years? Here are six things you might not know:
1. When she does a news promo with fellow anchor Michael Williams, she’s standing on a box because Williams is a foot taller than the 5’3” Dunn.
2. Vero Beach is one of her favorite places in Florida.
3. She can still do cartwheels and the splits, courtesy of youthful gymnastics classes.
4. She puts on make-up and does her hair even before going grocery shopping because “she doesn’t want to disappoint people that much.”
5. She’s a fifth-generation Floridian and daughter of the late Edgar Dunn, a long-time Democratic state senator from Daytona Beach. In 1986, her father narrowly lost the Florida attorney general’s election to Bob Butterworth.
6. She’s a homebody and neat freak whose nickname is Martha, Jr., as in Martha Stewart. If she wasn’t a news broadcaster, she’d be an interior designer or professional organizer. She says, “If I had to be quarantined in my house for a month, I’d be ecstatic.”