Meet the one-and only, Emmy-winning, crowd-pleasing, ever funny, never short-winded, trusted and beloved Sonny Dixon. A mild-mannered anchorman by day, Sonny Dixon trades in his buttoned-down persona when the occasion dictates, as it did one winter evening. Looking casually preppy in a navy blue long-sleeved polo shirt with his WTOC-TV logo, Dixon prowled the stage at the Alee Temple, talking a mile a minute in his trademark drawl, working harder than a circus barker to rouse the interest of his audience for the benefit of the Coastal Conservancy. Mostly he was hawking wholesome auction lots like fishing trips and golf getaways, but he did whatever it took to get folks to part with their hard-earned cash, at one point lavishing attention on a somewhat suggestive poster of less-than-totally-clad beauties promoting a Tybee Girls Weekend. If those ladies had been there in real life, they might well have blushed at the patter.
Whether he’s emceeing a benefit or speaking reverently at a military ceremony, Dixon customizes his spiel for each particular organization and never seems at a loss for words. The Coastal Conservancy crowd was a little slow to warm up that night. And it didn’t help that the auctioneer hadn’t received all the promotional material in advance.
It wasn’t the first time he had to wing it, and he was completely unfazed.
“I’ve been doing this so long that it’s not a matter of getting rid of the butterflies,” he says. “It’s a matter of getting them to fly in formation.”
In June, however, Dixon met his Waterloo at the Emmy awards.
“When I was nominated, I figured that was honor enough and that it would go no further, especially since the other two nominees were from Atlanta. I didn’t even want to go to the awards ceremony, but since we had station nominations for Best Newscast and Best Spot Announcement, I decided to go with our crowd and just have some fun.”
When they got to the anchor category, Dixon was busy checking University of Florida baseball scores on his phone. “My wife punched me and said, ‘Pay attention. This is your category.’” Dixon responded to his wife, “I told you, it’s just a question of which Atlanta person’s gonna win.” Right at that moment, the presenter said, “And the Emmy goes to … Sonny Dixon—WTOC—Savannah, Georgia!”
“I dropped the phone in the floor—and damn near lost consciousness!” Dixon explains. “I’d not roughed out a thing, having been totally convinced there was no way it was going to someone from Savannah over those stars from Atlanta. Somehow I came up with something to say on the way up front to accept it.”