Television news has fascinated Shauna Sanford for as long as she can remember. "As a kid, I would often watch TV newsbreaks and then afterwards pretend to do my own reports," she recalls. Little did she know that one day she would have an opportunity to cover two of the nation’s biggest news stories, Hurricane Katrina and Rita. “It’s an experience I will never forget,” says Shauna. “I was working at WWL TV in New Orleans at the time and not only did I have to live through what was happening but report on it as well. It was an humbling experience.”
She grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana and graduated from Howard University, in Washington, D.C, with a B.S. in Zoology. Shauna landed her first broadcasting job back in 1993 at WIBR-AM, an all-sports radio station in Baton Rouge. “Without any experience in television it was difficult for me to get my foot in the door,” she says. So when an on-air traffic reporter position serving several local radio stations opened up, Shauna jumped at the opportunity.
The young reporter continued to hone her skills, working for several stations including KQXL-FM and WJBO-AM. "I hosted two talk shows, became an anchor, even held a news director position," Shauna recounts. Her enthusiasm for the talk radio format earned her a "Victims and Citizens Against Crime" award, which honored her contributions in addressing topics of victims and families' rights. Shauna's versatile talents would also give her an edge in her next job.
The call that would bring a new dimension to Shauna's career came directly from the News Director of Baton Rouge CBS affiliate WAFB.-TV. The television medium would prove to be a perfect fit for the eager reporter, as many of her new assignments focused on Louisiana's colorful politics.
"I followed the Jim Brown trial, and the second round in court for former Governor Edwin Edwards," she describes. But it was Shauna's contribution to the coverage of suspected serial killer Derrick Todd Lee that would be recognized with an Associated Press Best Team Coverage Award. "Our individual strengths helped us cover the unfolding events," she notes, "and it was great being a part of that team." However, field reporting wasn't Shauna's only strength, as she also produced the station's noon news edition. "It's nice being on both sides of the camera; it gives you an appreciation for what it takes to put a newscast together,” emphasizes Shauna.
An unexpected phone call from the news director at WWL-TV led Shauna to her next assignment, as a reporter and weekend anchor in New Orleans. “I learned so much from everyone at Channel 4,” says Shauna. “It was a great place to further develop my broadcasting and writing skills.”
What difference has a decade made?
Due to severe flooding in Baton Rouge and the surrounding communities, the recording of “Black & The Blue,” which was to be the August episode of Louisiana Public Square, was cancelled. Instead we will be broadcasting an encore presentation of “Louisiana Post-Katrina: A Decade of Difference.” More information, including broadcast dates and times, is below.
“Louisiana Post-Katrina: A Decade of Difference”
Eleven years ago, Hurricane Katrina swept through Southeast Louisiana, triggering what would become the nation’s costliest disaster. Less than a month later, Hurricane Rita inundated Southwest Louisiana forever altering the landscape. The storms uprooted residents, while the rest of Louisiana and its neighboring states welcomed them with open arms.
What affect did the storms have on economic development along the I-10 corridor? Just over a decade later, how have public services changed? How prepared is Louisiana to handle hurricane evacuees? And how did the hurricanes change the demographics of the state?
This month Louisiana Public Square takes a look at where the state is now on an encore presentation of “Louisiana Post-Katrina: A Decade of Difference” airing Wednesday, August 17 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, August 21 at 11 a.m. on LPB HD.
The panelists are:
· Andy Kopplin, Office of New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu
· Paul Rainwater, Rainwater Consulting, LLC
· Stephanie Riegel, Greater Baton Rouge Business Report
· Nihal Shrinath, The Data Center
The program includes interviews with Jason El Koubi, One Acadiana; Chris Guilbeaux, Governor’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP); Kathy Kliebert, Secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals; Allison Plyer, Executive Director of the Data Center; John White, State Superintendent of Education; and Christopher Bohnstengel and “Byrdie” Lane, owners of Byrdie’s Gallery and Café in New Orleans.
LPB CEO, Beth Courtney, and Kim Hunter Reed,Ph.D., who served in the Blanco administration during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, moderate the discussion.
“Louisiana Post-Katrina: A Decade of Difference” will also air in New Orleans, on WLAE. It can also be heard on public radio stations WRKF in Baton Rouge; Red River Radio in Shreveport and Monroe; and WWNO in New Orleans. Check their station websites for schedule.
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