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.”
After leaving the business for a short time to work with the Recovery School District, Shauna was happy to return to television news as the co-anchor of Louisiana: The State We’re In for Louisiana Public Broadcasting.
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 concerns are on citizens’ minds as they go to the polls this fall?
The presidential election may be getting all of the attention, but Louisiana residents will be making several important decisions at the ballot box in November. The U.S. Senate seat left up for grabs by retiring Sen. David Vitter has drawn a field of 24 candidates. Louisianians in the south- and northwest parts of the state will also be voting on congressmen. So, what national concerns are on citizens’ minds as they go to the polls this fall? What statewide issues should be on the mind of Louisiana’s next Congressional leaders? Louisiana Public Square looks for answers on “Election 2016” Wednesday, October 26 at 7p.m. (Taping Tuesday, October 25)
• Elizabeth Crisp / The Advocate
• Greg Hilburn / Gannett Newspapers
• Martin Johnson, Ph.D. / LSU Manship School of Mass Communication
• Albert Samuels, Ph.D. / Mandela School of Public Policy, Southern University
• Patricia Smith / Guest Moderator / College of Government and Social Sciences, Southern University
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