Louisiana: The State We’re In, Louisiana's only statewide news magazine and one of the longest running television programs in the nation, is in its 38th season on the air. The program currently airs Fridays at 7PM and Sundays at 4:30PM on the six-station LPB network that includes stations in Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe and Shreveport. It also airs on LPB’s sister station WLAE-TV32 in New Orleans on Fridays at 7PM.
Award-winning journalists Charlie Whinham and Shauna Sanford anchor and produce the show which combines in-depth coverage of about the important issues in the state along with expert analysis of those issues. That includes continuing coverage of stories like the lasting effect of the BP oil spill on Louisiana’s coastline, the Bayou Corne sinkhole and the ongoing court battles over education initiatives supported by the Jindal Administration.
Since its inception in 1976 with current LPB President Beth Courtney anchoring the show, the program has been a leader in coverage of the Louisiana Legislature. Its goal has always been to explain how legislation will affect the lives of the people of the state. That coverage expands during the legislative session to include nightly updates on the day’s events at the session on Capitol Beat and a wrap up of the week’s events on the Friday State We’re In broadcast that features live interviews with lawmakers and experts on legislation.
The program also has lighthearted features on the people and places that make Louisiana so unique. For example, Whinham’s Lost Louisiana: What’s In A Name series explored important issues like how the village of Mowatta and towns like Dry Prong and Zwolle got their names.
The newest addition to the show is Prescription for Health which features Dr. Rani Whitfield discussing important health issues including how to prevent cancer, heart problems and strokes. The segments air the first Friday of every month.
Emmy award winning broadcaster Charlie Whinham joined Louisiana Public Broadcasting in the fall of 2002. In addition to his duties with Louisiana: The State We’re In, Whinham has produced numerous programs for LPB including, Lost Louisiana: Places of Worship, What’s in a Name?, Castle on the Hill: Louisiana’s Old State Capitol, Louisiana Baseball Stories and Louisiana World War II Stories.
The Suncoast Chapter of the National Television Arts and Sciences recognized Whinham in 2010 with an Emmy for Lost Louisiana: Places of Worship. Two years earlier Whinham traveled to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to accept the Distinguished Reporting Award from the Military Reporters and Editors Association for Louisiana World War II Stories.
The University of Kentucky graduate began his broadcasting career in 1987 as a radio news director in Campbellsville, KY, and later moved to nearby Bowling Green as a news reporter for WBKO-TV. Whinham would branch out to sportscasting and served as sports director for WPBN-TV in Traverse City, MI, and then to WBAY-TV in Green Bay, WI, as a sports reporter and anchor. During his time in Green Bay, Whinham filed a number of stories for ESPN.
Since the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, Whinham along with co-anchor Shauna Sanford have served as contributing correspondents and commentators for the PBS NewsHour. LPB’s continuing GulfWatch coverage of the oil spill aftermath can be found at www.GulfWatch.org.
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 is happy to be returning 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.”
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