New Orleans broadcasting legends discuss past, present and future of TV news
(New Orleans) — Four legendary figures in New Orleans television broadcasting will reunite onstage at Loyola University on Tuesday, October 12, at 7:30 p.m. in Nunemaker Auditorium on Loyola’s main campus, 6363 St. Charles Ave. WDSU-TV’s first three news directors, Bill Monroe, John Corporon and Ed Planer, and the station’s founder, Edgar B. Stern Jr., will reflect on the past, present and future of broadcast journalism, including its early roots in New Orleans, in a panel discussion titled “Founding Fathers: The Past, Present & Future of TV News.” The event is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception on the fourth floor of the Loyola University Communications/Music Complex.
The event is organized by the Loyola University Department of Communications and the Press Club of New Orleans. It is co-sponsored by the Loyola student chapters of the Radio-Television News Directors Association and Society of Professional Journalists. The panel discussion will be moderated by WDSU-TV news anchor Norman Robinson.
As station owner and founder, Edgar B. Stern Jr. helped build WDSU-TV, the first television station in Louisiana. Stern’s leadership and vision led WDSU to become the dominant station in New Orleans broadcasting, beginning in 1948 when it signed on the air. In a 1998 article, The Times-Picayune explained: “Owner Edgar Stern Jr…. set out to make WDSU the national abbreviation for broadcast excellence, no matter the cost.”
Stern left New Orleans shortly after selling WDSU-TV to out of town owners in 1972.
Bill Monroe, the first news director of WDSU-TV, built the station’s news department, introducing many innovations to the early television audience, including broadcast editorials (which during his tenure in the 1950s covered controversial topics, including school desegregation). Monroe later went on to serve as Washington bureau chief for NBC News (where he earned a George Foster Peabody award), and gained fame as moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Monroe was succeeded as news director in 1961 by John Corporon, who began his career as a reporter for WDSU’s fledgling Washington bureau. Later as news director and editorialist, Corporon helped lead the fight against the proposed Riverfront Expressway, which many believed would have destroyed the historic ambience of New Orleans’ French Quarter. Corporon left WDSU in 1966 for the position of news director at WPIX-TV in New York.
Longtime WDSU staffer Ed Planer became news director in 1966. As a WDSU reporter, Planer covered state and local politics as well as the civil rights struggle in the south. Additionally, in his broadcast editorials, Planer fought District Attorney Jim Garrison’s investigation of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. After leaving WDSU, Planer worked as news director of the NBC-owned station in Chicago, later becoming a NBC News vice president, supervising network news coverage.
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