My first job at a TV station was as a writer/producer in promotions at WDSU. Then, in 1988, the station was located in the French Quarter. The historic building stretched an entire block from Royal to Chartres streets. The front entrance sat in a beautiful courtyard, said to be the most photographed in the city.
WDSU’s history is full of firsts; the first in Louisiana to broadcast in color, the first to offer live, on-location coverage of events like Mardi Gras and the Allstate Sugar Bowl and the first to offer the nation an international broadcast.
WDSU was also the first to provide local extended coverage of important news including the first to cover a state-wide election, the first to provide extended coverage during a hurricane and the first to offer coverage from the floor of the Louisiana State Legislature.
WDSU’s original show, Midday, inspired the format of The Today Show.
WDSU’s original cooking segments with local chefs helped usher in the age of celebrity chefs, and its local fundraising efforts and original children’s programming helped shape the very foundation of what local television is meant to provide to its community.
“From the beginning, WDSU has been committed to serving the people of Southeast Louisiana.” said Joel Vilmenay, WDSU’s general manager.
“It’s this commitment that continues to shape our core values at WDSU. I am proud to be a part of a long legacy of innovators, creators and public servants.”
NOTE: My first job at a TV station was as a writer/producer in promotions at WDSU. Then, in 1988, the station was located in the French Quarter. The historic building stretched an entire block from Royal to Chartres streets. The front entrance sat in a beautiful courtyard, said to be the most photographed in the city.
The station kept its news archives on film in an area deep within the station. The room was subject to leaks when it rained so much of the old metal canisters that held the films of old news stories — some with sound, some without — were covered in plastic garbage bags. A film projector sat in the middle of the room, ready if you wanted to spool and see any of the old footage. It was said that in order to make space sometime in the 1960s, the station threw out an entire year of old news film that included footage of the Beatles playing in New Orleans. Legend had it that employees dumpster-dove to gather some of the film to take home for posterity.
I was a frequent visitor to the film room, fascinated by what I believed housed the city’s news history. At the time, another station was dominant in the news ratings, and I thought reminding viewers that WDSU was the state’s first TV station might be a worthwhile marketing campaign.