WWL>Topics>>5-12 1:10pm Open Mind: Open Book w/Dennis Woltering

5-12 1:10pm Open Mind: Open Book w/Dennis Woltering

May 12, 2014|

Angela Hill talks with WWLTV Anchor Dennis Woltering about his life and career in this edition of Open Book with Angela.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

While happy Monday everyone and it is a glorious one and I hope all you wonderful mothers out there had a great one you deserve it should be 365 days here. But that we honor you won it's important. I love our day today I love or three shows and I especially loved the first one but I'm gonna tell you about the second third first. Our second show is going to be on a subject. That is all too prevalent in this area and in this country it's autism and we have three incredible parents. We're going to explain exactly what their life is with an autistic child. And we're going to have a specialists telling us what this is and -- now one out of a least 86 children. We'll be born with it. Our third show equally interesting. It's called concierge medicine. And it is doctors who are deciding. To have their own practices. But you pay an extra three. And you had your insurance. But you can call them 24 cents. You can get in that day if you need to -- -- it's -- very interesting concept it's kind of starting to sweep. America you'll wanna hear that but we're gonna start with something that is truly. Truly big in my heart. Dennis Walter -- is the anchorman anchorman. Smart insightful. Prepared in control. But he's also reporter who set standards decades ago for thoughtful and comprehensive reporting. To watch him weave a story no matter how complicated. Into a compelling message remembered long after it hired. Has been a lesson in how reporting should be done for all of us who worked with him. But the hallmark of Dennis whose work has been his innate insight and sensitivity. Into the human condition. Whether it be covering the horrors of a plane crash or the aftermath of Katrina. Or the pain of so many victims taken advantage of while trying to rebuild their lines. For forty years Dennis has been fearless and his commitment to getting the story and beyond report reproach. In his belief in fairness. Lucky for New Orleans that thirty of those forty years were spent here. -- -- not only found the best news but the best life. It is here Dennis and his wife Carol have raised two wonderful daughters. And now enjoy two granddaughters. Who are growing up loving all the things that captured Genesis heart. Dennis is made an imprint in television news that will never be lost even as the profession -- And he has impacted the lives of those he has worked well. Knowing Dennis Walter -- was on the job gave all of us at channel four confidence. But the journalistic standards set so long ago still lived. The good news is Dennis may be stepping away from the anchor desk. But will still be part of our lives and today we will find out what he dreams will be the next chapter of his line. Am I thrilled and happy. A a semi real happy. And of the of literacy is the it's all downhill from an -- and on and now you know from the -- can you really do. I think a lot of people watched last week as the newsroom in the station. Lovingly -- and good -- -- -- centers that are. As -- -- and you're going to be here for the rest of the -- yes it's but were all very curious and and very happy for you've earned it. You've -- it you've earned it but let's talk about what -- juicy as the next year. Well that's a -- and I'm working on actually I mean I have a lot of ideas and one of a wanna continue doing journalism one -- other I'm interest in doing documentaries. A sort of long -- reporting and being more personally involved in the whole product shooting editing writing and producing the whole thing. And I mean there's so many stories that I feel. We're not able to tell because of the way journalism is done and because of the you know look. The marketplace the commercial marketplace everything has to be pretty quick and -- -- It has to be. Sort of a fast job he'd have to be quickly has to be quickly done and I think that the some stories take longer to tell -- longer to -- Research and spent timeless -- spent time to to really developed story. -- and and a toilet to do I -- Last year I did a story about some people who were impacted by the BP oil spill they were. They were wrong so little vessels cleaning up via cleaning up the oil. And they have that that. That chemicals they use to disperse to dispersant to get rid of the oil and that chemical. Affected some of these fools. And one of the people I interviewed said the a woven from Australia reporter from Australia came here and spent a week. In his home with him. To sort of get a sense of what's going on in their lives and and really understand how they have been affected by that by the spill. And that's the kind of thing that I think I think that's really -- -- -- -- usual rates on some also owns impacted. Amid that's the kind of thing our -- to go and really spend time learning about the story before I boarded and reporter. You know you're such a beautiful writer and and I mean not everybody is and you more and that yet you want to we've known knew everyone has known him because you do some beautiful things on FaceBook as well. A still photographer world class I mean people immediately -- -- always gonna do photography and he's gonna have shows which should. But you're talking about video. I'm talking about video I am interest in photography in there there are some things elected do. With like photography but I'm not sure exactly what. I like to shoot pictures of people. And it's it's interesting some some friends of one who were also photographers are more interest in landscape -- while life for. Buildings in the architecture that sort of thing. For me he -- to shoot people and faces and a despondent you know phenomenal some of the different. Looks like getting. Different kind of shots like India. And we have got gotten to watch the growth of file your two girls threw an. In those faces grow up to great young women and now -- two girl you know. Granddaughters are amazing and if it become the best closers in the world telling. And they also ought to put their hands up and part of their face because it. It gets to read too much for them sometimes even for them on children and its camera. Ever music comes on by the way they start dancing because they know like now like to take shots of them dancing in it and they loved them so it's become sort of ritual. I'm gonna tell the secret on yet he does which I think is one of the most thoughtful gifts and but he could give. He does a calendar of each child. It's a sensible durable product photos via -- each child's year -- and then gives it to them for Christmas it's. So that from one until there. From an -- until a couple of. Until who knows when yeah wouldn't you love that wouldn't you love to have a book of your life in pictures. Taken by a grandfather. When -- wanted to provide that yeah it's kind of fun. Shall they -- they like it to they go through books you know from earlier years and all of this is me when I was one thought that and -- I'm sick and they are hilarious annoyed that they are just unbelievable. You you -- times lived during an incredible era in television news at an incredible television station. Not in an incredible ten mountain and just some of your reflections on how lucky -- them. Oh well number one to be able to live in the city I mean beaten. You know I came here from -- North Dakota the first on. And really a you know look back I didn't enjoy my experience of four it was much as I should have because I was afraid I was going to be stranded there the rose the most life. And of it was a it was a wonderful place but this is I mean this is it's like marijuana oh my god it's unbelievable. And you know they're just so much going on here that that we really love my wife and I really low end of the music the food do. The people it's just a great city and when we left on what Philadelphia. You know within six months were -- become. So we're glad to have a chance to and -- and you went to Philadelphia because it was an opportunity it was an opportunity was a it was the station was owned by CBS. So it felt it would be the best of mobile worlds you know sort of working for a network. But not traveling all the time. However I discovered that the networks don't really care that's the issue said the approach. So wasn't that wasn't the votes of both worlds. Okay we're gonna take a break we're gonna come back with Dennis faltering and talk about some of his reflections on the incredible news he has covered here stay with this financial under the anyway. Dennis altering our very special guest today talking about a forty year career for the thirty years here in New Orleans. You were here ten years or roughly ten years and then you went to Philadelphia. Did that for awhile and and came back and came back because it was give me ha ha ha ha. At that threat -- -- so it was such a relief to come back home I mean we really yeah we're happy to get back to New Orleans. We missed so much we missed the people and and come back to you know channel four was awesome natural. And I remember clearly. The meeting -- duke was in news director at the time and we were in need of a local anchor. And and what about calling. For a cook and it was like 48 hours later but he's going to come and it was that quick but it was the right. Let's talk about you'd you'd spent. The the majority of your professional life in a town that I've always said was one of the best news towns in America period. Talk about some of the ones that really moved -- Some of the stories will you mentioned the pan am. Crash. I mean I will never forget that and that was just such horrifying thing. It was so -- pouring down stormy afternoon and we we raced out to Kenner when we heard about this and we're in the neighborhood and it was so different from the way these kinds of things are handled now because. Police did not cordoned off the area we were right in the crash scene we were right you know there were. There were. Parts of the plane and people -- victims. Right around -- and not far from where we are doing like reporting. And it was just unbelievable I mean there's horrible smells them. And but on the other and we had great access to people I mean. Actually Aaron Broussard was the mayor of -- back then and he was with -- doing a lot of or -- reporting. And it it was just horrifying and then. 20/20 five years later there was a little girl who was do you remember the story about the little rule they found two year old. In the crash scene. And -- his mother and her sister were killed were home. She was under counties under a mattress and leave and they found her and this was for the rescuers for the people in doing recovery at the crash site this was just a great moment because the council life in this horrible scene. And anyway 25 years after the crash I had the opportunity to talk to her to interview -- into the story about -- Questions. It was just the it was one of my favorite stories species that she's a wonderful young woman now she's marriages of child you know of sort of kept in touch with her. And I -- -- remember it was it was it moved me so much that and we also brought her together with with a guy who found her actually. And he has now died but. And it was such a moment for me that I was emotional. That tears in my -- And so she was telling me later friends -- virtues colonial a few at the time for -- -- how was it the did you fly. She said no but mr. -- the. The three that's the beauty in tennis you really if you know -- we will hunt and when you've lived long enough and you've had life experiences. You can feel those things and crown. But that was a that was -- story Aurilia. And that was a huge story. And then moved to police strike I mean yes is number the police -- oh my gosh. Unbelievable and you know we couldn't believe it was happening when it was happening and cutting off of Mardi Gras and you know contentiousness. And a Dutch Mario really is the one who pulled it together it was a very tough strong mayor and he he made things happen. But remember we had almost negotiations live on the year we have the -- of the the police the the union people who were striking it you know and he held secret locations someplace. We're we're talking to us on our live show we knew where it was but that we're keeping it secret and and the mayor on the other side. So it was if it's sort of a wild scene it was a great moment for those. The days before the technology that we have today that we don't even think about anymore -- to split the screen was a big deal -- -- to have. To have the mayor and then have. The union. On the same screen talking at the same time that I guess it's an inside thing but I remember how impressed I was. But somebody was not telling the truth yes and so you could hear it does not see it -- wasn't he said she said they're saying it. Yeah well anyway enough this. You. You were such a part of the Katrina coverage he and I remember. Vividly. In Baton Rouge looking up on the screen and seeing you standing. In the quarter and it was like you were on the moon you it was so just. Yeah that was. There was really. Bizarre to come back here and see no lights a rumor -- a -- in Algiers a remember going over the Crescent City connection. To go to my house and no lights anymore I mean -- night driving over that urgency all these lights. But the back then no lights January it was just the most bizarre thing and in the French Quarter at night. The only place was that one little bar. That was open and they had candles but you you walked on the street portal blackness. And you know -- walked on Bourbon Street and a configure the famous bar but. I heard voices if we got closer and closer you see the candlelight their people in this bar where there was the only place that was opened stayed open through the whole thing. But it was just. It was it was hard to comprehend actually did you take a lot of pictures personal pictures I really didn't take as many as they should it took some -- non Muslims and then you've got to go to Europe to see how. Yeah we went to the Netherlands and I got to go there twice actually we went once. On our own to talk to some of the experts over there. About their flood protection and that kind of thing and how they -- in a storm in 1953. That was their Katrina. And it made them realize that they had to be more proactive. In protecting their low lands and their lol that's are quite extensive more than 60% of the population lives below -- local. So they have a big issues that they don't have hurricanes but they have they do have big storms. And they hit and they have a lot of -- a lot of land to protect. And they have all kinds of -- ways of keeping the water away and they work with the water a lot more than we do. And one thing they do is they nurture the soil to see. The -- this oil in the seat. To keep -- a certain level salute the when the waves hit that they don't cause as much damage. They're -- they're just proactive in so many different way and so that was released instructor that I went over there wants who went over there -- on our own to have to learn about it. And then the central -- took a delegation over there we went with them. Now it was very important. I think at that time for New Orleans to see we're not alone this -- somebody's been through what we can learn from them and we're gonna survive yeah. Very very important. And the Army Corps of Engineers who went over there and and learn some things and some of the people I've -- over there have been critical of some of it. So things -- record did but they were working together actually council of the facilities that built. Stay with this we're gonna continue our top with Dennis faltering right after the -- Our lucky day we have Dennis Walter hang -- who made the announcement last week that he will be. Leaving the anchor desk not retiring but there -- other wonderful things and isn't it great to be at this point of life when you have some choices. The it is of I'm looking forward to and I think. We spent a couple months just the driving around on places we like to see -- I've never actually been Boston policy Austin beautiful. And you know just having fun for a couple months in the guests who worked for them. -- -- right and you know what I I really believe that. When you are open to things things coming yes and you are now going to be opened by winning not that there is any regret it all about one minute -- sent. And in any job -- and television but it is very constricting mean you are always going to be on the. That's right that's right there isn't the -- that schedule you have to keep and there sometimes the job gets in the way of things you wanted that you just can't do the job. And I mean you want the job so -- -- yet to make that choice. Now let's talk about a few things that nine million gonna -- you're going to miss Mardi Gras day dressing as a woman -- -- a because it does so beautifully. How many times started off with well I think some of this is your fault I don't think the -- I think you're very you made the choice you'd decide what we costumes. And now I was chairman of the department. One a you and Carl N and others -- just so open Jim Henderson in the cheerleading outfits I think that began and if he -- that there was a sense I kept thinking now thing now. How miserable you can be in a bra. But no they laughed half a will we had these enhancements though and enhancements. And knew what it was for eight hours in line at ten in the -- it's not it's not a pleasure. Anyway but -- we -- that and you were. -- to -- its cheerleaders yes it is but I think and let me tell me now I'm across the street dead in radio and -- -- all looking at all. -- -- Cinderella I was Cinderella that's a a Cinderella and our minimum and one of different ailments and says Tom looked up. And soggy across industries is I think -- finished. Off and he's got a drops on a -- a whine whine it's more Europe it is money you know that is something. The people who know you know how much you enjoy and have participated. Actually that's one of the things I wanted to do next or hero wanna go the CNN's Fareed early in the morning I haven't been able to do that because of our coverage. -- wanna do that wanna go early NC some of the other things and spent some time in the French Quarter and you know just see a lot of vote -- program Mickelson before so. The -- then. Benton parade should tell -- and raise those and -- for a number of years love that Al was a lot of fun and now were recruited who. And that's that's a lot of fun to in a different way it's you know walking parade and more involved in the crowd and -- -- like -- -- lot of fun. Only went. Your thoughts on the -- some concerns I mean as a news person you've Deng and day out satin. And seeing many victories and nobody doubts that but we still have issues. Yeah I think we still have issues the crime is I think the crime is a big issue. -- -- police -- have records show that the murder rate is down the mayor says down. Too low flow like -- in three decades something like that are nearly three decades but there's a lot of violence shelter and there's a lot. There's a lot of concern about about trauma I think home invasions and some of these things carjackings. The go on you know shooting shootings and it's just. It's just that somehow the city has to get control that and I mean it's it's a complicated. It's a complicated issue when it's it's something that I think really detracts from the city. With everything we have going for him and we have we have so much going we we have. A business boom really a lot of entrepreneur or ship coming in London -- Hollywood south I mean. Movie trucks all over the place shooting films which I think it's awesome it's great that all the schools on. But we have to get some of them under control. Yeah and you said that the mentioned towards a very complex problem we've done any number of shows as channel forehands he and it is it is about poverty it is about PL giving up on education -- even though education has gotten better. It's a commitment. And and it's about parenting and it's about many things. In a big part of it is about hurting thing and that's true I think that the and people live in and the poverty people don't have options you know and they could resort to the most of the worst sort of formal option. Crime and -- that -- drugs so. But. That your feeling good about the city. Generally yeah I think the city is is doing for well I mean things are things are happening we're talking about the cruise terminal moment ago -- off the year and we have more cruise ships coming in. The tourism is booming. People love to visit -- have friends who come in here and -- they don't wanna leave hit some of them don't and they they always leave heavier too at a just the way it should they love the restaurants love the food. Let's stay with us were gonna continue to pick the brain of Dennis faltering right after the and we are back talking with Dennis Walter ring out again leaving the anchor desk at the end of the month. But not journalists because he's gonna create his own. And do all kinds of wonderful things. Let's talk a little bit about journalism and and it's many would say we've sort of live the golden era nobody wants to hear that but expect it's true because we. And where you know the the story was it you know and getting it done right was it and doing it with flair and make it interesting was it. And the colossal moment. Well I think that. In the economics of the business of change it's it's not as. It used to be that you turn the TV station on -- and money poured in the chest was. It it was just easy to make a lot of money with a TV station I don't think it's that easy anymore I mean I think that they -- We really have to fight for every dollar we get and and the economics have caused that will lead to cutbacks in in various places. So it's it's that more much more difficult to do to do -- kinds of stores we used to do. And that coupled with a -- consultant driven mentality yeah. Has impacted as well doesn't mean that is a wonderful things going on because there are and I'm so thrilled to see that there is a continued commitment to investigate. Yeah we have we have some really great investigative reporters -- channel four. And they're doing a great job we have Katie David and Michael -- stain and the you know you're doing great reports and and -- and I think it's much more difficult for them to get those stories Don because of the a limited and the more limited resources. -- -- back you know ten years ago it's. You know I I used to say it's it's always easy. Frankly sadly to cover crime because it's just go out -- Obama will fill time. Not the -- as a news it is news I always thought that we put it up to hide but that's a personal opinion. But to really commit to investigate the -- or really commit to long form. Features on people -- I believe strongly that people care about people in wanna know who's in their community. Does take commitment and as long as -- fight for those and still allow it -- that I think you know television news will be okay. Yeah I think I think there television news is is going through a change I mean it's it's it's a struggle sometimes to get the kinds of stories on the U wanna get done. Because there are as many camera people for example. As we used to have used to be that. Some would call logs and a you know there's someone to go with the with the great feature story in Algiers. Go downstairs -- a cameraman -- we're well. Good news story. It's not like that anymore you know camera people just aren't available so you have to yet to schedule one yet to see when you can get a camera person go -- -- story and it's not easy. That the public I'm not that should have to now and I don't have to know how banking this time you know how medicine is done but. But I don't think people do understand the amount of work that goes into putting the store together and -- -- might say. Gee you didn't have X story noble we -- Y and -- inning and being the because there are limitations you. And your hopes for the for the business. Well I think -- I hope that you know. I hope that it gets better hope that the economics. The financial condition improves salute to salute their can be. So that we can return to the kinds of story telling the country storytelling we used I mean. So we have the resources to do that kind of sources for excellent. But I think it's going to be difficult I mean were. One thing is I think the cable company should pay the TV stations war -- carrier signals -- Because we are providing a lot of material for them for example. They pay ESPN a lot of money. I. As the cable subscriber I am paying part of that I seldom watch ESP. If I had a choice I wouldn't you know it wouldn't wanna be -- she ESP I wanna pay for the local stations. And so I think a bigger portion of what the cable pays to these various outlets should go a little local stations. I vote for you have to. No but that your absolutely correct count what is the revenue stream we all know that the Internet has impacted via and other mediums -- impacted. On what revenue can be brought -- to have to think a little -- more creatively. But -- them. I do believe as I know you believe -- that local news is vital. We need to know what's going on in the world we know we know what's going on Washington around this country. But local news is fine. Local loses vital and it's it's taking more creativity you know to get to to get it done toot -- to tell those local stories. We -- we have partners the mid city messenger. The Australian messenger and that that really helps and we have a partnership with would advocate. And and that really helps us to sort of broaden our reach. It was wonderful last night watching -- -- handles. -- do his ears alert -- areas. But but I thought exactly what you're saying that's a partnership -- and years ago they talked about the need for that it never happened and now it is and on everybody's grabbing partners and it's only gonna help. But you need those partnerships to have that reach -- -- used to be that. Used to be -- that if we had a big ghost story at the federal court we bills sent over maybe even -- -- you can't do that now you know and none of the stations can mean we we were doing as much and more isn't as the other stations put. Financially they just we just don't have the resources to do all. And it takes people it takes good people you know which thank heaven they're still wonderful people who want to make this a career. Yeah that we have all my god we have great people coming has some of war you know we have moniker Hernandez -- ball. Nights that reporters are phenomenal. But Natalie Shepherd is coming up on the anchor desk and she's very good and so we have a lot of -- A lot of young people coming into are just spectacular you know we have. -- war David hammer David hammer came over from the two newspaper and he immediately picked up on how to do TV to a great show with his with his report. Nokia's and that isn't very interesting transition and you know made it -- as have others. Now it's it's a wonderful world we live in made better because you were in tennis but I really mean even in the dress. A you made it's special yet and I have loved every minute working with a knowing you know and I know you're gonna have a wonderful next chapter your line. I'm looking forward to -- I've had so much fun with you by the way we're with you was just blew dust and knowledge or skull putting out. -- -- You listen to migrants and played us the very best you thank you very -- stay with everyone will be right. Forty years of his life spent in broadcasting authority of them right here in New Orleans. I'm Dennis Walter and again from whole community -- It is his commitment to do that and as we all now lot of Christmas is like Thanksgiving. A lot of times working. But it's for the right reason but what a privilege to live in the city you know this is such a great place we will -- that you know -- made this home so might and you girls report Kansas -- -- -- granddaughters of borders. Now so the next chapter is going to be happy. Yes I'm looking forward to be a lot of fun. And if anybody wants to talk to them. I think look I think people -- -- my dentist do -- And you know you just that's what I'm saying you know. Am very open open to ideas possible. And we look forward to know what every you do it and do it beautifully. And that you have put up with that the pains in the behind that we work at times always my and you were always the -- This man on the set was the voice of reason. We would be spiraling one -- the other by dialing Dennis was solid. It's at least that -- -- it. Thank you again then again we really thank you Richard and -- and just the very best known speaking for every one channel four and everyone in the community.