In our industry, a tenure this long is uncommon. But that’s Donna — truly exceptional — both as a journalist and as a person.
Retirement is a bittersweet moment for a beloved collegiate. KTRE and KLTV veteran reporter Donna McCollum is retiring after an amazing career of 44 years telling the stories of Deep East Texas. Friday was her last day and we can’t say “thank you” enough for her more than four decades of service to this community.
Through the years, she’s served as our dedicated Nacogdoches Bureau Chief, but her storytelling has taken her across the Piney Woods of East Texas and beyond. Donna has been a trusted voice who exemplifies our slogan, ‘Caring. Committed. Proud of East Texas.’
Selfishly, it’s tough for me to think about our newsroom without THE Donna McCollum. Through all the changes in the people, the technology, and the evolving history of this community, she’s been the one constant.
Before the age of Zoom meetings, Facetime, and even fiber optic cables, she would feed her report every day by a microwave signal from the Bureau. When I arrived at KTRE in 2008, I’d have to get on the phone with her to coordinate the feed and record her video on the other end from the Lufkin newsroom.
For close to five years, I looked forward to our daily afternoon chats – about stories, life, and family. She probably thought we were just passing the time while her video recorded into the server. But watching each story real-time with her on the phone was a MasterClass in how to make it in this business. So many pointers, journalism philosophies, and insights on East Texas. I soaked up every second. I’ve always been amazed by Donna’s interviewing style. She always gets people to open up, often sharing surprising or powerful statements. And there are few reporters as versatile — always finding the story within a story. Fortunately, when I moved to mornings 10 years ago, my learning by Donna’s example didn’t end.
Most of all, I’m going to miss introducing her stories — always with anticipation of which interesting figure she’d interview, what I’d learn or discover about East Texas, or just seeing her creatively glide through a complicated subject or breaking news. Her work and reputation bring so much credibility to this newsroom.
So many fond memories over the years — whether field anchoring Shuttle Columbia anniversaries together, sitting courtside at SFA versus NSU basketball games, or grabbing dinner at the Liberty Bell.
On behalf of the countless reporters and anchors that have learned by your example, “thank you!” Donna, your mentoring has made me a better journalist and I’ll be forever grateful. Congratulations on an incredible career as the longest-tenured broadcast journalist in East Texas.
Like me, you’ll be happy to know that Donna and her family are staying right here in Nacogdoches County to enjoy retirement.
Friday, Donna’s final day was concluded with a Texas-sized sendoff. Dozens of current and former colleagues, family, friends, sources, and community leaders gathered for a reception at the Nacogdoches Chamber of Commerce to share memories and tributes. Donna’s husband, son, and father were also on hand to celebrate this extraordinary woman.
State Representative Travis Clardy also presented Donna with this resolution from the Texas House of Representatives:
WHEREAS, Veteran reporter Donna McCollum is retiring from KTRE-TV in East Texas in February 2022, drawing to a close an exceptional broadcasting career that has spanned four and a half decades; and
WHEREAS, In 1977, Ms. McCollum joined KTRE-TV an ABC affiliated based in Pollok that serves Angelina, Nacogdoches, and Shelby Counties; in the years since, she has produced upwards of 11,000 stories for the station’s newscasts and forged lasting connections with viewers; her reporting has focused on a broad range of topics, including everything from fires to murder trials to such events as the annual blueberry festival; one of the most memorable chapters of her tenure took place in February 2003, when the space shuttle Columbia broke apart high above East Texas, and she chronicled the experiences of area residents who assisted in the search and recovery effort; more recently, she has helped educate the public about the COVID-19 pandemic; and
WHEREAS, Widely respected by her peers, Ms. McCollum has received the Steve Pieringer Award for Outstanding Valor in News Coverage from the Texas Association of Broadcasters and the Excellence in Journalism Award from the Texas Farm Bureau; her other accolades include the State Media Award from the Texas Animal Control Association, the Best Spot News By Individual Award from the Texas Associated Press, and the Award of Excellence from the Texas County Agricultural Agents Association; additionally, she has been honored by the Nacogdoches branch of the NAACP; and
WHEREAS, A resident of Nacogdoches County, Ms. McCollum is married to Mike Wiggins, who serves as the marketing director for KTRE; they are the proud parents of a son, Matthew; Ms. McCollum is a Houston native and a graduate of Southwest Texas State University; and
WHEREAS, Donna McCollum’s dedication, professionalism, and journalistic integrity have greatly benefited the people of East Texas, and she may indeed reflect with pride on her career well spent as she embarks on the next exciting chapter of her life; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That Donna McCollum be congratulated on her retirement from KTRE-TV and that she be extended sincere best wishes for the future.
The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of KLTV/KTRE-TV or Gray Television. They are solely the opinion of the author. All content © Copyright 2022 Lane Luckie