Baseball legend Darryl Strawberry uses ministry to reach others battling addiction

Baseball legend Darryl Strawberry uses ministry to reach others battling addiction 2

Darryl Strawberry, once the highest-paid professional baseball player in America, now travels the country as an ordained minister.

After a very public fall from grace, a Major League Baseball legend, has dedicated his life to preaching the Gospel and sharing a message of redemption. Darryl Strawberry became one of the biggest stars in baseball in the 1980s and 1990s, until his career was derailed by drugs.

Drafted by the New York Mets, Strawberry was the 1983 National League Rookie of the Year. With a powerful swing, he hit 26 home runs and propelled himself into the national spotlight.

“That lifestyle is not real. It’s so many trap holds for you,” Strawberry said. “So many things that are out there. You say as a young player, ‘Well, I’ll never get into it.’ Well, if you don’t have any discipline (and) you don’t have any integrity and character, you will get into it.”

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A chance to chat with the next generation of journalists

a-chance-to-chat-with-the-next-generation-of-journalistsLearning is a lifelong adventure for any committed journalist, a journey shaped by academic studies, real world application, and experiences shared by those working in the field. There’s always an opportunity to grow for those open to it. Looking back on my college years, I was fortunate to have been exposed to constant advice from professors and professionals, even if I didn’t recognize its true value at the time. I vividly remember listening to presentations by network news producers, corporate news directors, Presidential campaign media advisors, pollsters, news anchors, reporters, photographers, and journalism academics. Today, I apply their principles and pointers on a daily basis.

Being asked to speak to a class of journalism students at my alma mater, Northwestern State University, is somewhat of an intimidating experience. You hope to leave behind at least one valuable piece of advice or thought-provoking concept to consider. Typically that process is made easier by the professor proposing a topic or focus for my conversation. Continue reading

Behind the Scenes: My annual tie tribute

Each year, I dust off this necktie as a tribute to my grandfather, who I give credit for encouraging me to pursue a career in journalism.

I’ve really grown to love this tradition. Every year, I pull this necktie out of the closet and wear it on or around my grandfather’s birthday. He retired it from his collection and “passed it down” to me when I was in high school, a few years before he died.

Sunday would have been “Paw Paw’s” 91st birthday. He deserves a great deal of credit for sparking my interest in journalism. We would watch the news together when I was a kid and he would save newspapers so I could read them at his house each weekend.

“Paw Paw” even encouraged me to try out for KPLC 7 News Teen Reporter program almost 20 years ago and gave me feedback when I wrote for the Lake Charles American Press teen page.

He was an extremely intelligent man, a loving grandfather who never knew a stranger, and could cook like nobody’s business.

Do you have any special ways you honor the memory of family members? Continue reading

Remembering a pioneer in East Texas television history

Hudson Collins, the first chief engineer of KLTV, has died at age 94.

This week, we learned of the passing of KLTV’s first chief engineer, Hudson Collins, who lived a long life of 94 years. While I never had the opportunity to meet him, I’m fascinated by many of the details of his pioneering career.

An engineer is an important position in any television station, but he holds the distinction of being a true pioneer in local television.

After speaking with his family, former colleagues, and even the workers at a Whataburger restaurant, I quickly developed great admiration for “Hud,” as he was known. Continue reading

Actor Kirk Cameron shares his spiritual walk from atheist to evangelist

Actor Kirk Cameron shares his spiritual walk from athiest to evangelist

Actor Kirk Cameron is no stranger to talking about his faith. He’s become one of the most prominent Christian voices in Hollywood.

Actor Kirk Cameron became a pop culture idol as the star of the 1980s hit TV comedy ‘Growing Pains.’ Raised in a family without God, he found his faith while portraying teenager Mike Seaver on the ABC sitcom.

Now, as one of the most prominent Christian voices in Hollywood, Cameron is inspiring others by sharing his spiritual walk.

“As a recovering atheist, I look back and I see how God used a friend who invited me to church even though I didn’t have any interest in God, to hear the message of the Gospel, at a time that I was thinking about what life was really all about and what happens after you die and how did we get here in the first place,” Cameron said.

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Celebrating 60 years of broadcasting in East Texas

Celebrating 60 years of broadcasting in East TexasHappy birthday KTRE! This weekend our station, serving Deep East Texas, celebrated 60 years of broadcasting excellence and service to the community. Hundreds of East Texans, local and state dignitaries, along with KTRE staffers, both past and present, gathered at the studios north of Lufkin for a Texas-sized celebration.

A few families even camped out in the parking lot, hoping to be first in line to register for contests an get autographs from the news team. It proved to be a wise decision, as the winding line snaked across the lot and down the street. We carted folks across the Lufkin State-Supported Living Center campus in golf carts for a first-class arrival. The reward was worth it — hot dogs, snow cones, and all the fixings waited under a tent that felt like a big-top circus was in town. Bounce houses helped the kids burn off energy after pigging out on cookies, cake, and sweets. Continue reading

Up close: West Texas storm chase intercepts tornado

West Texas Storm Chase 1

The KLTV Mobile StormTracker chase vehicle is equipped with a Davis weather station, National Weather Service radar, wireless high-speed internet, and a half-dozen cameras.

Chasing funnel clouds through the rolling hills of Rusk County to being pummeled with hail on the interstate in Harrison County, the KLTV Mobile StormTracker vehicle has already been put through the gauntlet. Wanting to test some modifications to the camera system on the chase vehicle, Meteorologist Grant Dade and I set out to track storms in West Texas.

Our journey began Thursday, May 23 with live reports on Good Morning East Texas as we drove toward Wichita Falls. Grant and I explained to viewers that the conditions were ripe for development to our west later that afternoon.

After several hours behind the wheel, we came to a stop in an area known as the Caprock, separating the high plains of the Texas panhandle. Watching radar in the vehicle, Grant let me know the chase was on. At more than two-thousand feet in elevation, we found a lookout northeast of Lubbock that was the perfect perch for watching the skies. Almost immediately, a thunderstorm caught Grant’s attention. Winds were whipping as we set up video and still cameras in the vehicle to capture bolts of lightning, flashing in the distance. Continue reading

Storm chase heads straight into path of destructive East Texas tornado

Waskom Tornado 1

The Mobile StormTracker chase vehicle endured a beating from hail & heavy rain before tracking a tornado’s path through Harrison County.

The threat of severe weather was looming and I got the call from KLTV 7 meteorologist Grant Dade that our latest chase was hours away. After filling up the Mobile StormTracker chase vehicle, Grant spent some time checking models, radar and forecast discussions to pinpoint the ideal place to watch storms fire up.

An impressive wall cloud moved through Marshall, signaling the prime time to move east. With his eye on live radar data, Grant warned that we were about to drive into some strong weather along Interstate 20; he was right. In all of our previous chases with me at wheel, this was certainly becoming the most nerve-wracking. Continue reading

KLTV Thanksgiving behind-the-scenes & a collection of recipes

Always a pleasure to have Mama Steph with us on GMET. Here’s her behind-the-scenes look at our Thanksgiving special and her delicious recipes!

In Mama Steph's Kitchen

November has been a lovely, busy month.

Some of the crew along with Grant, Dia, Lane and me. My son Justin is right behind me! He operates a camera on GMET. Some of the crew along with Grant, Dia, Lane and me. My son Justin is right behind me! He operates a camera on GMET.

I was excited to be a part of a special edition of Good Morning East Texas. On November 21,  GMET anchors Dia Wall and Lane Luckie, meteorologist Grant Dade and I brought some of our favorite Thanksgiving dishes and showed them off on-air. We put the recipes online, including my favorite dressing recipe! The dressing recipe is very special; I got it 18 years ago from “MawMaw Pearlie,” a neighbor of mine when my first son, Justin, was an infant. I thought it was going to be so difficult to prepare, but she taught me her secret shortcuts, and now I’m sharing them with you!

I was on the set setting up the food, and Grant was outside frying the turkey with the fire chief! I was on the set setting up the food, and Grant was outside frying…

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GMET’s Shrimp & Grits Showdown

GMET Shrimp & Grits ShowdownEach Friday our GMET Meteorologist Grant Dade shares his favorite recipes during our ‘Cooking Up a Storm’ segment. This week, Dia and I decided to settle our claims of serving superior Shrimp & Grits.

In a head-to-head competition we donned aprons and headed into the kitchen, fists flying. Ultimately, my version of shrimp & grits swept the taste test. Dia’s shrimp & sausage paired with my grits, quite possibly could produce the ultimate mouth-watering dish!

Here are each of our recipes and video clip of the segment:
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Time to rise & shine with Good Morning East Texas

Time to rise & shine with Good Morning East TexasTonight was my final East Texas News at Six broadcast on KTRE. Starting next week, I’ll be embarking on a new adventure, anchoring the Emmy Award-winning Good Morning East Texas on KLTV and KTRE.

This is an opportunity I’m excited about and I hope you will be too!  Moving to Tyler is bittersweet, especially with all the friendships and connections I’ve made in Deep East Texas over the last four-and-a-half years, but this is a tremendous chance to grow professionally and personally.

I sincerely appreciate each of you welcoming us into your homes each night for that standing appointment to have a conversation about what’s happening in our community. Continue reading

Storm watch: Inside the National Weather Service

Inside the Forecast Office at the National Weather Service located in Shreveport, Louisiana.

While the robotic voice announcing emergency alerts over your NOAA weather radio sounds like it couldn’t be further from life, there are actually dozens of real people behind the message who are working to save lives.

I recently got a behind the scenes look at the National Weather Service (NWS) Forecast Office in Shreveport, Louisiana. Local TV meteorologists and other staff from six Ark-La-Tex television stations participated in a workshop to coordinate ways to better serve the public.

We toured their complex, located along the edge of the Shreveport Regional Airport grounds. Also housed on the property, a weather balloon launch and tracking station, as well as the Doppler radar site. In January the radar equipment will be upgraded to a dual polarization radar, providing greater ability to detect and measure hail and other meteorological objects. ‘Dual Pol’ also will bring enhanced resolution and allow meteorologists to more accurately determine where heavy rain is falling at that moment. It will be particularly useful during tornadic weather. Wind measurement will improve, helping identify if a tornado has touched the ground, as well as pick up tornado debris on radar returns. Continue reading