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Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Rick Rowe Brings Light to Stories


Forty-nine years in the market and at KTBS

Everyone has a story.

Each edition, Tony Taglavore takes to lunch a local person – someone well-known, influential or successful – and asks, “What’s Your Story?”

It was his last live shot of the morning news. The day was Tuesday — make that Tasty Tuesday — so Rick Rowe was showcasing an area eatery.

Rick doesn’t remember where he was but does remember what he ate. In particular, its taste.

“Try my chitlins. That’s what everybody loves,” the owner — a nice, older lady — told Rick.

“I said, ‘OK.’ I had never tried chitlins. Oh, my gosh, buddy. Tony, literally, I bit into it, and it tasted like crap. Like dog poop. Of course, I can’t say that. So, I said, ‘This is not bad.’ I couched it in a way that didn’t hurt her. I couldn’t do that.”

Talk about self-control. “I’m almost sure I didn’t swallow. I did not. Buddy, it was the worst food I’ve bitten into in my entire life. ... It comes from the (pig) intestines, but I figured it had been cleaned and all of that.”

Rick may have fooled some viewers, but not all viewers.

“I knew what you were doing,” the news anchor later told Rick. “I knew you were lying about the chitlins.”

Rick didn’t lie about that story or his story, which he shared over lunch at a place of his choosing, McAlister’s Deli in Shreveport. Chitlins weren’t on the menu, so Rick settled for a club wrap and a half-sweet/half-unsweet tea. I devoured a pecanberry salad and washed it down with water.

In the world of local television, Rick is an outlier. He has been in the business for 49 years and at the same station (KTBS Channel 3) for 49 years. Rick is also one of the finest storytellers in the country. Trust me, I’ve seen a lot of them. Yet he chose to stay home, declining early career offers from big city stations in New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Phoenix and Miami.

“Every time I got an offer, (KTBS) always matched it.”

That’s not to say Rick doesn’t wonder about what could have been.

“I never will know what might have happened if I had gone that route. That’s probably the one regret in my life — I never tried it to see what might have happened.”

But home is home, and Rick loves the Ark-La-Tex. He and Donna recently celebrated 34 years of marriage. They have two children and a 1-year-old granddaughter. Ask Rick about Noelle (born two days before Christmas) and watch his face light up like the nighttime sky on the Fourth of July “The first time I held her, I cried. It was an experience I had never felt before. I’ve always liked kids, and I love my own kids, but there is some attraction that she has to both me and my wife. ... Her face when she smiles at us — I’ve heard about this all my life. People have told me about this, but I’ve actually experienced it. It’s real.”

Rick was born at Barksdale Air Force Base, one of three sons to an Air Force dad and a housewife mom. He went to Waller Elementary, Rusheon Middle School and Bossier High School.

“We didn’t have any money. We weren’t rich at all. We weren’t privileged. None of that.”

What Rick did have was a father who instilled values and a mother who preached religion.

“Every time the church doors were open, I was there. It was not an option. I was going to be in church. We were there Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night prayer meeting. There were many times I didn’t want to go.”

This included the Sunday night in 1964 when The Beatles made their American television debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

“I thought, ‘Surely, they’re not going to make us go to church when The Beatles are on ‘Ed Sullivan’! You’re kidding me?’ I’m in the back seat of the car, and I’m trying to get out of doing this. We’re pulling out, and I’m holding my breath, hoping I will pass out and we won’t go to church — they will bring me back so I can watch The Beatles.”

Instead of watching John, Paul, George and Ringo, Rick watched his preacher.

As a child, Rick didn’t dream of being on TV — except as a football player. He was consumed with the sport. Rick played in middle and high school (“The middle guard is usually 300 pounds, and I was 160 pounds”) and was planning to become a coach.

That is, until a comment from his speech teacher in Rick’s senior year changed everything.

“One day I gave my speech, I’m coming back to my desk, and Mrs. Jaynes says, ‘Ricky, you have a nice voice and you speak well. Have you ever thought about a career in broadcasting?’ Tony, a light bulb went off in my brain.”

So, instead of majoring in physical education at LSUS, Rick concentrated on communications.

“When I wanted to move into the world of broadcasting, I had no confidence, no talent, no skill.” But that didn’t stop Rick’s loving mother from lighting a fire under her son’s seat.

After Rick’s first year of college, his mom said, “Get up. We’re going to look for jobs.”

“I said, ‘Mom, I’m 18 years old. Nobody’s going to hire me.’

“She said, ‘Come on, we’re going.’ She practically had to grab me and put me in the car. We drove to a couple of radio stations. Then she said, ‘Now, we’re going to go to Channel 6 (KTAL).’

“I said, ‘What? You’re kidding me. A television station?’ Channel 6 at that time, and unfortunately (it) still is, was the number three station (in the market). She figured if anyone would hire her son, it might be them. She had seen the quality of talent they had on the air.”

A summer job getting video of car wrecks and house fires at KTAL led to a job the following summer at KTBS. After three years of college, Rick chose not to return and graduate. He was learning much more in the field than in the classroom.

Like the time he was pressed into duty at the anchor desk.

Rick Rowe is storyteller extrordinaire at KTBS Channel 3.

“I was working on the weekends, and our anchor got drunk and didn’t come in. ... They said, ‘Rick, you gotta do the news.’ I wasn’t ready. I was 20 years old. I had no real experience. ... I wasn’t very good, and it was obvious. ... I said, ‘If I can’t do this maybe I need to think about something else.’”

But after Rick died on the news set, he rose again, working in the station’s sports department. There, Rick found his calling, or as he likes to say, his God-given gift.

“I started to find something I could do reasonably well — telling stories. Then I realized, ‘Yeah, I can do this. Maybe not as an anchor, but from a storytelling aspect.’”

The rest is history. Rick, a boyish-looking 69-year-old, figures he’s told thousands of stories on his way to winning a multitude of awards — stories that have made you laugh and cry.

Rick does it all. He is his own shooter, writer and editor. Rick owns his equipment and puts the stories together in his home studio. While he has many talents, videography may top the list.

“Capturing beautiful images, nature, oh, I love it. Lots of people go golfing, fishing, hunting. I go hunting with my camera or a drone. My joy and my passion is to get up early on cold mornings, get my drone out and capture a beautiful sunrise. Flowers in the spring ... the thing that people get when they catch a big bass, I get when I capture those beautiful images.”

Knowing Rick, the station’s live morning reporter, had been up since long before sunrise, it was time to ask my final question: As always, what about his life story can be helpful to others?

Personally speaking, “You get what you give. ... Most of life comes back to you. The good that you do comes back eventually in one way or another, and the bad that you do. It’s a spiritual law. You sow, seed and reap the fruit. You sow bad seed, and generally, at some point, bad seed is going to come back.”

Professionally speaking, “If you really want to be paid well and have job security, be excellent at your job. Put in the time and effort.

Invest. To get a return, you have to have an investment.”

So, how much longer will Rick invest in the time and effort required to tell our stories daily?

“As long as I’m physically and mentally able, I would love to tell stories. That’s just the truth. I think it’s good for me physically, and I know it’s good for me mentally, emotionally and spiritually because of the nature of the stories I am able to tell.”

But expect the stories to be about something other than chitlins.

Do you know someone who has a story to tell? Email: editor@318forum.com


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