KSWO highlights former reporters and current Ft. Sill liaisons
LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - While we’ve shared a lot of familiar faces for our 70th anniversary there are several people who have stayed within the community, continuing to give back and work closely with the station.
Keith Pannell and Marie Pihulic were two of those people. Both made their on-air debut here at KSWO, and both grew a passion for sharing the stories of Fort Sill, ultimately making it their full time careers.
The now Deputy Director of Public Affairs Pannell said, “I started in KSWO in June of 1995. I had done six years of radio. I was working in Altus. Actually dating a girl in Duncan, and I had to go right by here to get to her house, and she said, ‘why don’t you just apply at channel 7 and see what happens.’ Low and behold, Jan Stratton at the time said, ‘I’ve had your name in my rolodex for a year, what took you so long?”
Pihulic says she started as a production assistant and moved around the station, anchoring on the weekends and occasionally reporting.
“I was going to Cameron University at the time, and so I was able to continue my education, get my degree in communications, and get hands-on experience at the same time,” said the current Garrison Public Affairs Officer.
Though they worked in the newsroom at different periods, they both credited KSWO for teaching them about the industry and preparing them for anything. They both also mentioned strong mentorship from Jan Stratton and David Bradley.
“This is where you make your bones, this is where you get everything you want right here in Lawton. Plus, Lawton has this great aspect of having a military base, right there,” said Pannell.
“It was a great experience, it allowed me to jump from KSWO to go to a job as a producer at KENS 5 in San Antonio, so I was able to make a really big leap just from my education here and my time here at KSWO,” said Pihulic.
With the ability to carry over their experience from KSWO to Fort Sill, they both are happy continuing to bridge the relationship with the Lawton/Ft. Sill community.
“For the Garrison, I basically help put out the city of Fort Sill’s information, and KSWO working hand-in-hand hand has been really easy because I understand the news side of it and what you guys need. I think it just helps, the whole background in general,” said Pihulic. “It’s not a light job to put out the news people really rely on it and they make decisions based on it, and a lot of times with emergency messaging I’m pointing right back to you guys to say, ‘KSWO is telling us the storm is coming here.’”
Pannell said, “What I get to do with my job today, is I get to tell the stories of the less than 1% of the people who join the military and wear the army uniform, and I love that.”
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