KSWO wraps 70 year anniversary coverage
LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - 7News has been celebrating 70 years of being on-air throughout the month of March. But how did we decide which stories to cover, and what ended up making it on air?
People are the heart of every news station, so we looked for them. Newsroom conversations on who we grew up watching and stories we loved became a list of names, which formed the basis of later congratulatory videos and “where are they now” stories. We dug deep for old photo albums, memories and vintage clothes.
Sometimes that digging was literal. Out of sight of the cameras above the newsroom is a small library of cassette tapes and DVDs containing our old newscasts. The earliest film was inaccessible -- the technology to watch it was either obsolete or too expensive to justify. But we combed through the rest with a notebook and VHS player.
We then created a trivia contest, challenging viewers to answer questions every Friday in order to win KSWO-branded gear. Most of the answers were hidden in our website or anniversary content: a history video said our old colors were blue and gold, while names of general managers and news directors were sprinkled through congratulatory messages and in-depth stories. We found that most contest winners didn’t use our easter eggs at all: while we’d made sure to edit Haley Wilson’s website bio a month in advance, every winner that week said they’d remembered or estimated when she joined the team.
Our actual coverage plan was put into action on March 1, as we began airing stories on KSWO’s history, revisiting prominent personalities and unveiling behind-the-scenes secrets. Not everything made it to the screen: while we had planned a longer series to introduce today’s team, especially off-camera roles, much of the content had to be cut due to breaking news. We re-worked what had already been filmed into three stories about today’s newsroom that were very different from the original vision.
While the second week of March was marked by a special election and 5th Season, our annual severe weather series, we still ran videos from past reporters and anchors talking about their time at the station. We then did a deep dive on some of our most prominent personalities before introducing today’s team, unveiling some behind-the-scenes secrets, and talking with past reporters who went on to become major community partners.
We even had some surprise guests come back to join us on the show! Cynthia Sosa, Nicole Jolly, and “local legend” Jan Stratton all returned to the desk in March to co-anchor the newscast.
But the best part was hearing from the community. We got dozens of messages. One viewer sent videos of a 1957 agriculture report; another reached out to say her parents had gotten married at the station, a few months after it went to air in 1953. We got to piece together our own history through the community we serve, and it was an incredible experience.
In the end, news comes down to people -- those in the stories, at the station, and watching at home. For those who have tuned in over the years, we thank you for trusting us with your stories. It’s been an amazing walk down memory lane, but we’re even more excited for what’s to come.
Find a list of our 70th Anniversary coverage below, and see all stories on our 70th anniversary page.
History: when did KSWO begin? We take you back to the basics, and throw in a few cool facts along the way.
- Lisa John: meet KSWO’s first female reporter, who worked her way up to the anchor desk in the 70s
Where are they now: taking a look back at some of our most prominent faces.
- Matt Barrie and Randy Scott: how two KSWO sports reporters ended up at the same ESPN anchor desk (but lost an armadillo on the way)
- Tom Charles: the man who never wanted to be on TV became one of our most well-known faces
- David Bradley: a former anchor and news director reflects on 31 years at 7News
- Don Armes: an agriculture reporter became an Oklahoma state legislator, then lobbyist
- Neely Tsoodle: how one reporter broke barriers to tell Native American stories
- Andy Wallace: rehashing big moments and groundbreaking technology with one of our weather team’s most famous alumni
- Omar ViaFranca: a trailblazing anchor and reporter now working for CBS News
Today’s team: what viewers see on the TV is a tiny sliver of what we do every day at KSWO. While we couldn’t dive into all of the details -- a lot of stories were left on the cutting room floor due to breaking news and time constraints -- we were excited to give a look behind the curtain.
- Good Morning Texoma: how KSWO veteran Kyle Weatherly, anchor Alexis Young, and First Alert Meteorologist Josh Reiter are looking to re-make the morning shows
- Behind the scenes: our evening news crew fills you in on what happens before the show starts and the secrets we’re hiding, right in front of the camera (hint: there’s a foot pedal)
- 10+ years club: turnover is the norm in the news industry, so it’s remarkable how KSWO has so many employees with 10+ years at the station -- including ones who never want to be in front of the camera
Community partners: we’re proud of how we launch careers, but we’re even prouder of how former employees often become community leaders. We work closely with many of our former reporters as they continue sharing information and stories with Texoma.
- Comanche Nation: Sarae Ticeahkie’s 7News reports brought Native American stories into mainstream broadcast, and she continues that work today as Comanche Nation’s public relations officer. Current and upcoming projects with the KSWO work to make news more accessible to the tribe, particularly its older members
- Fort Sill: Keith Pannell and Marie Pihulic both worked at 7News before moving to the military base, where they now lead the post’s public affairs team
- Great Plains Technology Center: Not all community partners came from the news department! Teresa Abram looked back on her time with KSWO’s creative team and reflected on turnover in the news industry
- Comanche County Memorial Hospital: Nicole Jolly was the host of Medwatch, so it’s fitting she’d become the marketing director at CCMH
Anniversary messages: videos from former employees with congratulations and anecdotes about their time at the station.
- Stacia Naquin: now anchoring in Columbus, Ohio
- Emily (Jaster) Seed: former anchor, reporter and Medwatch host
- Monte Brown: former anchor and reporter
- Cindy Coleman: longtime KSWO employee and former sales manager
- Sylvia Corkill: former reporter, now located in Oklahoma City
- Tarra Gilbert: now Dr. Tarra Bates, she worked her way up the KSWO ladder after starting in 1980
- Matt Dipirro: former Chief Meteorologist and storm chaser
- Dan Threlkeld: currently Chief Meteorologist at KTUL
Trivia contest: We gave out a grand prize and seven other awards to winners every Friday in March. Warning: spoilers ahead!
- March 3: Nearly all television stations located west of the Mississippi river have call signs that start with a K. What do the letters SWO in KSWO’s call sign represent? Southwest Oklahoma.
- March 10: What were our old station colors? Blue and gold.
- March 17: What year did Haley Wilson join KSWO? 2016.
- March 24: Name two previous 7News general managers or news directors. Jan Stratton, David Bradley, James Warner, Larry Patton and more.
- March 31: How many years ago did Medwatch start? 25.
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