WISN-TV Channel 12 news director Lori Waldon was recently promoted to news director at KCRA and KQCA-TV, Hearst Television sister stations in Sacramento, Calif.
After nearly six years in the WISN 12 newsroom, Waldon will wrap up her last broadcast Friday, Aug. 10.
“I’m going from a great newsroom to a great newsroom,” Waldon said.
Under Waldon’s leadership, WISN 12 gained recognition for its reporting earning honors such as a national Edward R. Murrow Award for “Best Newscast” and an Emmy for “Breaking News.” The Wisconsin Broadcaster’s Association also named Channel 12 the “Best News Operation” in the state twice.
Locally, WISN 12 News at 10 p.m. held the highest ratings for the second consecutive major ratings period in March. Its early evening broadcasts captured top news audiences as well, according to wisn.com.
Waldon, a native of California, said many of the smaller, day-to-day stories her Channel 12 news team has captured have been as meaningful as their larger enterprise pieces, investigative reports and political coverage.
“I think the thing that all of those (stories) have in common is that we are a newsroom full of excellent storytellers,” she said.
Waldon said she worked hard to set the bar high in the newsroom. She commends the work ethic of her staff members, who examine the merits of each story they air and who set their own individual bars.
“Most days we hit that bar,” Waldon said. “Sometimes we surpass that, but even on the rare days where we fall short on something, we still get back up on the horse the next day and we do really good work.”
Waldon has also relied on the perspectives and feedback of viewers in Milwaukee, who she said are smart, engaged and sometimes prompt her team to dig a little deeper into a story.
Before her direction at WISN 12, Waldon served as assistant news director at KOVR-TV and KMAX-TV in Sacramento. Her previous work includes news management at KPIX-TV in San Francisco and general assignment reporting at stations in North Carolina, Alabama and Illinois. She earned a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and has been a visiting faculty member at the Poynter Institute for journalism.
Jan Wade, president and general manager at WISN 12, said the Hearst family looks for top journalists within the company like Waldon when opportunities open in bigger markets.
“In this case, Lori was a great candidate to fill this job,” Wade said. “She’s from California. She’s worked in the Sacramento market, and she’s ready to make the move. So all the pieces kind of fit.”
As Wade searches for WISN 12’s next news director, she will focus on finding someone who can effectively build on the station’s accomplishments.
“I’m going to look at somebody who will come in and capitalize on the hard work that’s already been achieved here and then continue to elevate our product, continue to hire great people, continue to do strong journalism and continue to serve the people of southeastern Wisconsin better than anyone else,” Wade said. “That’s always our goal.”
WISN-Channel 12 is a media partner of BizTimes.