STEPPIN’ OUT CELEBRATES 30 YEARS ON PUBLIC TELEVISION
WYES’ Weekly Arts & Entertainment Program Remembers Three Decades
WYES-TV’s weekly arts and entertainment program STEPPIN’ OUT celebrates 30 years. And what better way to toast the anniversary than to reflect on the three decades of New Orleans’ cultural scene on A STEPPIN’ OUT SPECIAL: 30 YEARS AND COUNTING!
The 30-minute program airs on Friday, September 2 at 7:30 p.m. on WYES-TV/Channel 12.
“I always felt like there was a need for a show that would spotlight our city’s ever flourishing visual and performing arts scenes.” said creator, producer and host Peggy Scott Laborde.
“Over the years we’ve covered hundreds of plays, art exhibits, local books and of course food and restaurant news. Initially airing on WLAE-TV on March 19, 1986, the program moved, complete with set, over to WYES in January 1988. During that time WLAE had ceased local production temporaritly and fortunately then WYES general manager Mike Labonia saw the need for this type of program in the community,” recalls Laborde. Included in the special will be an excerpt from the first show.
From the first season until his passing in 2009, theatre critic Al Shea covered the performing arts scene. He started his long television career at WDSU and was considered to be among America’s first television broadcast entertainment critics. Debuting that first season and still covering the visual arts scene for STEPPIN’ OUT is Louisiana Life Magazine Art columnist John Kemp.
Among the weekly features for many years has been the Artist Spotlight, introducing a new artist to the viewers each week. Also popular is the Julia Street New Orleans trivia question (courtesy of New Orleans Magazine). In the more recent past, the program has added performance segments featuring bands, theatre productions and even Mardi Gras marching groups. “We have been so honored to have Deacon John Moore, Irma Thomas, the late Allen Toussaint and many other fine musicians on our program, recalls Laborde. “We have also had internationally known but New Orleans born tenor Bryan Hymel and soprano Sarah Jane McMahon with us as guests.”
Appearing on the program on a regular basis are food writer Poppy Tooker and theatre critic Alan Smason. Among the program’s occasional guests are WWNO’s book reviewer Susan Larson and WWL movie reviewer Alfred Richard, who provides updates on the local movie and television production scenes.
In addition to the weekly overview of the arts, since the program’s first season Mardi Gras historians Errol Laborde and Arthur Hardy have previewed the annual celebration with a special edition called STEPPIN’ OUT “It’s Carnival Time.”
For the past five years, the Celeste Judell Arts Award has been given to someone who is active on the local performing or visual arts scene. Judell was a longtime New Orleans arts patron and worked with the STEPPIN’ OUT production staff. This year’s honoree is actor/playwright/producer Ricky Graham.
The program has garnered numerous awards over the years, including the New Orleans Press Club Award for Best Talk Show.
Tom Gregory is reporter and director of STEPPIN’ OUT. Ashli Richard Morris is associate producer. Kelsi Schreiber is production associate. Larry Roussarie is editor.
For over 59 years, WYES has worked to inform, teach, illuminate, entertain and inspire our entire community. It is the oldest public television station serving southeast Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the 12th oldest in the nation, and the most utilized non-profit organization in our two states with as many as a half-million people using our broadcasts, outreach activities and website each week. We are proud to be part of the nation’s largest classroom, the largest stage for the arts and a trusted window to the world. For more information, call (504) 486-5511 or visit wyes.org. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter & Instagram.