Tomorrow, two Big Easy Anchor legends are going to sign off from their stations.
Norman Robinson anchors his final 6 p.m. newscast at WDSU and Dennis Woltering anchors his final 10 p.m. newscast at WWL-TV.
Though competitors, the two men share many experiences and attributes.
The Times Picayune reports that both aren't from New Orleans originally. Robinson grew up in Toomsuba, Miss., and Mobile, Ala., while Woltering was born in St. Louis and came of age in Venezuela and in the San Francisco Bay area. Both came to be accepted as virtual natives by local viewers.
Both are Vietnam-era military veterans, though neither saw action overseas. Robinson played a brass instrument in the Marine Corps Band while studying broadcasting on the side. Woltering was an Air Force radar operator on the West Coast before attending Oregon State and American University.
Both made their first jump to New Orleans from smaller markets. Robinson came from Mobile when Alec Gifford, then WVUE's news director, saw him on the air while passing through en route to Florida. Woltering was working in Fargo, N.D., when he got the call to come work at WWL. (Woltering admits he didn't know much about WWL or New Orleans when he made the move. "I knew it wasn't Fargo," he said).
Both worked at WWL before departing New Orleans for sojourns elsewhere. Robinson won a year-long Nieman Foundation Fellowship at Harvard University, then moved on to become White House correspondent for CBS News before returning to New Orleans and joining the WDSU team. Woltering departed WWL (as Dennis Wolter) to work for a decade at Philadelphia's CBS affiliate before returning to WWL (with the restored "ing" on his name).
Both missed New Orleans dearly while they were gone.
Both are fiends for covering the local political scene, each moderating countless candidate debates and issues-and-answers programs for their respective stations.