Video flashback: Scott Walker, 21-year-old sports anchor

I was going through some old video and stumbled upon some gems. I started my career as a sports anchor at WDAM in Hattiesburg while still in college. These videos prove that I was once a very green 21-year-old.

WDAM: Interviewing former C-USA and SEC Commissioner Mike Slive in 1996.

WDAM: Tennessee / Ole Miss highlights. A young Peyton Manning at QB for the Vols in 1996.

WLBT: Sports Journal promo from 1998. This is awful.

On the road: Tonight’s gubernatorial debate at Louisiana Tech

We’re on the road to the Louisiana Tech campus  in Ruston for tonight’s critical debate. Election Day is only nine days away.

The debate, which begins at 6 p.m., will be televised locally on WDSU and streamed online at and the WDSU mobile app. It will also air on TV stations across the state.
A panel of journalists from across the state will be asking questions. I am the only journalist from New Orleans on the panel. The moderator will be Sherri Talley from KTBS-TV in Shreveport.

The four leading candidates for Louisiana governor will participate — Sen. David Vitter, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle and State Rep. John Bel Edwards.

Senator Vitter has declined previous invitations to televised debates except tonight’s and the one Oct. 1, which also aired on WDSU.

I’ll have live reports on WDSU News at 4 and 5 p.m.

WDSU gubernatorial debate airs live Thursday at 6 p.m.

All four of the leading candidates in the race to succeed Gov. Bobby Jindal are expected to take part in the first major debate of the campaign — one which will air live from the studios of WDSU TV.

The Commitment 2015 event will be moderated by WDSU News anchor Scott Walker.

Expected to participate are U.S. Sen. David Vitter, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, all Republicans; State Rep. John Bel Edwards and attorney Cary Deaton, who are Democrats; and Rev. Jeremy Odom, who is not affiliated with any party.
Polls have shown Vitter and Edwards leading, with Angelle and Dardenne each trailing by double-digit margins. The two highest-finishing candidates will advance to a runoff unless one candidate can secure in excess of 50 percent of the vote.

That’s highly unlikely, according to analysts, meaning the Oct. 24 “jungle primary” will likely serve as the first in a two-round battle, with the top candidates meeting head-to-head in a Nov. 21 runoff.

The WDSU debate will address a wide range of topics central to the role of the governor. In addition to the live broadcast on WDSU TV, it will be distributed on television stations and websites across Louisiana, including a livestream on and the WDSU mobile app.

Jindal, who is running for president in the waning months of his second term, has become a target of all of the major candidates for governor. His successor will inherit a problematic budget and a higher education system that some have put at crisis levels. (From

Sean Payton news conference transcript — four questions to get to Brees’ status

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean PaytonMedia Availability

Monday, September 21, 2015


Opening statement: “We are finishing up with the team meeting and are kind of going through (yesterday’s game). There are some obvious things from that game yesterday that are hurting our chances in winning a football game. The turnover statistic (is something) that we thought would be important. We were able to create a couple (turnovers) defensively, and that was encouraging. Yet still, offensively, we had two fumbles and an interception. The penalties, we have to get that cleaned up. There are way too many hidden yards in that end of the spectrum. We had 12 total (penalties) called on us, not 12 accepted, but seven defensively, four offensively and one in the kicking game. We really weren’t able to take advantage of some of the opportunities we got from our defense. I thought we lost the battle in the kicking game with a 60-yard return given up and none for us. Particularly, right at the end of the half, I think it was at 1:23 when we were kicking off, we give up a big return and that’s going to lead to points for them. There are a number of things that we have to work on cleaning up. There’s a sense of urgency, obviously, to get those things corrected or we’ll have the same type of result.”


You made a strong statement last night, along the lines of bringing someone else in; was that (in regards to) players?


“No, I think that is a general philosophy. It really wasn’t a threat as much as saying if penalties continue to happen or certain turnovers continue to happen – the first step in getting a win is figuring out why you lost. That is coaches, myself included, all of us.”


Is it one area that is more concerning than others or are all of them on equal footing?


“The penalty number bothers me. Now, is it being called in a fashion that is a little different. I thought, looking at the film, it is one of the better crews that we get each season. I think it is a real good crew. When I go back and watch the tape, every week you can pick and choose, but I didn’t see a lot of calls where all of a sudden I am on the phone with the league office wondering what just happened. I think it is a real good crew. A penalty, to some degree, is a mental error. It is a decision to do something that, either by being out of position, or maybe it is pre-snap, that is troubling. (For instance), being offsides at home, those things we’ve got to clean up quickly.”


(Brandon) Browner came in with the reputation for getting a lot of penalties, he had three yesterday. Is that acceptable in any way and what can you do to correct that?


“I think that you look specifically at each one. There is a play in there where he has help over the top, yet he is going to watch that and say, you’re in good position here and there is no need to grab. I think each one would be different.”


Are you worried about Drew (Brees) at all going forward?


“I am not worried about Drew. But certainly when he takes a shot like he took yesterday, and I didn’t see it until watching the film today, you want to make sure that he is healthy and he is upright. He has been throwing it outstanding. He takes that shot and that can affect you, once you get hit like that. We’ve got to be better in protection. Too many times he was getting hurried.”


Do you maybe consider, for his long-term health, sitting him down and letting him heal up?


“I think it is early right now. Today is the day after. We’ll take a peak and see how he is feeling, how he is coming along and see where we are on Wednesday. Certainly we’ll do the best thing for him and for where he is at. I think it is early to say that.”


When you say too many times being hurried, did you mean hit?


“Well, a hit after a throw would be a hurry. Whether it is a sack or you throw it and get hit, you’re hurried. That is what I meant.”


After watching film, did it stand out more that those hits did affect his throwing than you initially thought when you were in the middle of the game?


“The one specific hit that he took, it certainly hindered him and made it more difficult. Part of throwing the ball well is having that balance on first and second down. In the first half, we really struggled with running the football. In the second half, we kind of got a little spark from Khiry (Robinson) and were able to make some yards. If you become one-dimensional, it becomes harder on the offensive line, becomes harder on the QB and becomes challenging for your team. We tried to make sure that we were committed to the run. There are a handful of play-action passes that we have set up off of it and I think that is going to be important for us. Our first and second down efficiency yesterday wasn’t very good at all.”


Have you been surprised that the running game has had some issues?


“I wouldn’t say surprised. You get disappointed. There has been some moments, and yet we’re going to have to sort through that. We’re going to have to be better and we’re going to have to be better during the week at the details. We feel like we’ve got a good quality backfield. We were able to get (C.J.) Spiller some touches yesterday, did on a limited basis. That is going to be something that has to improve.”


Robinson’s yards per carry picked up though right?


“Absolutely. I thought in the second half, we had some juice going. We had a couple of different schemes. I think that Mark (Ingram) then had a few big runs in that second half. Just from a consistency standpoint, we have to be a little bit better. The first half numbers weren’t good and the second half numbers, when you look at it, were a lot better.”


Was that the plan for C.J. Spiller, seven snaps?


“The plan was to call it a dozen. It was going to be, here is a list of Spiller plays and let’s get him up. I don’t know that it was certainly seven on the nose. It probably was more like 12.”


They said on the broadcast that you guys had a plan to ice and heat his knee and that it wasn’t something that he suffered during the game.


“The plan for him, and with some of these guys, you see it all of the time, is to get on the bike, stay warm and stay loose, if you’re playing on a limited basis. That was more of the plan, as to how he was going to keep it warm. He is doing fine.”


Can you put your finger on why this offense has been unable to kind of develop that rhythm and that tempo that we’re so used to seeing out of you guys?


“I think that some of the things that we’ve spoken about already. I think that the penalties haven’t been good. They put you behind the chains. Last night, pick a drive or pick a drive in the Arizona game where, all of a sudden, you get a significant penalty. There are times that we just have to be a little bit better with regards to our execution. It is not one big thing. It is not as easy as saying this is the one thing that we have to fix. Generally, it is a handful of things that you have to be a little bit more efficient at.”


Given that you lost some picks in recent drafts and that last year’s draft wasn’t that good, along with parting with 3 guys for cap reasons, is this team constructed to contend for championships?


“Well before we start talking about contending for championships, this team is put together and focused on winning now. We’re focused, and after we get through today we’re focused on Carolina. In order to get where we want to go at the end of the season you have to be able to play well throughout and consistently. There will be some setbacks but we have to correct some of these things that are hurting us very quickly. From a grand scheme of things, we have this roster right now and you know Clark Kent is not walking through the door. We have to clean up some of the mistakes that are keeping us from winning games.”


With the recent week in the NFL treading towards historic amounts of penalties, is your team just trending with the league?


“I’ll say this, were not trending away (from the average). I haven’t seen the numbers yet from the other teams, (I’ve been) really focused on our team. If I were looking at a number of calls saying ‘I can’t believe their calling that’, but I’m looking at calls that I understand what their seeing. I mean, like I said, the crew we had yesterday is I think one of the better crews in football.”


How did Kenny Phillips play?


“He played pretty well, especially for a guy that had snaps in the preseason, but had been out a while. I would say overall he graded out well.”


Do you think anybody is pressing playing at home or is it just happening the way it is?


“I don’t know that anyone is pressing at home. I said this a year ago this is a different team. You can pick the consecutive games and put it on me, but you can’t put it on this team because it’s a whole different makeup of guys, and yet there are certain things that happen on the road or home or in London, pick a city, and it’s not going to be good if you’re making these mistakes. We have to be able to take advantage of the crowd noise and the momentum. We got that shift towards the end of the half and we were able to get a score to go up 7-3. Then here comes the ball out of their end zone and all of a sudden your approach with a young quarterback with 1:23 will be in two minute, but all of a sudden the kick return takes you to midfield and now you’re going to be in an aggressive two minute.”


How have the substitutions and alignments been generally?


“Generally, that part of it has been pretty smooth. We were in a few different packages, but there is nothing alarming, there is just a pattern. We’re looking on offense to have a tempo to it that’s fast, but generally it’s been fairly smooth being just two regular season games in.”


Are you guys more on guard or differently warning against attitude issues or anything based on facing this early adversity?


“Look these guys are grown men. The coaches go in there and say these are the things we have to pay attention to and these are the things we need to get corrected. I like the makeup of this locker room and the leadership as well. It’s more about the details on the field.”


Akeem Hicks said he got benched yesterday, can you say if that was performance related?


“Yeah, and he wasn’t benched, and I told him we’re going to play some other guys here and that’s what we did.”


Delvin Breaux said the lights affected him. Do the lights in the superdome ever affect the other players?


“Before he gets his eyes up we have a quarterback who was flushed out of the pocket and had seven to eight seconds there before he launches that ball, but we have to be in better position. He was in a position to be able to recover, but when the play got extended it makes it more challenging on the back end. We’re going to defend scrambles, but when you have an inordinate amount of time it becomes real difficult.”


Are the lights in the dome different for a new player like him?


“I mean outside is different than inside, so to some degree.”


Is it strange that it’s never been a problem on the offensive side of the ball, it’s usually the defense end?


“The thing for us is, yeah, obviously it’s frustrating when you feel like you have the ability to score and score quickly. There is one little thing that’s holding you back, but the focus really is on the team and I said this in the staff meeting, we didn’t do a good job of playing complimentary football yesterday. Offensively, we didn’t take advantage of the short fields that we had and conversely we put our defense in a hole defending a short field, but what’s most important is we come in and look at it, we get the things cleaned up and ask if we’re putting our guys in a position to be successful, and that’s the trick.”


Is there ever any overwhelming urge to move personnel around such as Akeem Hicks?


“Well rotating a defense lineman is pretty common. Now if he felt like he was benched then hey, but after we did that we had pretty good production defensively, in fact very good. I think you have to be careful to look closely at all the parts and when you talk about moving a guy, and then we have to look at the structure of our formations. A lot of receivers play in our game, a lot of tight ends, running backs, and a lot of defensive lineman will play. There is not just going to be one guy in there. Now if there is an exception or two that’s fine, but I think if you reach for wholesale changes you can cause yourself a lot of harm by doing that. I think you have to look closely at what it is that kept you from winning the game. Half the time in this league a team loses and the coaching staff comes in Monday and they still don’t know why they lost. We emphasized all week about carrying the ball correctly. Lovie Smith’s defense does a great job of getting to the ball and it came up yesterday. This game, we might have been able to finish in the plus in the turnover margin, but turnovers caused us to finish minus one. The pre snap penalties have to be corrected.”


Is your relationship strong enough with Drew that you can make decisions for the good of the team?


“We have a great relationship. With regards to Drew it would be the same decision regarding Jairus Byrd or Marques Colston or Jahri Evans, but to your point we spoke last night and will keep you posted.”


Did you notice the hit Drew took?

“No, there is a point in the game (when I was told) where I’m talking to Pete (Carmichael) maybe or Joe (Vitt), someone who had a better vantage point than me on that. That’s why it was so important for us to stay balanced with the running game. That was real important.”

Column: It’s a long season, Who Dats

When the 2009 season opened, the Saints were coming off 7-9 and 8-8 campaigns. That was so Saints, right? They followed up 2006’s NFC Championship season (10-6) with back-t0-back stinkers. There was no reason to be overly optimistic. None. But something magical happened. The Saints reeled off 13 straight wins on their way to a 13-3 season and Super Bowl championship.

That magic — the era during which the Saints dominated opponents — is gone. Back then, they scored points in bunches and beat the other team into submission. Today, they have to fight and claw for every yard, every point. There are fewer “stars” on offense and defense. That can be a good thing later. It’s not so good now. During the offseason, the Saints transformed from an old team to a young team, shedding several veterans and adding 25 new players. That’s a lot of new talent to mix into Sean Payton’s formula. My colleague, WDSU sports anchor Fletcher Mackel, says in his latest column the Saints are rebuilding. I disagree. If Drew Brees is gone they’re rebuilding. As long as he’s on the team, which I believe he still is, then the Saints are playing to win. Will it be easy? No. Can it be done? Yes.

The Saints lost to what many consider one of the top teams in the NFC. They didn’t lose to Tampa Bay, which comes to the Superdome this weekend. If that happens, maybe it’s time to get concerned. The Buccaneers looked pathetic in a 42-14 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. The Saints should beat the Bucs, and if they’re serious about this season, they’ll beat them handily.

The defense is young and has several starters out. The offense is trying to find its new identity. A team like this coming together doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen. Will it? Who knows? I do know it’s important to be playing your best football in December and not September. The season is a long one, and this Saints team has a long way to go.

The Saints are coming off a 7-9 season… maybe there’s some magic still to come.







Katrina aftermath: My family’s camp in Mississippi destroyed

This is a story I did one week after Hurricane Katrina while working at WPMI, the NBC affiliate in Mobile. I drove over to my family’s camp in Clermont Harbor, Miss., a place we visited frequently over 25 years. The area near Bay St. Louis was left unrecognizable.

Thornton: Only a few inches separated the Superdome from utter chaos after Katrina

Video: That time when Sharief thought I was Fletcher Mackel

‘Sharknado 3’ viewing party and costume contest — and I’m a judge 


Movie Premiere and Costume Contest


Contact: Will Samuels (504) 872-0731

NEW ORLEANS, LA- July 9, 2015– Will Samuels, co-owner of Lakeview’s Pizza Nola, announced today that the pizzeria will host a viewing party and costume contest for the premiere of the SyFy Channel original movie Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No on Wednesday, July 22, 2015, from 7:00-10pm, at 141 W Harrison.

“The Sharknado films may comprise one of the most important cinematic trilogies of our time,” said Samuels. “At this point, it has become our civic duty as responsible media consumers and as a casual affordably-priced full-service family restaurant to commemorate it accordingly.” Previously, the restaurant has held viewing parties for the first two Sharknado movies, the SyFy epics Ghost Shark and Arachnoquake, and last year’s season premiere of NCIS: New Orleans.

According to SyFy Channel, in Sharknado 3 the entire Eastern seaboard is affected by the “shearing winds of teeth and death” as a Sharknado ravages from Washington, D.C. to Orlando, FL. Once again, Fin (Ian Ziering) and April (Tara Reid) must save the day with the assistance of David Hasselhoff, Bo Derek, Cassie Scerbo, and a host of celebrity cameos (including Mark Cuban as the President, Ann Coulter as the Vice President, and Lou Ferrigno as Secret Service Agent “Banner”) .

 The movie begins at 8pm, preceded at 7pm by a Sharknado costume contest. Celebrity judges include Sharknado experts Scott Walker (news anchor, WDSU-TV), Kevin Allman (Editor, Gambit Weekly), and Allison Kushner (Director, Jewish Community Relations Council, and Sharknado star Ian Ziering’s cousin). Contest prizes include a Sharknado2 screenplay signed by screenwriter Thunder Levin, signed DVDs by the movie’s director, Anthony C. Ferrante, Pizza Nola gift certificates signed by Will Samuels, and other goodies to be determined.

The movie will be projected on a large screen in the pizzeria’s parking lot. Food and drinks will be available for sale from the restaurant, and participants are encouraged to bring blankets and/or folding chairs (no outside food or drinks). The party also will include giveaways and door prizes. The event is free.

Pizza Nola is located at 141 W Harrison Ave in Lakeview and is open daily with dine-in and carryout service as well as delivery to 70124, 70005, UNO and beyond. On Fridays through Sundays, the restaurant offers a full breakfast (including delivery) from Bawk beginning at 7am.

For more information, call Pizza Nola at 504-872-0731, visit the event’s Facebook site at, or visit,, and follow @PizzaNola on Twitter.

That moment when my shoe fell off at the end of the newscast…

My Steve Gleason interview: Parts 1 and 2 together

One-on-one with Steve Gleason (part 2 of 2)

NEW podcast: Scott talks to Jazz trumpeter Jeremy Davenport

One-on-one with Steve Gleason (part 1 of 2)

Breaux Bridge phone book: Dialing up interest since 1949


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