WLAE-TV New Orleans – The Year of the Elephant


Ron Yager

Vice President / General Manager,


The Year of the Elephant

2016 was supposed to be a rather quiet year for WLAE. Our team was going to produce a couple of documentaries, launch a new studio project or two and hopefully win a few awards. Well, all of those things did happen, but the unexpected news that we received in February dominated the majority of our time, efforts and resources throughout the year. WLAE was notified that after sixteen years at our Causeway location that our lease was being terminated. We were given only 120 days to find a new home and relocate an entire TV studio facility and broadcast operation. With an extensive background in live television, I am usually pretty calm in pressure situations, but this bombshell gave me cold sweats and kept me up late many sleepless nights. I was involved in moving WLAE back in 1999 and we had over a year to plan our exit strategy and relocation. Four months is a very short timeframe, but we had no choice.

It is hard to imagine all of the complexities that go into putting a television signal on the air, from the satellite dishes and transmission links, to the programming automation systems and production operations, these all had to move. Thousands of feet of wire alone had to be severed and then re-connected. This was a daunting task and quite a challenge, to say the least, but I knew that our folks could handle it. I saw the resiliency in our staff after Katrina and how we rebuilt the station in the aftermath of the storm, so I knew that we could do it again.

As I look back over the year, I am proud to say that we did it! We found a new TV facility location in Elmwood, relocated our master control operations, built a new studio set and restored all of our transmission connections and links. It was not easy and of course we had a few bumps along the way, but throughout the entire process we never went off of the air and kept true to our mission in serving the public with content that educates, informs and inspires. Thanks to everyone with WLAE and Willwoods who was involved in the move of the TV station…your efforts were outstanding and exemplary!

Throughout the entire ordeal, I appreciated the reminder that eating an elephant can only be done one way: one bite at a time. Trying to gulp it down in one sitting is asking for severe indigestion. The best way to accomplish something big is to approach it in smaller pieces and that’s exactly what we did and how we successfully completed this project.

Happy Viewing!