WYES ‘Informed Sources’ Archive at Monroe Library

In 1984, WYES, New Orleans’ public television station, began broadcasting Informed Sources, a program devoted to in-depth discussion of the news by local journalists.  During that first show, a panel of journalists speculated about the reasons for the financial dilemmas of the Louisiana World Exposition, locally known as the World’s Fair.  Now more than two decades later, every Friday night at 7:00 p.m., Louisiana’s newsmen and women continue to speculate, discuss, and examine the news of the week.

The idea for Informed Sources originated in 1971 on WYES with City Desk, a news and talk show, which featured the staff of the New Orleans States-Item and ran for seven seasons.   The station had been without a news program for several years when Marcia Kavanaugh Radlauer, an experienced television reporter and independent producer, was asked to create a new show.  Like City Desk, the format was a panel discussion of current news, but instead of featuring journalists from only one source, a variety of participants from television, radio, newspapers and eventually, online newsletters contributed their talents and expertise.

Informed Sources originally included a “Newsmakers” interview to help fill the half-hour, but before long that segment was omitted.  The panelists could (and did) talk for 30 minutes about newsworthy topics, limited only by the clock and Marcia Radlauer who doubled as producer and moderator.  “The problem,” she said in a 10th anniversary interview, “was getting them to shut up on time.”

Errol Laborde became the program’s producer in 1985, and at about the same time Warren Bell began a two-year stint as moderator.  A tape in 1987 shows auditions for a new moderator.  Dr. Alfred P. “Larry” Lorenz, professor of Journalism at Loyola University, was chosen and since then has been a constant in the moderator’s chair alongside Laborde.  The list of panelists over the years tells the history of New Orleans and Louisiana media.

In fact, watching Informed Sources is studying the modern history of New Orleans.  The issues and personalities are explored before and after every election, and certain topics — crime, education, business, sports, the Legislature — are ongoing.  During each year-end program, “the Saints will go to the playoffs,” is predicted.

For the first 15 years, only a few of all of the Informed Sources tapes were saved.   The celebration of the show’s 15th anniversary on March 12, 1999, must have impressed someone at WYES with its significance.  From that date through the end of 2004, the run of shows is complete.  Fortunately, the tapes were stored in the Loyola Library archives on August 29, 2005 when the high waters  after Hurricane Katrina flooded the WYES facilities and its contents, including the 2005 Informed Sources.  The show began broadcasting again in January 2006, taping shows in facilities at WLAE and Dillard University until repairs to WYES were completed a year later.

The Special Collections & Archives Department of the J. Edgar and Louise S. Monroe Library has the great pleasure of being the archival repository for nearly three decades of Informed Sources episodes. These shows not only provide insight into New Orleans’ current affairs since the 1980s, but they also document changing styles in journalism and broadcasting over time. For more information, please check out the WYES Informed Sources Collection Finding Aid, or stop by Special Collections & Archives Monday through Friday from 9am to 4:30pm. We would be happy to assist you!

Found in the Archives is a recurring series of crazy cool stuff found in the Monroe Library’s Special Collections & Archives.

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