Mark Klein - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Mark Klein

Mark Klein 

Show Host/Features Reporter

mklein@kalb.com

Louisiana College Convergence Media senior Mark Klein has the passion to tell a story. In fact, he is winning awards for it. 

When the Louisiana Associated Press announced its 2014 awards for excellence in broadcasting in June, Klein, a graduate of Central High School in Baton Rouge, was awarded first place for his “Down Home Louisiana” segment on an Avoyelles Parish radio station that aired on Alexandria's NBC affiliate, KALB. 

Klein, whose award came in the “best feature” category of Class B market sizes, was the only journalist recognized – who is still a college student. AP awards typically go to full-time broadcast professionals and are highly coveted by those professionals. Klein's winning segment spotlighted radio station KLIL in Moreauville and the Saturday morning “Greaser” oldies music show with disc jockey Louis Coco. 

“I was incredibly excited, I felt like I was a champ,” Klein said. “I didn't know if we had a chance or not because I had seen the work other stations in the state had done.” 

“Down Home Louisiana” is a weekly feature that Klein produces for KALB along with the assistance of news director Keith Weiss, who serves as the executive producer for the segment. It was Weiss who initially discovered Klein when doing a story about the then-high school student's musical abilities. Weiss was impressed with Klein's stage presence enough to offer him the chance to do some “junior” reporting and anchoring work for KALB. 

Much of that work was another weekly segment, “Weekend Drive,” where Klein, with the help of Weiss, would spotlight interesting or fun places to visit – all within driving distance of Central Louisiana. Reflective of his musical talents, Klein even wrote the catchy jingle for the segment. 

However, as Klein began to mature both in age and talent, “Weekend Drive” had run its course, and the duo began looking for a new vehicle through which to tell stories. By that time, Klein was in his sophomore year at Louisiana College after coming to the school mostly to continue to his employment opportunities at KALB. 

“Originally, I came because of the prospects of a job,” Klein said. “But I stayed because I fell in love with the campus and the idea of going to college where my values were valued.” 

Klein had seen himself growing both professionally and spiritually at LC, but it was the lessons he was learning in his Television Reporting class taught by former KALB anchor and LC professor Al Quartemont that really brought the “ah-ha” moment for Klein. 

“Our class often studied the reporting work of the award-winning Boyd Huppert of KARE-TV in Minneapolis, Minnesota,” Quartemont said. “I could see in class that Huppert's style of storytelling – focusing on the people of Minnesota – was hitting home with Mark. It was just a matter of him connecting that approach to his own storytelling.” 

While filming a “Weekend Drive” segment on Oakland Plantation in Natchitoches Parish, Klein found himself more drawn to the story of the plantation's tour guide, a man named Elvin Shields and decided to produce a story on the elderly gentleman for his class. It was then that Klein's storytelling took a dramatic shift – focusing not so much on places but on the people in those places. 

“People relate to other people more than they do places,” Klein said. “It was the chance to challenge myself to create better stories and to connect better with viewers by sharing their stories.”

And that's how “Down Home Louisiana” was born. 

As Klein enters his senior year at LC, he will look to cap what has been an accomplished career both in and out of class. Klein, along with fellow senior Kendyl Burnette, has anchored and produced the “Wildcat Weekly Update” segments that are shown before each Thursday's LC chapel services. He has been the student general manager for campus radio station KZLC for the past two years. This summer, he and Convergence Media junior Miranda Quartemont spent two weeks in Oxford, England as part of the National Religious Broadcasters Distinguished Scholars term. 

Klein continues to work at KALB in the promotions department, and on top of all that, he continues to follow another passion – music – as part of a musical group, The Side Men. Here, Klein gets to display some of the musical lessons he learned while touring for several years with the well-known swamp pop group from Eunice, Louisiana - The Boogie Kings. 

And yet, despite all that, Klein said that he has come to gain something above all the awards and performances during his time at LC – a closer relationship with his Savior, Jesus Christ. It's that relationship, he said, that is giving him a greater focus when it comes to using his talents – whether they be on television, in the classroom, or in performing musically. 

“The profession of journalism can best be defined as the ongoing search for truth,” Klein said. “ As a Christian journalist, we want to tell the pure story as it is. Although, the camera can't capture everything and see the world as God sees it, seeing the world as a Christian, allows us to see it with an honest perspective and present it to the world. 

“I think it's fun to go out and find a story that isn't easy to find – the things going on in the background and telling those stories that make people happy when they see them. I'm open to wherever The Lord wants to take me. As long as I'm in the company of good people, I'll be happy.”

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