Interview

Former WWL Reporter Ashley Rodrigue talks Broadcast Journalism and her new position with the State Fire Marshal’s Office

For the past thirteen years, native Westbanker Ashley Rodrigue has worked as an on-air reporter for various news outlets such as KFDM in Beaumont, Texas, WBRZ in Baton Rouge and, most recently, WWL-TV right here in New Orleans. She was also the Northshore bureau chief for WWL-TV. Ashley has dedicated herself to tackling the hard-hitting stories and has said that she considered her time in broadcasting more of a public service than a job. Ashley is moving on to a new position as Public Affairs Director for the State Fire Marshall’s Office, and she took the time to tell me a little bit about her journey, growing up on the Westbank, what broadcast journalism means to her, and her new state job.

You grew up on the Westbank. Tell us a little bit about your life before you became a broadcast journalist. Where did you go to school and what were your interests?

Yes! And proud of it! Growing up, my family of 5 lived in the M section of Terrytown and I attended Christ the King Catholic School. I participated in recreational team activities at Terrytown Playground and dedicated several years to competitive gymnastics at Westbank Gymnastics. I then attended Archbishop Blenk High School, where I competed gymnastics for the school, coached at Westbank gymnastics and was part of Archbishop Shaw’s pep squad for 2 years. It’s also, of course, where you and I went to school and graduated together! In the middle of high school, my family moved to Algiers.

I graduated from Blenk in 2001 then headed to LSU where, by 2005, I attained a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication with a Concentration in Broadcast Journalism, along with a minor in Criminal Justice. While at LSU, I had three internships in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Houston. I also worked for the school’s television station, TigerTV.

You are one of the most well-known reporters on WWL and now you are moving on to a new job opportunity. How did you get your start in broadcasting?

My first interest in news came when Bill Capo, a legendary reporter at Channel 4, showed up at my school to cover our mock presidential election. I was hooked from there on out. I dipped my toe in the waters in high school as part of the newspaper staff and spent a few hours shadowing various mediums to decide my direction in the future. After college, I started right away in the WBRZ newsroom in Baton Rouge. After a year there, I headed to KFDM in Beaumont, TX where I would eventually become a weekend anchor/reporter.

A call to come back to WBRZ came four years into my time in Texas, and I answered. By 2012, my dream job to work for WWL-TV approached and I jumped at the chance. It’s been almost six years since and I have been honored to work at the station that I watched as a kid, with news icons I can call colleagues and friends, telling thousands of stories that helped and/or informed thousands of people.

I realize it is not only rare to be able to chase a dream, but more so to achieve it, and I truly am blessed to have done both.

You have always done a fantastic job at covering important stories in our community. Is there one story that you covered that has meant the most to you?

Across my almost 13 years, one single, impactful story is hard to pinpoint. However, I can say that any and every time I’ve covered a story about a fallen military member, whether active duty or veteran, it has imprinted on my mind and my heart. The sacrifices these men and women make, along with their families, aren’t recognized enough before they’re gone. But it is such an amazing sight to see a community rally around and honor those who have served our country, and in particular, those who pay the ultimate sacrifice. I have always considered it a privilege to tell their stories as a way of saying thanks.

What would you tell someone who is interested in entering the world of broadcast journalism?

This is where my well-known bluntness kicks in! If you think the job is about just being on TV and being a “celebrity,” take it off your interest list. Journalism is a cornerstone in our society, one that is needed now more than ever with the open forum provided by social media. In a world where anyone has a platform to say anything unchecked, and where many people believe what they see/read unchecked, it is of utmost importance for journalism to remain accurate, fair, relevant and reliable. Journalism, to me, is not a job, but a public service. So if you’re interested in working hard to inform, educate, help and hold accountable, journalism needs you!

You have been named Public Affairs Director of the State Fire Marshal’s Office. What does the job entail?

My focus will be on promoting fire safety and prevention efforts, serving as a media liaison for operations of the Fire Marshal’s Office and highlighting notable programs and stories from the fire service across the state. I’m really excited to take on a different role in the realm of public service!

About the author

Marielle Songy

Marielle Songy was born and raised on the Westbank and currently resides in Gretna. She is a graduate of Archbishop Blenk High School and UNO. A true Louisiana girl, Marielle enjoys creole food, jazz music and the occasional swamp tour.

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