Don Owen (news anchor)

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Donald Lynn "Don" Owen
Louisiana Public Service Commissioner
In office
January 1, 1985 – December 31, 2002
Preceded by Edward Kennon
Succeeded by Foster Campbell
Personal details
Born 1930
Beggs, Okmulgee County
Oklahoma, USA
Died June 17, 2012 (aged 82)
Resting place Not announced
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Dagmar Oksenholt Owen (married c. 1955-2012, her death)
Children Daryl Hays Owen

Donna Lynn Owen Touchstone
Four grandchildren

Residence Shreveport, Caddo Parish
Louisiana
Occupation KSLA-TV broadcaster

Donald Lynn Owen, or Don Owen (1930 - June 17, 2012), was from 1954 to 1984 the pioneer news anchor at KSLA-TV, the CBS affiliate and the first television station in Shreveport in northwestern Louisiana, a position which gave him a high degree of regional name identification. From 1985 to 2002. Owen was one of the five members of the Louisiana Public Service Commission, an elected regulatory body over utilities rates and common carriers.[1]

Broadcaster[edit]

A native of Beggs in Okmulgee County in east central Oklahoma, Owen as a teenager contracted polio, which impacted him for the rest of his life.[2] The viewing public was mostly unaware that Owen wore a leg brace.[3]

Owen's first position in broadcasting was at a radio station in Ada in Pontotoc County in southern Oklahoma. In 1953, he joined KFDX-TV, the NBC station in Wichita Falls, Texas. By January 1954, when he was still twenty-three, he accepted a position as an announcer for KSLA, which had been on the air only fifteen days when Owen arrived in town.[4]

KSLA broadcast from the basement of the former Washington Youree Hotel in downtown Shreveport at the location of what became Hibernia Bank. For a few weeks, Owen presented weather information but soon switched to news.[4] His colleague Al Bolton, a native of Alexandria, a graduate of Louisiana College in Pineville, and a United States Navy veteran of both World War II and the Korean War, joined KSLA a month after the station opened and assumed long-term duties as the weather reporter, a position also with unclear duties at the beginning. Bolton remained the meteorologist until May 1991, when he began a ten-year association with KRMD radio before his retirement. Bolton received the "Seal of Certification" from the National Weather Association in 1982 for "performance well above the media and meteorological standards". Bolton was similarly honored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.[5]

Bob Griffin was the station's long-term sportscaster and hosted a number of local programs, Bob and His Buddies and What's News?, and remains a media personality in Shreveport as he reaches the age of eighty. In a 1964 interview with the since defunct Shreveport Journal, which under the president and publisher Douglas F. Attaway, once owned KSLA, Owen explained that because he had always been interested in the news, he committed at an early age to become a broadcaster. At first he announced eleven half-hour programs per week, including the commercial minutes, and there were no retakes available if the broadcast was inferior.[4]

As KSLA's only news director for three decades, he set the standard in Shreveport television news, recalls Semmie Buffin, the chief KSLA photographer of long standing and an African American.[4] In October 1967, Owen hired Nita Fran Hutcheson, later a chamber of commerce official in her native Texarkana, Texas,[6] as the first female reporter in Shreveport television. Hutcheson recalls that Owen was highly protective of the trust that he had developed from his long-term viewers.[4] A local columnist once called him "the Walter Cronkite of the Shreveport media market," a reference to the CBS anchorman from 1962 until 1981.[3] Owen also hired Margaret Pelley of NBC's Dateline, Roseanne Colletti, who went on to report for WNBC-TV, as well as local figures Wray Post, Tom and Barry Irwin, Carl Pendley, and Tony Taglavore.[4]

Owen was a past president of the Louisiana and Mississippi AP Broadcasters and the Louisiana/Mississippi United Press International. In 1963, 1964, and 1965, the Associated Press named him "Broadcaster of the Year". Some of his articles on a variety of topics were published in Shreveport Magazine.[2]

Public Service Commission[edit]

When Edward Kennon stepped down after two six-year terms on the Public Service Commission, originally known as the Louisiana Railroad Commission. The body was expanded during Kennon's tenure from three to five members representing single-member districts of equal population. A Democrat, Owen entered the race to succeed Kennon and was elected in 1984, 1990, and 1996. In 1990, he defeated an Independent candidate named "Charlie Brown", 179,712 (78.4 percent) to 49,385 (21.6 percent).[7]

In 1993, Owen declared electric co-operatives to be "the greatest impediment to the economic well-being of Louisiana." The statement drew opposition from his PSC colleague, future Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Lafayette, who concluded that many co-ops are well-managed and offer lower prices to consumers. Owen said that the co-ops could never generate enough revenue to repay the money invested in them by the Rural Electrification Administration.[8][9]

In 1996, in a near image of the 1990 results, Owen defeated another Independent, James "Jim" Crowley of Shreveport, a former Caddo Parish police juror, 142,799 votes (74.5 percent) to 49,018 (25.6 percent).[10]

In 2002, Owen was narrowly unseated by then State Senator Foster Campbell, a fellow Democrat from Bossier Parish, who still holds this seat on the regulatory commission. In the 24-parish district, Campbell received 123,749 votes (50.7 percent) to Owen's 120,413 (49.3 percent).[11] In 2008, Jim Crowley ran unsuccessfully against Campbell, as he had sixteen years earlier against Owen.[12]

Foster Campbell ran for governor in 2007 but lost to Republican Bobby Jindal. Four governors served on the Public Service Commission; three, Huey Pierce Long, Jr., Jimmie Davis, and John McKeithen, went directly to the governorship, and another, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, went from the PSC to lieutenant governor and then to governor.[13]

Death and legacy[edit]

Owen succumbed of pneumonia on Father's Day 2012. His Danish-American wife, the former Dagmar Oksenholt, a Shreveport native, died four months before Owen's death. The Owens leave behind their son, Daryl Hays Owen (born 1956), and his wife, the former Ellen L. Berger, of McLean, Virginia; daughter, Donna Lynn Touchstone (born 1959) and husband, Shreveport businessman Jack Robert Touchstone, Jr. (born 1951), and four grandchildren. Donna Touchstone was formerly married to Clyde J. Carr.[14] Jack Touchstone is the son of the late Kathryn Stearns and Jack Touchstone, Sr. (1925-2014) of Shreveport.[15] Don Owen's funeral services were private.[2]

Daryl Owen is an attorney/lobbyist who in 1991 founded Daryl Owen Associates, a government relations and strategic consulting firm. Considered an expert in energy policy, Owen began his career in Washington, D.C., as an aide and then chief of staff to former U.S. Senator J. Bennett Johnston, Jr., a Shreveport Democrat.[16] Daryl Owen recalls his father's pioneer journalism, accordingly:

There was no rulebook, there were no guidelines. They had to make it up on the fly, what the ethics were, how to deal with some of the greater issues of the day. They had to desegregate the newsroom. They put the first black anchor on the air. He pioneered the industry.[2]

On his 75th birthday in 2005, the Douglas Manship School of Communication at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge honored Owen with the establishment of a scholarship in his name in the fields of media and politics.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "About the Louisiana Public Service Commission". lpsc.louisiana.gov. Retrieved August 23, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d "John Andrew Prime, "Don Owen, news veteran, former PSC member, dies", June 17, 2012". Shreveport Times. Retrieved July 2, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c "Nancy Cook, "Shreveport pioneer newsman dies"". arklatexhomepage.com. Retrieved July 2, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Carolyn Roy, "Longtime KSLA anchor and news director Don Owen passes away"". KSLA-TV. Retrieved July 2, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Albert Martin Bolton". The Shreveport Times, April 6, 2014. Retrieved April 7, 2014. 
  6. ^ ""Hutcheson retiring from Main Street Texarkana post effective May 31," May 2, 2012". Texarkana Gazette. Retrieved July 2, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Primary election returns, October 6, 1990". staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved July 2, 2012. 
  8. ^ Bonnie Koskie, "Certain officials disagree with Owen's views", Minden Press-Herald, September 3, 1993, p. 1
  9. ^ "Owen: High cost of co-op nelectricity stunts growth", Minden Press-Herald, September 5, 1993, p. 1
  10. ^ "Primary election returns, September 21, 1996". staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved July 2, 2012. 
  11. ^ "General election returns, November 5, 2002". staticresults.sos.la.gov. Retrieved July 2, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Races on the October 4 (2008) Ballot". KSLA-TV. Retrieved August 23, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Scott Angelle running for PSC; Position has been a springboard to the governor’s mansion, 2012". techetoday.com. Retrieved August 23, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Dagmar Owen obituary". Shreveport Times, February 14, 2012. Retrieved July 10, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Jack Touchstone". The Shreveport Times. Retrieved May 16, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Daryl Owen Associates, Inc.". owendc.com. Retrieved July 10, 2012. 
Preceded by
Edward Kennon
Louisiana Public Service Commissioner

Donald Lynn "Don" Owen
1985–2002

Succeeded by
Foster Campbell