The Indiana Broadcasters Association is celebrating diversity in our industry with a series of panel conversations throughout the month of June. Each Wednesday this month, a new conversation related to diversity in TV and radio will debut on IndianaBroadcasters.org. The four-part series aims to address issues and provide solutions to make broadcasting in Indiana more inclusive.
“Once you have dialogue starting, you know you can break down prejudice” – Harvey Milk:
A Conversation with LGBTQ Broadcasters in Indiana
Journalist – WXIN-TV
Sherman Burdette was born and raised in Indianapolis and is a graduate of IPS School #43, Broad Ripple High School. He’s also a graduate of Ball State University in telecommunications and theatre. Sherman is a two-time Emmy Award winning veteran who has worked all aspects of the newsroom from editing and producing, to the anchor desk in stations around the country. Currently, he’s the guy who lets you know what’s happening around Indy and around Indiana in his “Where is Sherman” features on FOX59 Morning News! He’s also the guy who puts those “As Seen on TV” products to the test to see how they really work on “Does it Work” Wednesday!
Digital News Operations – WPTA-TV
Kayla Crandall oversees all digital news operations at WPTA and Fort Wayne’s NBC. As a digital journalist and newsroom leader, Kayla uses social media, analytics and new technology trends to guide her team. She joined the ABC and NBC affiliate in 2015 as an intern and was later hired on as a producer. Kayla now serves as the Social Media and Digital Content Manager. She earned a regional Emmy award for best weekend newscast in 2019, and was recently honored with a regional Murrow award for her contributions to the ABC21 Daily podcast. Kayla holds a dual degree in Journalism & Telecommunications from Ball State University.
Anchor – WPTA-TV
Tom Powell currently anchors Fort Wayne’s NBC News at 5, 6 and 11. Prior to his role in Fort Wayne, he spent nearly five years as the driving force behind the success of South Bend’s FOX28 News at 10. A 2001 graduate of the University of Illinois, Tom emcees the LGBT Dinner Dance each year, an event that highlights the important work done by the hard-working staff and volunteers at the Positive Resource Connection in Fort Wayne.
Host – WYXB Radio
Prior to becoming a Hoosier, Sean Copeland hosted mornings in Tulsa, afternoons in Dayton and St. Louis, and served as part of two network morning shows. For the last decade, he has hosted mornings on B105.7 in Indianapolis. Additionally, he is the station’s program director and a licensed mental health therapist. Sean and his husband Andy live in the Irvington Historic District on Indy’s east side.
“When you have people together who believe in something – things happen” – Cesar Chavez:
A Conversation with Latino Broadcasters in Indiana
Rafael Sanchez – Host
Journalist – WRTV-TV
Rafael Sanchez is a Murrow and multiple Emmy award-winning Investigative Reporter at RTV6. He’s also the co-anchor of “Good Morning Indiana” and lead field anchor on breaking news and political coverage. Rafael came to the Hoosier State from the Bronx, N.Y. to attend Franklin College of Indiana where he triple majored in Journalism, Political Science, and Spanish.
Reporter – WISH-TV
Born in Colombia where her grandfather was an award-winning journalist, Camila Fernandez grew up in Miami and graduated from Florida International University. She worked at WMDT-TV in Maryland before coming to WISH-TV in Indianapolis where she is now a bilingual journalist who also is hosting a Spanish language podcast “La VoZ Latina en Indiana”
Randy Del Valle
Producer – WPTA-TV
Randy Del Valle is a producer at WPTA-TV in Ft Wayne. Randy graduated from Quinnipiac University in May 2019 with a B.A. in Journalism and a minor in Sports Studies. Randy serves as the producer of Fort Wayne’s NBC News Today and produces the station’s bilingual podcast “La Perspectiva Latina.”
“I believe that the influence of woman will save the country before every other power” – Lucy Stone
A Conversation with Women Broadcasters in Indiana
Merry Ewing – Host
Vice President/General Manager – WPTA-TV
Merry Ewing is the Vice President and General Manager of WPTA/WISE-TV in Ft. Wayne. She is currently the TV Vice Chair of the Indiana Broadcasters Association Board of Directors. Merry earned degrees from Butler University and Xavier University and worked in sales at stations in Ohio, West Virginia and California before coming back to Indiana as General Manager of WSJV in South Bend. She has served in her current role for five years and for the last three years, WPTA has been recognized with a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for achievement in broadcast journalism.
Anchor/Journalist – WFFT-TV
Brianna Dahlquist is an anchor and multimedia journalist at FOX 55 in Fort Wayne. Brianna is from Palm Beach, Florida and a 2019 graduate from Georgia State University where she majored in Journalism with a minor in English.
Anchor – WLFI-TV
Samantha Thieke is an anchor at WLFI-TV in Lafayette. She started at WLFI in 2013 as a multi-platform journalist before moving to the anchor desk. Samantha was born and raised in Kokomo and graduated from Indiana University Kokomo in December 2013.
Owner – WSLM Radio
Becky White owns Salem Media which operates WSLM 97.9 FM, WSLM 1220 AM and WRLW TV 17. The family-owned and operated business is in its 68th year. She became the first female owner of a radio station in the Kentuckiana market (if not all of Indiana) in 1992 and followed that up as Indiana’s first female TV station owner in 1994. Also, in 1990, Becky also became one of Indiana’s first female Rotarians and the first in Kentuckiana.
Anchor – WXIN-TV
Beairshelle Edmé anchors FOX 59’s First At 4 anchor and Newspoint at 11 while also reporting on various matters ranging from politics, law, and education. Prior to joining FOX59, Beairshelle worked as a weekend morning anchor for WNCN-TV in Raleigh, North Carolina. A native of Philadelphia, Beairshelle is an alumna of Loyola University Maryland. She is also a member of the National Association of Black Journalists.
Host – WIBC Radio
Miriam Weaver is the co-host of the Mock ‘n Rob show on WIBC in Indianapolis which airs on weekdays from 9a-12pm. She is the co-founder of the Chicks on the Right website/brand, and the co-host of the Chicks on the Right podcast produced by Radio America. She also is an author and has appeared on national TV and syndicated radio programs. She is a graduate of University of Kansas with a degree in psychology. She spent her prior career working in Human Resources.
Engineer – WICR Radio
Jeanette Rhodes is a native of Indianapolis, Indiana who studied at Ben Davis High School, University of Indianapolis, and Ivy Tech College. She started her Radio/TV career master control operator with WAV TV53, now known as WDNI-TV Telemundo and has worked for Indianapolis PBS station, WFYI, Clear Channel now known as iHeart Media Radio. Radio One, WRTV Television Channel 6, and was the Chief Engineer for Cumulus Media Radio. Now she is the Director of Engineering for the University of Indianapolis WICR 88.7 FM/HD Radio.
“Nothing Can Be Changed Until It Is Faced” – James Baldwin:
A Conversation with African American Broadcasters in Indiana
Deon Levingston – Host
Anchor – WXIN/WTTV TV
Nick McGill is an Anchor for Fox 59 and CBS 4. He graduated in 2012 from Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, where he studied Mass Communication and Political Science. He spent two years at an NBC affiliate in Toledo and another two years at KUSA-TV in Denver.
REGIONAL VICE PRESIDENT – RADIO ONE
Deon Levingston is the Regional Vice President for Radio One in Indianapolis and the Midwest. A graduate of Howard University, Deon was a local sales manager at stations in North Carolina and WTLC in Indianapolis. He then became Director of Sales rising to VP Market Manager during his first stint at Radio One. For nine year, Deon worked at YMF Media including as President before taking a role of SVP and Market Manager for Emmis Communications in New York for two years. Since 2016, he has served in his current role at Radio One.
Multicultural Reporter – WISH TV
Katiera Winfrey is WISH-TV’s first Multicultural Reporter. She spent several years growing up in Indianapolis and is a graduate North Central High school. In the last decade, Katiera’s career has taken her to several Texas cities, Oklahoma, and most recently Allentown, Pennsylvania. Katiera is a graduate of one of the largest historically black colleges and universities, Texas Southern University, and a member of the National Association of Black Journalists.
Talk Show Host – Emmis Communications
Abdul Shabazz is an attorney and Of Counsel at the law firm of Lewis and Wilkins in Indianapolis. He also is he editor and publisher of IndyPolitics.org and weekend talk show host on WIBC in Indianapolis. For seven years, he hosted “Abdul in the Mornings” on WXNT-AM. Prior to coming to Indianapolis, Abdul hosted a morning radio talk show in Springfield, IL. He has also been a television and radio reporter in Central and Northern Illinois. Abdul holds a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield and a law degree from St. Louis University.