Sunday, May 20, 2012

Leon Petite: In His Own Words

Once upon a time in the world of local television news, a group of people came together under one newsroom roof and something akin to magic happened.

We became family.

We lived together in the 'house' known as WKRG-TV. Like many families, some members came and went-- always leaving their handprint on our hearts. Others were in the mix for the long haul--committed to not only covering local news with integrity, responsibility and hard work---but also with a lot of fun! Laughter was a staple in 'our house.'

One of those long-haul, and most beloved, family members was a somewhat shy, breathtakingly honest, highly-principled, all-around-good-guy named Leon Petite. I've been writing a lot about Leon in recent days, because not only was he special to his WKRG family, he became special to thousands of people in south Alabama and beyond, as he covered news in their communities with compassion, ethics, and quite often with his unique down-home humor.

There's nothing funny about the battle Leon finds himself in today. Like too many others, he is fighting the beast we know as "Cancer." His surgery for osteosarcoma was last week. Before his surgery he sat down with me to share his thoughts on his diagnosis, his outlook for the future, his concern for others with this disease, and his faith in God. This is the first part of that conversation.

I hear that, as corporate America marches on, the "newsroom magic" that the WKRG gang of the 1980's and 1990's experienced doesn't happen too often these days. It makes what we had, and the people who became, and forever will be, a part of our lives even more cherished.

Leon is one of those people. He had something important to say back then. He has something important to say today. Please listen, and say a prayer for Leon.


  1. Please tell Leon that I am keeping him in my thoughts and prayers as he goes through this ordeal. The long term survival rate for this type of cancer, I've learned by reading up a bit on it, is very promising if the disease is caught and treated early, and aggressively. I sincerely hope that is true in this case. There has been a lot of cancer in my family, and among my friends, so I understand a bit of what's happening here. I hope that his faith, and the love and support of his friends and family will give him strength to endure whatever is ahead. I had the pleasure of working with Leon during the years that WKRG was indeed a family. Always a great guy. Wishing him and his loved ones well.

  2. Very well said Drexel. Wishing Leon and his family nothing but the best!


  3. oh, I do pray things go well for him! I don't know Leon, but I recognize his name. The scenario you describe reminds me very much of when I worked at the CBS affiliate in Baton Rouge--WAFB-9. I started as a student intern and then was hired as a production asst, and for the 18 mos I was was there, it was a laughing good time. Everyone got along so great and there was a real sense of family among the crew. I was sorry to leave. But I understand how it would feel for one of them to be in a health crisis. Prayers for you, too! :o) <3 xoxo

  4. Praying for Leon and his family, admire his faith and conviction. God is in control no matter what happens! Leon is a special person his smiling face was a welcome sight coming by the bakery I worked at a few years ago, he loved my carrot cake!

  5. Drexel,thanks so much for providing this opportunity to connect with Leon, and thanks also for posting the excellent and very moving "In His Own Words" interview.

    Leon, this is Mike Rowan. You might remember me from WKRG, "back in the day". I just wanted to tell you that I am pulling for you and praying for you and your loved ones. Although it sounds like your cancer experience will be tougher than mine was, I can tell you have exactly the right spirit and attitude needed to deal with it. Stay strong, be patient and try to keep plenty of faith, hope and love in your heart as you move forward with this difficult and ultra-challenging ordeal.

    Best wishes always,