Lenise Ligon – Daily Dot Com

I met Oprah!!! And I lost it…

September 15th, 2010 at 3:40 pm by under FOX10 News, Lenise Ligon - Daily Dot Com, Sarah Wall - Monday Moms, Uncategorized

I mean I lost it.

So, as many of you know, I attended a taping of The Oprah Show in Chicago.

No, it wasn’t that show—the show where the audience members got a surprise trip to Australia.  No, the show I attended was taped September 8, 2010.  But I ended up with a little surprise, too.

I was so excited when I got the email about the tickets.  Right away I called my mother and sister and told them, “We’re going to see Oprah for her Farewell Season!”

We only had about two weeks to book our flights and hotel.  My mother and sister were traveling from Detroit, and I was flying out of Pensacola.  I really didn’t think we would all make it.

But actually, we found flights at a reasonable price and arrived in Chicago the night before the taping.  That entire night I had butterflies in my tummy.  I was just so anxious.  I was hours away from being in the presence of a woman that I have admired and respected for so many years.

According to our tickets we had to be at Harpo Studios by 11:00 a.m.

We took a taxi and as hyper-excited as I was, I had the nerve to stop by my favorite coffee shop and get a Grande Soy Caramel Macchiato.  Exactly

Needless to say, when we pulled up in front of Harpo Studios, my heart was about to jump out of my chest.

There was a long line of people waiting to get inside.  Over 300 people were there.

It was such a good vibe.  Everyone was just so happy to be there, from the staff to the studio audience; everyone was sharing their favorite Oprah stories and saying how much the show would be missed.

No cameras were allowed inside.  In fact, I had to check my entire purse until after the taping.

We were called into the studio and with each step I took, the pounding in my chest grew louder.  We were escorted to our seats, and I thought I was going to pass out.

We had absolutely amazing seats.

We were seated on the right side of the floor, and in the third row!

So when Oprah came out, she walked right past ME!!!.

I remember how quiet it was right before she came out.  Up until that point, the place was vibrating with music, laughter, and a bit of hysteria from the people who got the front row seats.

But when they announced that Oprah was making her way into the studio, a silence fell over the room.

With just one footstep into the room, there was an eruption of applause.

She made her way to the stage and walked right by my seat.  See, I was sitting on the end of the row.

I remember seeing her shaking everyone’s hand, and then I remember feeling this ball of emotion.  It started in my gut then worked up to my throat.

When she reached my seat and extended her hand to me, I lost it.  I completely lost my cool and, to be honest, that’s where it all becomes a blur.

I must have blacked out, because I don’t really remember much.  My mother tells me I dropped down into my seat, started crying hysterically, and fanning myself.

She reached over to tell me to get up, because apparently at that point Oprah was trying to give me a hug.  I just kept shaking and crying, so eventually Oprah continued  toward the stage.

“Lenise, Lenise, you have to calm down…just breathe,” my mother told me.  It registered.

When Oprah got to the stage, she thanked us all for being there.  Then, she proceeded to tell us a story about how she just loved the Mary Tyler Moore Show when she was a teenager.

Oprah said that she watched the show religiously.  She said one day, she finally met her heroine and, “went right into the ugly cry, snot coming out of the nose and all.”

That’s when she turned to me and said, “I guess I’m your Mary Tyler Moore.”

If only she knew.  I have been watching Oprah since high school, admiring her interviewing skills, compassion, and humility.  Maybe she did know.

When she reached out to me, I’ve never been so taken…even now I am getting tears in my eyes just replaying the image in my mind.

I couldn’t handle all the emotions.  Thank goodness my mother and sister were there to help me keep my feet on the ground, because I was out of my skin with joy.

Once everyone was calm and in their seats, we began taping the segment.  The topic of the show was Modern Families, so appropriately they had the cast of “Modern Family” as the guests: Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, and Ty Burrell.

Time flew.  Before I knew it, Oprah was saying thank you to the cast members and asking the studio audience if they enjoyed the show.

She took a lot questions from the audience.  One woman asked if she ever felt like giving up in her career…someone else asked what would happen to Harpo Studios…and another person wanted to know her middle name.

She said, she’s never felt like giving up because she has always followed her true calling, which was to be a teacher.  Regarding Harpo Studios she said it would still remain a production house and her middle name is Gail.  I know quite the coincidence considering her best friend is also named Gayle, just spelled differently.

But she really opened up when one woman thanked Oprah for the profound impact that she’s had on American culture and congratulated her on winning the Kennedy Center Honor.

Oprah Winfrey, Paul McCartney, Merle Haggard, Jerry Herman, and Bill T. Jones will be this year’s recipients.

Oprah got really smitten when she talked about sitting next to Paul McCartney—a man she says, she always thought she would marry.

It was cute, seeing her so awestruck, especially since I was so awestricken by her.

And she must have felt my thoughts because that’s when she turned to me and asked, “Have you calmed down yet?”  I nodded my head and said I was just trying to breathe like my mother told me.

AND CAN YOU BELIEVE SHE CALLED ME UP ON THE STAGE!!!!

I almost lost it again.  I just kept telling myself you’re wearing 5 inch heels; you do not want to fall.

I couldn’t speak.  It was completely surreal!

I was on stage with OPRAH!!!  She told me I looked nice and that she liked the orange sweater I was wearing—that it was a good color for me.  She said, you smell good, too… and my response to all of that …”Oh I showered.”  Oh. My. Goodness.

I finally meet the one person I have regarded with such admiration and all I could say was “I showered.”    She was really sweet though and very kind; she just hugged my waist and said, “Here let’s take a picture.”   My mother later told me I was smiling so hard that my cheeks were up to my eyes and that she didn’t think I could see.  She told me that she knew I really, really liked Oprah but she didn’t think I would cry.

My picture with Oprah came in the mail yesterday.  Looking at it brings back such a rush of happiness.

I wanted to include it in this blog but because of copyright laws, I am not allowed.

The picture is framed and will be sitting on my desk to remind me of Oprah’s advice that day:  “We are all called here by a greater energy force; for me that energy force is God.  We all have a purpose; find yours and be the best.”

September 8, 2010.  Honestly, it’s a day I’ll never forget.

Who will fill that seat now?  That’s the question circulating the web.  But if you ask me, no one can replace Oprah.   She’s truly one of a kind.

The episode airs September 29th.  Be sure to tune in, and let me know if you see me in the audience.


SEEDS Classic Rock 5K

March 8th, 2010 at 2:22 pm by under FOX10 News, Lenise Ligon - Daily Dot Com, Sarah Wall - Monday Moms, Uncategorized

Happy Monday everyone.

I am so excited.  I ran my first race this past weekend.  I didn’t pace myself very well, but overall I’m told I did ok.

SEEDS Classic Rock

This was all part of the SEEDS Classic Rock 5K and 1 mile Run.  It kicked off Saturday morning, March, 6 from Daphne City Hall.

Organizers say 314 people signed up to participate in the 5K.  And more than 1100 people registered for the 1 mile fun run.  The event benefits SEEDS, Daphne’s educational enrichment foundation.   Early estimates show between $18,000 – $20,000 was raised.

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For those of you who don’t know, a 5K is roughly 3.1 miles.  The course was rather generous.  It stretched through Olde Towne Daphne on a mostly flat surface.  The weather was beautiful!

I will get to how I finished in a moment.  But first I want to tell you how this all started.

If you ask any of my friends, they will tell you “Lenise is a yogi at heart.”   That’s absolutely true.

I fell in love with Bikram Yoga while living in Charlotte.  But when I moved to the gulf coast, I couldn’t find a studio here that offered Hot yoga classes.  That’s when I decided to give running a try.

That minute interest led to a pronounced desire to complete a 1/2 marathon.   So I found a marathon, went online to register, but couldn’t because I didn’t have any “qualifying times.”

Which brings me to the SEEDS Classic Rock 5K.  Our 5:00 p.m. producer is also a runner.  She gave me some help on how to pick a race and showed this great website (www.active.com/running/) on where to find races in your area.  And the rest as they say, is well… history.


It typically takes me about 28 minutes to run 3 miles.  But I ran the first mile in 7:47 –so I ended up finishing in 33:35, place 223.

Certainly not my goal but it was my first race and now I know not to overcook it, so I don’t burn out at the end.


It was a great experience and I am soooo looking forward to the next one.

********** AWARDS LIST ************

********** FEMALE OVERALL RESULTS ***********

1 JENNY ALBRECHT-BLUE JAY     33 GRAND BAY       AL   19:45  6:22

********** MALE OVERALL RESULTS ***********

1 JON BOWIE                   36 DAPHNE          AL   16:27  5:18

********** FEMALE MASTERS OVERALL RESULTS **********

1 LINDA KASCH                 46 DAPHNE          AL   21:18  6:52

********** MALE MASTERS OVERALL RESULTS **********

1 BILL HIXON                  45 FAIRHOPE        AL   19:39  6:20

******* FEMALE GRAND MASTERS OVERALL RESULTS *******

1 MELANIE MOORE               58 MOBILE          AL   22:32  7:15

******* MALE GRAND MASTERS OVERALL RESULTS *******

1 DAVID C JEFFREY             67 SEMMES          AL   20:01  6:27

******* FEMALE SENIOR GRAND MASTERS OVERALL RESULTS *******

1 CAY WELSH                   60 MOBILE          AL   29:35  9:32

******* MALE SENIOR GRAND MASTERS OVERALL RESULTS *******

1 MARSHALL MCMILLAN           60 MOBILE          AL   23:32  7:35


Flying dinosaurs?

January 25th, 2010 at 9:50 pm by under FOX10 News, Lenise Ligon - Daily Dot Com, Uncategorized

Dinosaurs have invaded downtown Mobile…or at least…the Gulf Coast Exploreum.

Dinosaurs before it extinction

Dinosaurs before it extinction

“Dinosaurs Alive” is the newest exhibit at the Exploreum.   If you haven’t checked it out yet, you definitely should.  I went this past weekend with my husband and three-year-old son.  We had a blast!

Here's my son roaring like a dinosaur!

Here's my son roaring like a dinosaur!

It truly is a full-sensory exhibit.  I’m talking life-size creatures, some flying overhead, in jungle foliage that’s completed with waterfall.    Just think Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park.

Now, I didn’t realize the exhibit was actually outside.  So you’ll want to keep that in mind when planning your visit.

It was raining on the day we went.  So we saw the IMAX movie first.  By the time the movie was over, it had stopped raining so it worked out well.  Plus, we got a nice lesson on dinosaurs…IMAX style.  Seriously, no matter how many times I see these movies, I’m always amazed.  But getting back to the movie, it basically followed paleontologists as they explored dinosaur finds.

This is the outdoor courtyard where the exhibit is

This is the outdoor courtyard where the exhibit is

I had no idea birds were a direct descendant of dinosaurs.  It’s one of the things discussed in the film.  Along with, how dinosaurologists (I think I just created a new word) aren’t sure how dinosaurs communicated, the sounds they made, or for that matter…what color they were.

The exhibit runs through May.  If you go, be sure to let me know what you think.


Fun, new iPhone app

December 11th, 2009 at 4:40 pm by under FOX10 News, Lenise Ligon - Daily Dot Com

ustreamI’ve been having fun experimenting with a new, free iPhone app called Ustream Live Broadcaster.  As you might guess by the name, it allows you to broadcast live video and audio from your iPhone 3G (which was originally promoted as taking still pix, not video) and the 3GS (which is video-capable).

It works with both a 3G and a Wifi connection (with Wifi looking better as expected).

Once you register for the free service with ustream.tv, you are assigned a URL which you can distribute to your friends.

A word of warning:  Once you start your “broadcast”, it is by no means private.  Your video and audio stream is immediately posted on the ustream website, which means you could start getting viewers asking you to scratch your nose (a request I chose not to grant).

I did watch live streaming video from someone driving along a highway in Japan, which was scenic.  Many of the other streams involved folks sitting in front of their computers, which was not.

We are now closer to the prediction offered by the comedy troupe, Firesign Theatre, which in the 1970s looked into the future to see “UTV, for You the Viewer”. 

We have met You, and he is Us.


GPS smackdown

September 15th, 2009 at 6:26 pm by under Lenise Ligon - Daily Dot Com, Uncategorized

mapOver the past few months, I’ve had the chance to give AT&T’s GPS service a test drive.  Navigator is a free download for the iPhone, but costs about $10 a month to use, added to your AT&T bill.

For my first test, I let Navigator pick the quickest route from Orange Beach to the Grand Hotel in Point Clear.  Given the iPhone’s short battery life and since the battery-draining “Location Services” must be activated for Navigator to find its way, I selected a relatively short route.

I typed in the street address for the Grand and off we drove. Navigator took me up Highway 59, then north on Highway 98, and west on Gayfer Street in Fairhope. According to Navigator, the Grand Hotel was located on Gayfer Street, east of North Section Street – not exactly the waterfront property folks have learned to love over the years.  Luckily, I knew where I was going.  When I did arrive at the Hotel, I found Navigator had placed me in the middle of the Lakewood Golf Club across the street.  Its accuracy left a little to be desired.

The next test pitted Navigator against the “NeverLost” GPS system, hardwired into the Hertz rental car I was driving from the Pittsburgh airport to southwestern Pennsylvania.  Like the first test, I was familiar with this route as well, but there was an en-route challenge to both GPS systems.  Part of the trip involved a toll road that was still under construction. Would they be able to cope?

Leaving the Pittsburgh airport was routine with both systems, though I appreciated the timely reminders from NeverLost about upcoming turns.  The two female voices used by NeverLost were crystal clear as opposed to the sometimes-muffled voice coming from Navigator through the mini-speakers on the iPhone.  When it came to the map display, there was no contest between the two.  NeverLost looked like PacMan versus Navigator’s 3D street imaging.cornfield

When I drove onto the toll road, Navigator pulled way ahead in the competition.  Because Navigator downloads maps as needed along the route, it recognized the new stretches of highway and the detours needed to guide me to them.  NeverLost turned into EverLost as it tried desperately to keep me from driving through cornfields, or so it thought.  It finally gave up and warned me to return to the paved road.  In this case, Navigator knew exactly where I was, and how to get where I was going. It also offered to check for traffic along the route.

To its credit, AT&T has come out with several refinements to Navigator in the past few months which are available free via the App Store application on the iPhone. Neverlost didn’t show evidence of that flexibility.

The next time I really need to find where I’m going, I’m bringing my iPhone, Navigator and, for a long trip, an extra battery. 

 

applestoreBTW, I stopped in an Apple Store on my way back to the airport to lust after check out the iPhone 3GS.  The “S” really does stand for speed.  It booted faster, wrote pages faster and shot some really great looking video.


Mining a mountain of documents

August 18th, 2009 at 2:45 pm by under FOX10 News, Lenise Ligon - Daily Dot Com
From left to right: Christina Leavenworth, Pamela Long Wiggins

From left to right: Christina Leavenworth, Pamela Long Wiggins

Fox 10 News reporter Christina Leavenworth and I were in Circuit Court Judge Frank Bell’s courtroom in Pensacola Monday, sitting right in front of suspect Pamela Long-Wiggins as we waited for her hearing to begin.  She is charged with being an accessory after the fact in the murder of Byrd and Melanie Billings.

Wiggins, who moved ahead of me at the defense table,  maintained her neutral to pleasant expression as the state asked for her bond to be increased to $500,000.  The only change in her demeanor came when a woman who identified herself as Long-Wiggins’ best friend testified for the state.  As the woman tearfully explained that Pamela had asked her to take care of Pamela’s child because Pamela was afraid she would be going to prison, Pamela’s face turned red.

There are still plenty of twists and turns to come in this case, many found in the hundreds of documents released after Wiggins’ bond hearing.  Fox 10 News will be there to cover them all.


Historic meeting in Point Clear

August 3rd, 2009 at 3:30 pm by under FOX10 News, Lenise Ligon - Daily Dot Com

The Business Council of Alabama organized the only gubernatorial forum to include all 8 candidates for governor.  I was happy to serve as a moderator along with Kim Hendrix of WSFA in Montgomery.  These pictures are courtesy the Business Council of Alabama. Other photos are available by clicking here.


Meeting Walter Cronkite

July 17th, 2009 at 7:13 pm by under FOX10 News, Lenise Ligon - Daily Dot Com

bob-grip-with-walter-cronkite2

I was fortunate enough to meet and actually interview Walter Cronkite in the late 1970s.  My co-anchor Glenda Webb and I traveled to New York City to record promotions for the CBS Evening News (as if he needed promotion!), and for our program.

We arrived at his studio on West 57th Street and were warned by a member of his staff that he wasn’t in the best of moods, because of chronic back pain.  To his credit, we could never tell.  He was charming, helpful and above all, professional.  You could tell by the way everyone acted in the studio that he was “Mr. Cronkite”.  He commanded respect and he got it.

After the promotional shoot was over, I had the chance to interview him about current trends in local news.  He wasn’t fond of many of them.  Even at that time, he thought stations spent too little time covering the local school board or city hall because they were “dull”.  He had particular distain for news consultants, whom he felt were ruining local news by depending too heavily on market research rather than the judgment of people who had roots in their community, and whose job it was to gather the news on a day-by-day basis.

If you look back at some of his old newscasts and judge them by contemporary standards, they do look old fashioned.  He favored content over form; there were no flashy graphics or quick sound bites.  His writing was tight and focused, and he demanded the same from his correspondents and reporters.   With the exception of Charles Kuralt’s weekly features from around the country, his newscasts were focused on hard news that occurred in the Washington to New York corridor.

He had the luxury of working in a television universe that involved only 2 other competitors, NBC and to a much lesser extent, ABC.  Families would gather around their television sets and watch, really watch the network evening news.   And when they did sit down, they watched Walter Cronkite more than anyone else.


The new Alabama

July 13th, 2009 at 6:22 pm by under FOX10 News, Lenise Ligon - Daily Dot Com

When folks outside Alabama hear about our state, they often think about names like George Wallace or Birmingham Police Commissioner Bull Conner.

Maybe, just maybe, when they think about Alabama now, they will think instead about people like Dr. Regina Benjamin.

The country doctor from Bayou La Batre won unanimous approval from the Governor, our Senators and Representatives, not to mention her patients when President Obama nominated her to become the nation’s Surgeon General.

Just read the summary of her career from the MacArthur Foundation, which awarded her $500,000 in one of its “Genius” grants:

Regina Benjamin is a rural family physician forging an inspiring model of compassionate and effective medical care in one of the most underserved regions of the United States. In 1990, she founded the Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic to serve the Gulf Coast fishing community of Bayou La Batre, Alabama, a village of approximately 2,500 residents devastated twice in the past decade by Hurricanes Georges, in 1998, and Katrina, in 2005. Despite scarce resources, Benjamin has painstakingly rebuilt her clinic after each disaster and set up networks to maintain contact with patients scattered across multiple evacuation sites. She has established a family practice that allows her to treat all incoming patients, many of whom are uninsured, and frequently travels by pickup truck to care for the most isolated and immobile in her region. Benjamin is skilled, as well, in translating research on preventive health measures into accessible, community-based interventions to decrease the disease burdens of her diverse patient base, which includes immigrants from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, who comprise a third of Bayou La Batre’s population. A committed local physician, she also plays key roles statewide and nationally, helping others establish clinics in remote areas of the country and serving in leadership positions in such health-related organizations as the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians. With a deep, firsthand knowledge of the pressing needs and health disparities afflicting rural, high-poverty communities, Benjamin is ensuring that the most vulnerable among us have access to high-quality care.

Regina Benjamin received a B.S. (1979) from Xavier University of Louisiana, attended Morehouse School of Medicine from 1980 to 1982, and received an M.D. (1984) from the University of Alabama at Birmingham; she also holds an M.B.A. (1991) from Tulane University. She completed her residency in family practice at the Medical Center of Central Georgia (1987). The CEO of the Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic since its founding in 1990, Benjamin has also served as the associate dean for rural health at the University of South Alabama’s College of Medicine and as president of the State of Alabama Medical Association (2002-2003).

Dr. Benjamin represents the Alabama of today.  I hope those inside and outside of the state think of her when they think of Alabama.


Fourth of July

July 6th, 2009 at 2:51 pm by under FOX10 News, Lenise Ligon - Daily Dot Com

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Hope you had a great Fourth of July weekend!

The highlight for my family was our outing to Hank Aaron Stadium, to enjoy some hot dogs, baseball and fireworks with a group of friends. It was the perfect way to celebrate an All-American holiday.

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It has also been a tradition for us to watch the Fourth of July spectacular from the Hatch Shell along the Charles River, featuring the Boston Pops.  A&E used to do a tremendous job with the broadcast, and it just hasn’t been the same since it moved to CBS.  Its broadcast begins with, what is actually, the end of the live performance—the last few measures of the 1812 Overture.  It’s just not the same.