SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) - This Sunday, Lee Peck will anchor the 10 p.m. news -- for the last time.
Peck, a Westlake native and member of the
family since 2005, has taken a job at
, Fox 10 in Mobile, Ala.
"It's a great opportunity that came my way. It was too good to pass up," he said.
Peck started his
career as a producer and reporter on May 1.
But this wasn't his first experience working at the station -- he was a teen reporter in high school 1996-1997.
The Westlake High graduate went to McNeese for a year before transferring to LSU. He interned at station WAFB as a desk assistant and then after graduation, he was hired on as an Internet producer.
Peck accepted the producer job at KPLC with the hopes of moving into reporting.
It didn't take long for him to move in front of the camera. Not even five months after he started, Hurricane Rita hit Southwest Louisiana -- and Peck was instrumental in helping to document Southwest Louisiana's story.
KPLC's news team lived at the station during the storm and the days that followed and stayed on the air 24-hours day.
At one point, staff had to evacuate to a local hospital -- all the while still broadcasting.
"This was a time when getting the news to the viewers was crucial. It truly was life saving information we were delivering," he said. "There were so many stories to tell. Everyone had their own personal struggles and triumphs and I'm just glad I had the opportunity to share their stories."
In 2007, Peck became KPLC's weekend anchor. Most of the time, he was a "one man show" -- he produced shows by himself and often, did the reporting too.
He prided himself on getting as much local coverage as possible.
"If there was something local going on, viewers needed to know about it. Every time I write a story, I always keep that in the back of my mind and try to find new ways to engage the viewer. To be honest I try to keep it fun," Peck said.
Thinking back over the "Lee Decade," Peck estimated that he has worked with an estimated 57 on-air personalities during his tenure.
He said the realization that he is leaving didn't really hit him until Wednesday -- his last day as a KPLC reporter.
"I don't think it hit me until I realized it was my last day to work with Theresa (Schmidt). It really hit me then," he said. "I learned so much from
her. She has a good heart and cares about the viewers. That is so important."
Peck also said he learned a lot from longtime KPLC anchor, Cynthia Arceneaux.
"She is flawless -- one of the best. Just watching her, I have learned so much," he said.
They will miss him too.
"Lee is a pleasure to work with," said veteran reporter Theresa Schmidt. "He is always professional and enthusiastic about covering the news. He is also a kind and supportive friend. His great sense of humor always helps lighten the mood when we might be in danger of taking ourselves too seriously."
"Lee is one of the hardest working journalists to walk through these doors," said Cynthia Arceneaux. "And believe me, I've seen a many come and go over the years. When I think about Lee moving on, I can't help but get a little sentimental… You know he and I have a running joke where I call him my 'son' and he calls me 'Mom.' So I am not just losing a great reporter, I'm losing a family member."
As will Charlie Halderman, KPLC news director.
"While people on TV come and go, it's actually rare that a local station has a weekend anchor for as long as we've had Lee. KPLC and Southwest Louisiana have been extremely fortunate to have a native in front of the camera to keep us informed," he said "Lee leaves a big void as he heads to Alabama for a new adventure. I'm proud of his time here."
Despite the new opportunities that await him, Peck said it's not going to be easy to leave home.
"I will never forget that this is home and how the viewers have been so great to me. I have been overwhelmed with well wishes. It's been a great 10 years."
KPLC's Erica Bivens will take over for Peck as the weekend anchor.
"You can never replace anyone. Lee has left a tremendous legacy and I have a lot to live up to. The short while I've known him has been a pleasure. I'm honored for the opportunity but extremely sad to see him go."
Bivens will continue reporting three days a week, in addition to anchoring the weekend shows.
Tune in 10 p.m. Sunday to catch Peck's last anchor broadcast during an hour-long 7 News Nightcast.