"This is one of the few stations that is willing to devote more than thirty seconds to an important story," says Eyewitness News anchor and reporter Dennis Woltering. And each weeknight,, residents of southeast Louisiana tune in to one of the highest rated local newscasts in the country to hear the day's events from this talented writer, anchor and investigative reporter.
A native of St. Louis, Dennis studied Journalism, Political Science and Constitutional Law at Oregon State University. He went on to earn his Master's degree in Journalism and Communications at the American University in Washington, D.C.
"I suppose my love for being near the center of the action started when I was in Washington," he explains. "The Capitol was like our lab and we would frequently go down there and do stories about Watergate and the issues that were going through the Senate or the House of Representatives. It was really an exciting time for me."
Dennis took his first job in television at a small station in Fargo, North Dakota as a weekend anchor and reporter.
"When you work at a television station that small, you do just about everything, and on the weekends I was almost the entire news department," he laughs. "I would go in late in the morning, tear wires, write the show, edit video and film stories, and then I'd go into the studio and anchor the show!"
It wasn't long before Dennis made the leap to major market broadcast journalism when he first came to WWL-TV as a reporter and weekend anchor in 1977. He covered stories on politics, government, corruption, environmental issues, and the foster care system.
"I also went on a couple of interesting trips. The station sent me to Honduras and Nicaragua to do a series of reports on the Communist government that was running Nicaragua then. We also did an extensive series of stories on cocaine and the devastating impact it was already having back then in the early eighties." Dennis' reports traced the path of the coca plant from crop in Columbia, South America to street drug in the United States.
"Probably the biggest story I covered when I was here for that first seven years was the police strike that shut down Mardi Gras in 1979," he remembers. And during those same years while living in New Orleans, Dennis' two daughters were born.
Then in 1984 he was offered a chance to work at a CBS owned station in Philadelphia. Despite his love for New Orleans, Dennis simply couldn't pass on the opportunity. "I thought it would be a great chance to sharpen my reporting skills," he explains.
As a reporter in Philadelphia, Dennis was sent across the country and around the world to get a story. From the Los Angeles riots that followed the Rodney King verdict, to San Francisco after the earthquake, to Washington D.C. for reports on the Israeli - P.L.O. peace accords. He also traveled to Africa to file a story on the refugees who were fleeing massacres in Rwanda.
But despite all of the national and international news events that Dennis covered, one of the biggest and most memorable stories happened right there in Philadelphia.
"There was a twelve hour confrontation the cops had with a back-to-nature group that called itself M.O.V.E. It began when police tried to arrest some M.O.V.E. members in their row home. Gunfire erupted and went on for most of the day. At one point in the afternoon police dropped a bomb on the M.O.V.E. house from a helicopter. That started a fire that spread until it burned down the whole neighborhood. Sixty-one homes were destroyed and eleven M.O.V.E. members were killed," he explains. "It was probably the most unbelievable story I've ever covered."
But Dennis admits that he and his family never really felt at home in Philadelphia. "We missed New Orleans a lot, in fact I almost came back several times," he says. Then in late 1994 Dennis got the opportunity to return to WWL-TV.
"My family and I are really glad to be back. I enjoy the personality of this town and covering the stories here."
As expected, Dennis has continued to file some of the most memorable reports in local news. He's covered stories on HMO corruption, contractor fraud, restaurant inspections, school bus drivers, the chemical leak in Bogalusa, EMS response time, and the Pope's visit to Cuba.
Angela Hill says that her co-anchor is, "as good if not better than any network reporter in the business pure and simple. As an anchor he exudes knowledge and confidence, but it is his compassion and integrity that set him apart. Dennis cares about people, and he cares about getting the right information out to them."
When he's not out working on his next report, Dennis enjoys reading, bicycling, still photography and running.