New Orleans newsman will ride as grand marshal

Published 8:58 am Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Popular New Orleans newsman Eric Paulsen will serve as grand marshal when the Krewe of MCCA takes to the streets on Saturday.

Folks have been waking up with Paulsen for over 15 years on the country’s number one-rated local morning newscast, which he co-hosts with Sally-Ann Roberts.

During his college career at Southern Illinois, a university noted for its broadcast facilities, Paulsen auditioned for an opening at the campus radio station.

He was selected to announce the hourly news updates, and told the story of his live broadcast debut with a bit of self-decprecation.

“They handed me a script that said ‘This is your name reporting,’” he laughed. “And that’s exactly what I read on the air.”

SIU also boasted an impressive television studio, where its all student-run newscast aired daily on the local PBS station at 5 p.m. Competing with over a hundred of his student colleagues, Paulsen landed one of the two coveted solo anchor slots — and launched his on-air career writing, reporting and anchoring for the half hour show three days a week.

Paulsen started WWL-TV’s Morning News and later went on to host the highly successful local version of the nationally-syndicated show, “PM Magazine.”

Among his most lauded work during his time with “PM Magazine” was the final, in-depth broadcast interview with literary legend Tennessee Williams.

“Years later, I still see clips from Tennessee’s last interview popping up on all kinds of shows,” Paulsen said.

After “PM’s” successful run, Eric returned to the newsroom in the fall of 1984. He solo anchored the weekend newscasts for six months, before coming back to his first home on the morning set to join co-anchor Andre Trevigne.

“There was a lot of fire between us,” Paulsen recalled. “And the audience seemed to like all that friendly bickering.”

When Trevigne departed over a decade ago, Eric found an easy camaraderie with veteran newswoman Roberts.

“Sally-Ann is like a sister to me,” he said. “And we tease each other just like two siblings.”

Remembering his first childhood ambition of becoming a vet, one of Eric’s favorite regular show segments focuses on a featured “guest” from the Audubon Zoo. While he’s introduced viewers to all kinds of exotic creatures, he’ll never forget the visiting turkey that attacked him on the set. “It was around Thanksgiving, “ he quipped. “And that turkey went straight for me… I literally flew out of my chair.”

Off the anchor desk, Eric keeps an unusual menagerie of turtles and other pets and he also enjoys riding in his classic MGB.