This TV anchor and reporter has a talent for breaking news, as well as adapting enthusiastically to her adopted home of New Orleans.
by PAUL A. GREENBERG
Some people find their passion in life a bit earlier than others. Just ask Liz Reyes, ABC26/WGNO co-anchor. Even as a teenager growing up in Toronto, Reyes knew she was headed for a career in news. “I just always found it fascinating how every day the news entailed a different adventure,” she says. “I always had this keen interest in political science, history and news.”
By the time Reyes was in high school, she was already volunteering her time at community cable access shows. In college she secured an internship at CBC (a major Canadian broadcast network) and eventually worked her way up to doing overnight anchoring. She also worked in several markets for another Canadian network, CTV. Her destiny was locked in at an early age, but no one could have known how fully she would invest herself into her work. Before joining ABC26/WGNO in 1997, Reyes worked for the ABC affiliate in Miami, covering high-profile stories such as the May 1996 crash of ValuJet flight 592 into the Florida Everglades, and the murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace in South Beach. Since joining the New Orleans station, Reyes has doggedly pursued other major stories, including the conviction of former Gov. Edwin Edwards and the arrest and convictions of serial killer Derrick Todd Lee. She was the only New Orleans reporter to fly into Hurricane Charley with the “Hurricane Hunters” (the nickname for the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, based at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss.).
“I’m just a person with a fascination with everything around me, a very nosey individual,” Reyes says, “and in our business you have to be nosey or inquisitive to do the job.” Still, there are anchors in various markets who function more as editors and news readers and rarely get out into the field to do serious investigative reporting. “I get much more satisfaction out of my job when I’m doing stories that affect so many people in the community,” Reyes says. A member of the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), Reyes says attending its conventions inspires her to do more investigative work.
So how did a nice girl from Toronto find herself way down here in New Orleans? “Canadians and Americans have this incredibly close relationship,” she says. “We share a huge border and in Canada we’re inundated with American culture and TV, and as a result you have many Canadians who move here in this industry. I grew up in Toronto, but I was born in Trinidad, and there’s that unmistakable Caribbean feel about this city—not to mention what a great news market this is. You could spend an eternity here and never run out of material.”
Judging by her recent purchase and renovation of a 3,000-square-foot home in Kenner, Reyes seems committed to her adopted home town. “My husband and I went from Lakeview to Kenner and we love it,” she says. “Our emphasis has been on transforming the kitchen. If you notice, even if you have the most beautiful living or dining room, everybody ends up in the kitchen.” The spacious open kitchen has a marble island, open grill cooking area, a computer mounted on the wall, and of course the ever-present TV. Still to come is a full rehab of the bathrooms, but first came tearing out an old bar, replaced by an oversize saltwater aquarium designed by Reyes’ husband. “At the end of the day it’s so soothing and serene to watch the fish in the tank,” she says.
For Reyes, the end of the day can be a long time coming. She co-anchors the 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts, works diligently on her investigative reports and maintains an active involvement with the com-munity. She has been involved in the Dress for Success program, and recently did a Habitat for Humanity fashion show to the theme of “Desperate Housewives,” which not so coincidentally happens to be broadcast on ABC.
“Events helping kids really get my attention,” Reyes says. “It’s so important giving a positive and sound foundation, and providing for these kids so they can grow up as productive human beings,” she says.
So what about guilty pleasures? Reyes, a self-confessed “shopaholic,” cannot resist a bargain. And as for “appointment television,” “Desperate Housewives,” “24” and “Boston Legal” share space at the top of her list. But above all, Reyes is an inveterate reader. Most recently she read American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us, by Steven Emerson. But her tastes run the gamut from topical to light fare. She loves Vince Flynn’s adventure novels, and a recent favorite was Cane River, by Lalita Tabemy, an Oprah Book Club selection. When time allows, Reyes packs her books for quick getaway—most recently to Hawaii. Locally she can’t resist a great restaurant—Stella!, Restaurant August and Wolfe’s top her list—but she admits, “Sometimes late at night I’ve gone from black-tie events straight over to Camellia Grill.”
Apparently, Liz Reyes has become a full-fledged New Orleanian.
Three Things Liz Reyes Needs To Feel At Home:
My colorful art
My spouse •