TV anchor Liepman adjusts to challenges of COVID & keeps a tradition alive

Editor: In honor of Women’s History Month, we are featuring interviews with local women leaders. These pieces were written by Baylor University students from the Department of Journalism, Public Relations, and New Media.

By Callen Vaught 

Lindsay Liepman, a morning news anchor/reporter at 25 News KXXV, has been a journalist for 18 years and worked all over the United States. In 2018, however, she returned to work in her hometown area of Waco. 

Lindsay Liepman of KXXV-TV

Liepman has four kids — three boys and one girl from age 4 to 8. Working and being a mom is a challenge, but Liepman has come up with an efficient way to do both.

“After work, since it is the morning shift, I go home, I take a nap, then I pick my kids up from school. After school is just crazy, but we still find fun things to do,” she said. 

Liepman said she has become even busier because of COVID-19 and how it affects her job at the news station. 

“I never worked from home, I was always the person in the studio,” she said. “So for me it has been maybe even a little bit more work because there are some things that you have to do in the studio that you really can’t do remotely. And so the workload is a little bit more.”

Although the coronavirus has affected Liepman and her work, she said she has been able to adjust well. 

“Really the content of the news cast is what has changed. Before you would never do a Zoom interview unless you absolutely had to, but now we are really relying on being able to do Zoom interviews and phone interviews and things we would have normally traveled to do,” she said. “The content has changed and the look of news has changed. But we are definitely adapting, which has been interesting to be a part of.”

No matter how busy work gets or the coronavirus affects life, Liepman said she still makes time for her family. 

“Friday nights are always our pizza nights. We eat pizza and usually watch movies,” she said. 

Liepman said she has a lot of good memories here in Waco, both from when she was a kid and since she has returned. 

“When I was a kid, I was raised by a single mom, and she would take us to a place called Mazzio’s Pizza in Waco every Friday night, and it was so special to me. You see my family has continued the tradition of eating pizza every Friday night,” she said. “My favorite thing since returning to the area is getting to be able to share the different stories of Waco through my job.”

Liepman said another great way to get involved in Waco is to listen to some of the podcasts produced in Waco. 

“Listening to podcasts is the number one way to be able to connect with what’s going on in Waco,” she said. 

She said she would suggest Rogue Media to people because they produce a lot of Waco’s podcasts. 

“I’m a big proponent of listening to podcasts,” Liepman said. “Waco has a number of amazing podcasts, ones that tell you where to go in Waco or tell you about Waco history. No matter what you are looking for in Waco, you can find it by listening to one of those podcasts.” 

Callen Vaught is a Baylor University sophomore journalism/public relations major from Boerne. 

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Waco is now home for Ke’Sha Lopez

By Gracie Ozburn

Ke’Sha Lopez, a KWTX News 10 anchor, has been an active member of the Waco community for over 10 years. In an interview, Lopez talks about how she stays involved in the “Heart of Texas.”

Ke’Sha Lopez

Lopez said she was first influenced to go into journalism by her cousin who had joined his college news team while growing up in Arkansas. This then inspired her to major in radio and television at Arkansas State University, and she started working on the college’s news station.

 “There were two black anchors at home, and it never registered that I could do television,” Lopez said. “It wasn’t until my cousin came home … and popped in the VHS of him doing a newscast that I was like, ‘I can do that.’”

She had many internships and jobs at stations in Midwest and Southern states, including her first on-air job as a reporter for WKAG-TV in Clarksville, Tenn. Later, she found work in Dallas, which then led to finding a job in Waco. 

Something that she discovered instantly when coming to Texas was the love for the state from the community. “The Texas pride is something I’ve never seen before,” Lopez said. “It’s strong here.”

Lopez has been in the business for almost 20 years. When not reporting, Lopez is working at McLennan Community College teaching a reading and writing course. She started as a substitute teacher because her mom was a teacher and encouraged her to apply. She has since stuck with the teaching path and now teaches a virtual class. It keeps her feeling connected with what is going on in the area and world.

“I feel like I have a different impact on people living here,” Lopez said. “Helping my students learn something that will help them move onto the next level, … that’s rewarding.”

Other ways she stays active is by staying involved in her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha. It hosts events and had one recently during the election to rally people and get them excited about voting. Pre-pandemic, her work schedule with the morning news show was always eventful, and she was always doing something with her posting about events and talking to groups of people.

“We were so busy,” Lopez said. “We were always out doing something.”

During her freetime, Lopez loves exploring the outdoors and discovering Waco. She especially enjoys walking the trails in Cameron Park. Another spot she finds herself at often is Lula Jane’s, a coffee and bakery shop on Elm Street.

“I love to just go in and see how people are doing,” Lopez said. “There are days where I will just pop in to see what’s going on just to still be in touch with the community around here.”

Lopez said she has also enjoyed watching Waco grow throughout her 10 years of being here. Even though there is construction taking place in many parts of Waco, she enjoys seeing the end result of the projects. 

“It has been really interesting seeing it grow and develop,” Lopez said. “Waco has become my home.”

Gracie Ozburn is from a suburb of Chicago and is a sophomore at Baylor University, majoring in journalism.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

KCEN’s Caldwell is involved in & exploring Waco

In honor of Black History Month, we are featuring interviews with local Black community leaders. These pieces were written by Baylor University students from the Department of Journalism, Public Relations, and New Media. The students asked questions about what the leaders love about Waco, and we are excited to share their responses with you this month.

By Katelyn Wilmoth

During her time reporting the news, KCEN reporter and former news anchor Jasmin Caldwell has found many reasons to love Waco. 

Jasmin Caldwell of KCEN 6 News

As a reporter, Caldwell said it is important to “stay on top” on everything that goes on in the Waco community. She said it is her job to cover everything from politics to the happier stories which makes the job more interesting. Caldwell said one of her favorite things about being a reporter is meeting people from “all walks of life” throughout the community. 

“It’s one of those jobs that keeps you on your toes and you will never get bored with being a news reporter,” Caldwell said.

In the three years Caldwell has lived in Waco, she has been able to host several events for the Cen-Tex African American Chamber of Commerce in Waco. Caldwell said the chamber helps small local businesses in the Waco area, and she is a huge supporter of the organization. 

Caldwell said she also enjoys exploring new places to shop. With the Waco community growing at such a fast rate, Caldwell said there is always something new to look for. One of her favorite things to do in Waco is get a group of friends together and spend the day taking pictures around town, especially at Magnolia.

“I love getting dressed up to go down to the Silos to take pictures because it is the best, most perfect place to take them,” Caldwell said.

Before moving to Waco, Caldwell worked for a news station in Charlottesville, Va., where she worked on a story that made national news. Caldwell said the Robert E. Lee statue had been an ongoing issue of racism in Charlottesville for a long time, and she was happy to be a part of the team that brought the issue nationwide. She discovered from the beginning of her career that “working on local issues means a lot to the community.”

“I am happy that the story went national, so the world could see what was going on in such a small town,” Caldwell said. 

Caldwell is also a part of the National Association of Black Journalists. The organization was created to help reporters and journalists stay connected to help find jobs and network with journalists worldwide.

“It is such a cool opportunity to see other journalists who are doing the same thing as me,” Caldwell said.

Katelyn Wilmoth is a first-year student at Baylor University. She is studying journalism to one day become a professional reporter while covering everything from education to entertainment. 

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Equity in action

By Rachel E. Pate

“In a racially equitable society, the distribution of society’s benefits and burdens would not be skewed by race.”The Aspen Institute

Brief Rewind

Around this time last year, the City of Waco, our mayor and city council held a retreat addressing racial inequity within our community. J.B. Smith, Waco Tribune-Herald reporter, covered the story in “Waco council takes aim at racial disparities, gentrification” (May 23, 2019).  Some of the staggering statistics gathered and presented by the city were highlighted in J.B.’s article, revealing that:

  • Whites account for 43% of Waco’s population but hold 80% of the jobs paying more than $40,000 as of 2015.
  • Among white households, 13.5% make less than $25,000 a year, compared with 25.3% among Hispanics and 51.1% among blacks.
  • Nearly 29% of white households make more than $100,000 a year, compared with 3.3% for blacks and 8.7% for Hispanics.
  • African Americans in 2017 had a 31% mortgage denial rate, compared with 20.9% for Hispanics and 11.7% for whites.

In the news article Councilman Dillion Meek stated: “I’ve always put a high value on grit and self-determination, but if the goal is to improve the economy, we have to look at systems from 100 or 150 years ago to now,” Meek said. “The outcomes from the data speak for themselves and are a direct result of the history of this community.”

Assistant City Manager Deidra Emerson was also quoted saying: “The end goal is to ensure that everyone in Waco thrives, including people of color. … The starting point for the next generation is the ending point of the last generation. If we don’t start to change those outcomes now, we’ll keep repeating the same things.“

Pandemic Proportions

Positioned against the backdrop of a once-in-a-century global pandemic, we all witnessed our nation’s institutions, systems, businesses and, most importantly, people brace for a great unknown together. As the virus spread, we were forced to mourn more and differently than before, all while swallowing disproportionate effects happening in communities of color. The Pandemic drastically changed so much of what we thought we once knew and added to the boiling pot of health disparities, income disparities, racial disparities and inequity in the fabric of America.  

As the wave of concern swept through our nation, our local leaders were called to immediate attention and action; elected officials, health officials, business experts and volunteer task forces were all on one accord. 

The Cen-Tex African American Chamber of Commerce (CTAACC), along with others, was right in the thick of early and ongoing discussions about community health and our local economy. Our staff immediately pivoted from pre-set work to intentionally and strategically supporting the needs of our community’s small and minority-owned businesses. 

We partnered with the Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to support immediate small business initiatives like our StarBridge Bingo and Buy Local Waco online marketing campaigns. We worked together to collect grassroots data from businesses, employees and people of color. 

CTAACC was firmly seated at the table with the city and other community partners breaking down information, providing frequent updates and contributing solutions. 

Collective Voices

While weeks of the shelter-in-place orders and social distancing continued, CTAACC assembled an informal advisory group to work alongside our staff and help create solutions for business equity. Community business members and leaders included Wannika Muhammad, Rev. Marlon Jones and Cuevas Peacock, who each added diversity, passion and perspective to the dialogue. Our group later became known as the CommUnity Voices team. United in tackling the tasks before us, we put our heads together and strategically planned our moves ahead.  

Within our virtual, weekly think-tank sessions, each member shared our concerns about equity, community and business. Each contributed wisdom and insight from our collective backgrounds in business and community development, religion and higher education and lived experiences. We examined and digested everything around us and studied the historical pre-sets of inequity. 

As we saw increased unemployment rates for workers, struggling small businesses and government relief that could only do so much, the group determined that solid, perpetual initiatives were mandatory to rightfully shore up vulnerable, small, minority-owned businesses. In those conversations, our vision for equity was honed.

Forward March

The Chamber’s Center for Business Excellence (CBE) has long been an engine for small business development, offering free business tools, technology resources and meeting space. Utilizing this existing program, CTAACC established the Cen-Tex Minority Business (CTMB) Equity Fund in May 2020 to provide business relief to businesses of color through grant funding and micro-loans.  (Donate Here.)

The CTMB Equity Fund is the first local fund in our community that will assist small minority-owned businesses facing income loss or rising expenses due to circumstances caused by natural disasters, illness, global pandemics, or any situation that disrupts their economic and social well-being. 

The fund will also provide increased access to social capital and business training/education for entrepreneurs. Our kick-start campaign goal of $100,000 provides individuals, organizations and businesses with the opportunity to not only talk about equity but invest in it also.  I could say more, but for now I’ll digress and take a breath. There’s still more action to be done tomorrow.

The Center of Business Excellence (CBE) is a private sector 501(c)(3) charity affiliated with the Cen-Tex African American Chamber of Commerce. The CBE actively helps McLennan County small businesses thrive by providing operational, social, and financial resources needed to sustain business development. The CBE manages the Cen-Tex Minority Business Equity Funda program created by the Cen-Tex African American Chamber of Commerce and a Business Advisory Committee comprised of community business members and leaders.  

The purpose of the fund program is to provide short-term, immediate aid/relief to small, local minority-owned businesses facing income loss or rising expenses due to circumstances caused by natural disasters, illness, global pandemics, or any situation that disrupts their economic and social well-being. 

Any McLennan County-based, minority-owned, small business with 10 employees or less is eligible to apply for assistance. Grants/loans may be awarded up to $2,500 dependent on resources. I could go on, but for now I guess I’ll digress and take a breather. There’s action to be done tomorrow.

Editor’s Note: Investments in the CTMB Equity Fund are currently being accepted online at The online application portal for business funding is expected to open later this month. CTAACC can be reached at (254) 235-3204.

Rachel E. Pate is vice president of economic development at Cen-Tex African American Chamber of Commerce (CTAACC) in Waco. Rachel is a native Wacoan and graduate of University High School. Since 2016, Rachel has served in various roles at the chamber and championed the causes of small entrepreneurs, women, and minorities. She is also a LeadershipPlenty Institute graduate, Rapoport Academy Public School Board member and Start-Up Waco Board member.

With her mother being a Sunday School teacher and evangelist, Rachel began serving the community at a very early age. She was active on her church’s usher board and youth ministry. Some of her fondest memories of growing up in Waco are being surrounded by her large, extended family for reunions and Juneteenth gatherings; her mother is one of 11 siblings who all hail from Waco. Her father, R.E. Pate Jr. (deceased), and mother met at Paul Quinn College in the early 1970s — the same campus where CTAACC resides today.

Rachel is also a proud mom of one, a lifelong member of Toliver Chapel Church, a lover of the great outdoors, an avid basketball fan, and a dedicated wearer of Converse’s Chuck Taylor shoes. Rachel’s favorite scripture is Romans 8:31- “…If God be for us, then who can stand against us?”