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“In Louisiana, Politics is Covered Like Sports.”
Jim Engster, host of Talk Louisiana, a daily call-in radio show that originates in Baton Rouge on public radio station WRKF 89.3, is our guest on Discover Lafayette. Jim also serves as president of the Louisiana Radio Network and Tiger Rag Magazine, known as the “Bible of LSU Sports.”
In a broadcast career that started in September 1979 as a student working at KLSU (now WLSU) radio, Jim has interviewed nine Louisiana governors and has reported on every gubernatorial election since 1975. He hosts “Ask the Governor” with Louisiana’s Governor John Bel Edwards on the third Wednesday of each month on the Louisiana Radio Network which airs statewide.
In 2018, Jim was named Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Columnist of the Year for his contributions to Tiger Rag Magazine. He was also inducted in 2018 to the LSU Hall of Distinction in recognition of his outstanding career and loyalty to LSU and was inducted into the LSU Manship School Hall of Fame in 2012.
“I remember Howard Cosell used to talk about ‘dugout vision”, where people only look at the scores and don’t want to report anything that doesn’t vary from who’s on first. There is a lot more to sports than that, than just the games on the scoreboard. It’s those people stories that really fascinated me then and now. And no matter whether I’m interviewing somebody from sports or the arts or business or politics, I try to find out more about them than just what their party affiliation is or who they’re playing for or what’s their next project. I’d like to know something about them. And I think that is really what makes life interesting.”
He’s watched Louisiana transition from majority Democrat to Republican over the past forty years. The Roman Catholic faith is still a predominant religion in Louisiana, and Jim shared that the Catholic vote is a good harbinger of how the nation will vote. One of the key reasons Louisiana swung to majority Republican is its conservative views on social issues, especially on its deeply-held anti-abortion beliefs.
Full of humorous anecdotes about politics, celebrities, and current affairs, Jim has a photographic memory that allows him to pull facts together quickly as he analyzes trends and provides insights on just about any topic you can bring up. Memorable quips included the fact that President Trump won electoral votes in the 22 most obese states (Louisiana is #6) and America has the most obese president since William Howard Taft. A heartwarming memory shared was how David Treen went to bat in the attempt to obtain a pardon for Edwin Edwards even though Edwards had unseated him in his re-election effort in 1983.
If you’re interested in the mind behind a successful journalist and broadcaster, this is an interview you won’t want to miss. You can listen to Jim Engster each morning on WRKF 89.3 or online at https://www.wrkf.org.