One on one with Chanel 11’s new leading lady
Meet the latest news sensation in Houston, KHOU Channel 11’s Lucy Noland. She’s the new face that enters your living room each evening and delivers hard news as it happens.
I first became acquainted with Noland when Sam Malone interviewed her on the radio. They were playing map trivia. He showed her a street/ city name, and she pronounced it. Imagine being new to town and having to pronounce our street names.
“That’s one of the first things people throw at you — pronunciations,” she says. She credits the great team of producers and co-anchor Greg Hurst for her seemingly quick ability to get the names right. “I immediately ask if any name can go two ways, three ways or 12 ways,” she says. “I’ll immediately say, ‘Help!'” With the assistance of others, she has quickly learned our highways and byways.
Timing is everything
Lucy Noland comes to Houston via New York, Detroit, the San Francisco Bay Area, Alaska and Vietnam. As she plants her roots here, she recalls a time when fate brought her to Houston — almost. Nine years ago, she was offered a job in Houston, but didn’t take it. Today, the unexpected departure of Lisa Foronda created an open seat at KHOU’s desk. Lucy Noland’s time in Houston has come.
“I’m a big believer in God. I talk to the big guy all the time, and I say a lot of prayers,” she says. Prayers and her gut told her not to take the job nine years ago. Now, they say it’s time to accept.
Pronouncing street names wrong is one thing; being welcomed by the Houston market is another. “Stations are a little leery bringing a new person in,” she says. “Will he or she be accepted?” She refers to the beginning as the “getting to know you” period. “It’s like when your brother that you love dearly brings home the new girl. You wait and see.”
How long we have to wait and how quickly we will see is a matter of opinion. “It depends on the market,” she says. Certain markets, like Los Angeles, are more welcoming; not all markets are. Many people watch the news because they like those delivering it, and they trust the team behind the news. “That’s like a family,” she says. “You’re welcoming them into your home.”
She laughs about times when her extended “family members” have felt comfortable enough to give advice. “Change your lipstick; lay off the cookies — you’re getting a little big. Bonding with viewers is important. No matter how careful a station tries to be, when they bring in someone new, it’s a roll of the dice.”
In Houston, the competition is stiff. Dominique Sachse has been with KPRC Channel 2 since the mid-’90s, and Melanie Lawson has been with KTRK Channel 13 since 1988. Both are considered hometown girls. To compete with them, Noland’s plans are simple: work hard, do the best job she can and enjoy Texas. She wants to get out and meet people!
So far, she’s had a great time, even down to the Kroger employee who offered her a Kroger card. (She especially appreciated the Houstonians who didn’t get mad while she applied for the card.) On local involvement, she says, “everybody’s a key part of the community. It doesn’t matter who you are, and I hope to become a part of the fabric in Houston.”
Thus far, it hasn’t been an issue. “They’ve been kind of playing up that I’m from New York, Detroit, the Bay Area, Alaska and Vietnam,” she says. “I’m not from anywhere, but from everywhere!” Now she is searching for the nitty-gritty that defines Texas. “I cannot wait to really get into it and learn more than what I learned in textbooks.”
Inspiration for success
The news bug bit her in eighth grade when she had a crush on Peter Jennings. She recalls watching television with her parents in Fairbanks, Ala. She pointed to the woman on the screen and said, “Dad I’ve always loved the news. I’ve always loved learning, history and politics. I’m going to do that. In fact, I’m going to have her job.”
She admits that sometimes she can’t believe it’s her, and proves you can manifest your own destiny. “We all have a path,” she says. At this point on her path, she’s to further KHOU’s success. Coming to a leading news station “carries a weight on my shoulders,” she says. “It’s a great challenge, and I don’t take it lightly at all.”
Being a journalist is a special gift. “You have a backstage pass to the world, and it affords you the opportunity to meet people that most would not normally meet,” she says. She knows she has the inside track and feels a strong sense of commitment to the community that allows her to learn and grow. She loves television news because it brings people together. “It’s that campfire. It’s the thing that people gather around to watch to see what’s going on and then share with each other.”
Noland seems like someone you’d like to hang around and have lunch with. Now, she can be your friend. A friend who gives you the latest news and information you need. When you don’t see her warm, friendly face on television, she’s with her kids or exploring the arts. She loves opera as much as Broadway; museums, history and culture hold a special place in her heart. “I was so emotionally overwhelmed at the Vatican,” she recalls, “I started crying.”
In a career that creates many nomads, Lucy Noland is ready to find a home. “The blessings of moving bring the wisdom to realize something great when it appears before your eyes,” she says. “Houston’s that spot — let’s settle down.”
By the way, that morning on the radio, she pronounced Humble correctly, as well as other streets, and only missed Kuykendahl. And really, who actually knows how to pronounce Kuykendahl?