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BOV member spotlight – Lelan Statom '86

BOV member spotlight – Lelan Statom ‘86

In each issue of Circle Park News, we feature one or more members of the CCI Board of Visitors through a Q&A session. Lelan Statom is this issue’s featured member.                                               

StatomLelan A. Statom is an Emmy Award-winning meteorologist who has been helping Mid-Southerners start their day for more than 15 years. Since 1999, he has been part of Nashville’s #1 rated morning newscast, NewsChannel 5 This Morning. Lelan joined the NewsChannel 5 Network in 1993 as weather anchor for the weekend morning and evening newscasts. In September 2006, he was named co-host of Talk of the Town, the station’s long running & top-rated talk show.

Lelan earned a BS in Communications with an emphasis in news & public affairs at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He received his Certificate of Broadcast Meteorology from Mississippi State. Statom has been a member of the CCI Board of Visitors since 2008.

CCI – How and when did you first get involved (on a volunteer basis) with CCI?

Lelan – The very first time came shortly after graduation while I was working in Knoxville in the late 80s. I would speak to classes or be a part of panels for AERho. More recently, I had the opportunity to talk to Dean Wirth at a couple of events in Nashville and Knoxville shortly after he arRose and Statomrived at UT. Not long after, I was asked to be on the Board of Visitors.

CCI – In your view, what is the most important or impactful role you’ve played as a volunteer?

Lelan – CCI seems to have such a great staff. I think our best role is to offer advice to keep the college moving in the right direction, especially as the world of communications is changing quickly around us. 

CCI – Why have you chosen to support the college (financially and/or with your time)? Why do you see this as important?

Lelan – My time at UTK helped pave the way for what I have been able to do in television news/weather.  This offers me a chance to say “Thank-You!” In the grand scheme of things, it may be small, but a lot of small parts from all our past graduates could build something big.  Time and financial support are needed in this era of budget reform. It can start with baby steps then build from there, but we need all of our past graduates to stay or get connected with CCI and UT.

CCI – What do you hope to accomplish during your term with the BOV?

Lelan – In addition to helping offer guidance for the staff, I hope it will remind past graduates to become involved with CCI and show our newest grads they should help support their university.

CCI – Is there anything exciting or interesting going on “behind the scenes” in CCI that the average alum might not be aware of?

Lelan – Students and staff need to know that Dean Wirth and his team are looking at all options (traditional and non-traditional) to increase funding as the state continues to decrease what it gives to the university. 

CCI – If someone is considering volunteerism as a way to “give back” to the University, what advice would you have for them? Why should they do it?

Lelan – He or she needs to know their support is needed in both time and money. I know first hand, we can’t all give large amounts of money—as my dad the preacher would say, “let the choir say Amen to that.” For others, who may be on the other side of the country, giving through time can be hard as well. I would urge you to contact Dean Wirth or his staff to let them know you want to help. 

CCI – What from your UT and CCI experience has “stuck with you” during life since graduating?

Lelan – Dr. Swan became department head of Broadcasting while I was at UT, he upgraded a lot of equipment, and that helped me greatly, especially during my practicums at two local stations. That and my time at WUTK-FM helped to lay a great foundation for me. It helped me to get hired on a UT produced TV show called “This Week in Big Orange Country.”  I later got jobs at both Knoxville TV stations where I had done practicums.

CCI – What is your favorite memory from your time as a student at UT?

Lelan – I met my wife at UT when I was an R.A. at Hess Hall (It has air conditioning now!!!).  As a student reporter/anchor at WUTK-FM, I got a chance to cover President Reagan’s trip to East Tennessee as well as cover UT at the 1986 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. As a student, it was so cool riding the elevator with ABC’s longtime football voice, Keith Jackson. Whooaaaa Nellie!

CCI – Anything else you’d like to share?

Lelan – I also serve on the newly reorganized UTK Alumni Board of Directors. Both board positions allow me to see what needs to be improved as well as what a great institution we have. Earlier this year, Governor Bredesen issued a challenge to make UTK a top 25 public research university. It’s fantastic to see Chancellor Cheek and the university team accept the challenge.