Sunday, April 28, 2013



(Princeton, New Jersey)--This just in, former CNN Correspondent Soledad O'Brien has accepted a teaching position at Harvard University.  A Harvard alum, O'Brien will spend the next year at the Ivy League school as a "distinguished visiting fellow."  Harvard announces O'Brien will spend the 2013-2014 year delving into topics related to public education in America.  
Though O'Brien left her daily hosting gig at CNN, she said she would continue to work with the network producing documentaries independently with her own production company.

"Embracing The Possibilities"-Princeton University
Soledad O'Brien is joining a growing elite number of seasoned journalists who are venturing out on their own and creating their own brand. Katie Couric, Anderson Cooper, Regis Philbin, they're all experienced television personalities who are finding a marginal amount of success without the benefit of call letters at the end of their names.  The digital explosion and the world wide web is making it possible to make what may have only been considered a "dream"--reality!

I instantly thought of Soledad as I took advantage of an unexpected opportunity of my own.
While visiting my brother and his family in Mount Laurel, New Jersey I discovered I was only a "stone's throw away" from greatest institution of higher learning-Princeton University.

I was absolutely astonished by Princeton. My first step on the campus literally took my breath away.  Princeton is everything you've heard and more.  It's the stuff dreams are made of for a lot of kids who grew up in inner cities like me.

Though I wasn't born with a "silver spoon" in my mouth, I truly believe I did okay while attending high school and college in Alabama.  But come on, Princeton? Honestly?  For so many years I didn't think my grades, background or culture would every afford me an opportunity to enroll, not to mention visit this great institution.                                

But, perhaps Soledad accepting  her "fellowship" at Harvard gave me the courage to at least explore "the possibilities!" You are only limited by the "limitations you place on yourself!" For the last 3 years built a consulting firm, Walton and Associates solely on what I've experienced and mastered when it comes to deadlines, investigative reporting and covering disasters and catastrophes like tornadoes and the BP Oil spill which paralyzed the Gulf Coast.  

I truly believe if given a chance, everything I've experienced as a producer, reporter, anchor, could be transferred into an actual classroom.  So, why not Princeton, Harvard or Yale for that matter? Never will you find an instructor/visiting fellow with the "drive, fortitude, insight and passion."

Unfortunately more than 50 percent of the instructors in the mass communications departments in  major universities in this country have very little practical experience.  In fact, less than 50% have stepped into an actual newsroom. I'm reminded of an old adage that echoed in my ear as I produced a newscast and two talk shows in Mobile and was bored by the professors at The University of South Alabama-"if you can't do, teach!"              
The April Chill Doesn't Dampen The Dream of " No Limitations"

I have no doubt I could bring the same love and passion that spans nearly two decades in the business into a classroom setting.  Why not a Big 10 or Princeton? Again, my new found belief "no limits!"

I've always dreamed of walking the halls of Princeton as a visiting lecturer, educating the 21st century journalists about an industry that never has two days that are the same. This week that dream literally became one step closer into becoming reality with my visit to Princeton, NJ.  Walking down the corridors of this ancient institution of scholastic achievers I got a real sense of something bigger than myself.

Tour Guides- Mr. Mrs. Ronald Wesley 
I wanted to publicly thank Ronald and Kim
Wesley for planting the seed of a commitment to
excellence.  The same warmth, integrity and accuracy I used to master my skills as a "season, proven" television news reporter could make a difference in "influencing the next generation of 21st century journalists."      
Princeton's a long shot, but then again--"my God is awesome!"  He is capable of doing things exceedingly, over and beyond anything we could imagine.  Today I've discovered a new found  respect and admiration for higher education.  I truly believe in about 10 years I might consider helping students tap into their passion with their chosen careers.

My unexpected opportunity of visiting Princeton University has "renewed, recharged and inspired" me to reach higher heights. Wait until Dr. Cornel West gets a load of me!  I would be considered as unorthodox because I would immediately encourage the students to close the textbooks.

Like being a parent, there's no perfect "manual" on how to become an awesome journalist or storyteller.
For that, you've simply got to experience it all first hand--we're talking practical experience. Get out and write about what you see and above all, tell me why it matters and how it affects "RP's!"  After all, if it doesn't affect "real people," why are we doing it?  Journalism 101!

From Prichard to Princeton?

Thursday, April 18, 2013



Stephen Nodine
(MOBILE, AL.)--It would appear folks along the Gulf Coast are not the only ones intrigued by the Stephen Nodine-Angel Downs story!  
48 HOURS: "POWER AND PASSION" was Saturday night's #1 program in viewers and households, according to the Nielsen ratings.  

Stephen Nodine's "torrid tale of loosing it all for love" is the CBS's News weekly series' "most watched" profile since May 2012. The producers of the award winning news magazine  spent more than 6 months investigating both sides of this continuing saga.

Steve Nodine, a former County Commission for Mobile County was at one time, considered one of the most promising, prominent politicians in Alabama.  Love him or loathe him, Nodine is credited for helping to boost Mobile's crippling economy.  He is noted for helping to lure ThyssenKrupp Industries to Mobile County.  Nodine is also credited, in part for helping The City of Mobile become a serious contender in the fight for the Air Force and its next generation of refueling tankers. Mobile eventually  lost the bid, but the biggest looser would ultimately be Stephen Nodine.  Soon after Boeing was awarded that contract,  the dark-hidden secrets of this trusted politician began to seriously unravel.

Angel Downs
Full disclosure here,  I was one of the many journalists in the City of Mobile who still has a friendship of sorts with Nodine long after the shocking arrest and murder charge of his former mistress Angel Downs.  Nodine, as many of us referred to him in the newsroom at WPMI-TV (NBC Affiliate) in Mobile was popular among many of the television news stations in the market because unlike many other politicians he was charismatic, "talked in soundbites" and quite frankly, I seriously believe could  "sell a blind man a camera." His power of persuasion was at times didn't go unnoticed.  

I remember that fateful Monday morning in May 2010.  I received a call from the producer overnight telling me that Stephen Nodine was being sought as a person of interest in the death of his girlfriend longtime girlfriend Angel Downs.  

I remember waking up immediately out of a deep sleep in total shock.  It was almost as if my feet couldn't hit the floor fast enough to run out the door and into the newsroom. "Stephen Nodine arrested,  Stephen Nodine arrested!" Those words played over and over in my head as I headed into the television building.  As I touched up my make-up to tell the rest of the world about this breaking news,  I clearly remember thinking if Stephen Nodine thought anything of the mother of his child--none of this would have happened. Angel Downs was shot and killed after spending a long day at the beach with Stephen Nodine on Mother's Day.

Angel Downs and Stephen Nodine
Nearly three years later,  this story of "sex, lies and audiotape" still lingers on.  A voicemail recording Angel Downs and Facebook posts she reportedly left behind only minutes before she was killed was apart of the mountain of evidence and testimony in this case.

Today there are still so many lingering questions in this case of the Alabama politician's fall from grace. What happened on that fateful day in May 2010? Was it murder or suicide?  Did Stephen Nodine kill his long time mistress Angel Downs?  

Nodine was tried for murder, but a jury could not reach a verdict in his case.  Baldwin County court documents show he accepted a plea bargin in which he admitted to a domestic violence charge and a perjury offense related to a form he filled out for a court-appoint attorney.

Nodine who maintains Downs shot herself continues to fight to clear his name.  ALL NEW--VISION/VOICE/VARION has learned Stephen Nodine filed an ethics complaint this week against the U.S. Attorney's office and other federal officials in an unrelated gun prosecution.  Stephen Nodine is still living and working along the Gulf Coast. Prosecutors continue to pursue other unrated charges against Nodine on a weapons charge.

Stephen Nodine Taken into Custody in Baldwin County


Tuesday, April 16, 2013



AP PHOTO--Runners & Spectators Shocked By Blast in Boston

(Boston, Massachusetts)--Shock, disgust, horror! These are just a few of the words still embedded in my brain as I wake up the morning after The Boston Marathon Tragedy. The continuing news coverage, the bloody images of dismembered limbs, the screams and sound, it's all too much.

Though it happened on U.S. soil it's just not our nation!  Thousands of the runners crowded into Downtown Boston for this annual marathon were from England, China, Africa and Australia. This is a "world tragedy!"

As the world watches, back here at home one thing is certain, even the most basic community experience of coming together and having fun has been compromised. The Hangout Festival is weeks away in Gulf Shores. Organizers in Huntsville are putting the finishing touches on Panoply, another  annual event that attracts thousands in Big Spring Park in North, Alabama.  I can only imagine the music, the stage, the outdoor extravaganza is secondary now to safety.  Organizers and municipalities everywhere are now wondering could it happen here?  Are we truly safe anywhere?

The Boston tragedy shows us how nonchalant we have become about living. How many times have you gone through the airport and frowned at the TSA?  This almost has a Newtown, Connect feeling where it "hits too close to home!"  Common everyday folks going about their everyday business  are now the target.  Where they live, breathe, shop, run is now on the attack.  Wake up America, much like Europe our everyday lives and simple things we take for granted are increasingly becoming more vulnerable to those who hate.                

This tragedy serves as a wake up call to "expect the unexpected" and stay vigilant. The police and The FBI simply can't  be everywhere, all the time.  You can't prevent everything and our nation's leaders and security officials can't stop it all.  

Nothing is guaranteed and this tragedy simply can't alter how we live everyday life. Our consciousness is heightened and Boston has left us more than aware of just how "fleeting our time with our family can truly be." 

As we all struggle to deal with the "freeze frame" of those horrific images that continue to play over and over in our minds,  lets also remember the images of strangers running to the finish line to help.  Remember the people who went from picking up make shift gurney to rolling up their sleeves at hospital emergency rooms to donate blood. We can't allow the enemy to win. We simply have to take a cue from the rest of the world and live our lives with "the new norm," a heightened awareness of "what if?"  This week's Boston tragedy is a sobering reminder--"America is not immune!"

Sunday, April 14, 2013

2013 Essence Festival Nightly Line Up!


(NEW ORLEANS, LA.)---The 2013 Essence Music Festival Line-up is almost set!  Which night will you rock out to some of the best in R&B, Hip Hop and Neo-Soul?  Essence Music Fest in New Orleans, Louisiana is more than an event, it's a reunion.  Some of the hottest performers in the world descend on "The Big Easy" leaving their mark in the most memorable way.    
Gina Brown & Anutha Level Performing July 4th
ALL NEW:  My girl Gina Brown officially kicks off the party with an "explosive" performance July 4th.  Be sure to join the "Empress of New Orleans" and Mayor Mitch Landrieu as they welcome thousands to this colorful hot bed for fun and entertainment.

VISION/VOICE/VARION is also gearing up to bring you another exciting year of "all things Essence!" VVV...."your all access pass to some of the hottest musical performances this summer!"  Stay close!
Singer Trey Songz & Varion Walton-Photo By-"E" Photo

"Red Carpet Ready!"

Wednesday, April 3, 2013



(Huntsville, Alabama)---I've got mine and soon you'll get your opportunity to get your copy of Terry Townsend's new CD "MUTUAL LOVE AFFAIR!" Terry Townsend is changing the game when it comes to your father's ROCK OF AGES!  I was fortunate enough to get an advanced copy of his title track single "Mutual Love Affair" weeks ago and loved it!  Now, hot off the press I am now driving down the interstate rocking out and lifting "holy hands" to my advance copy of the full CD.  Let's just say, "membership has it's privileges!" I will get into my connection to Townsend in just a minute, but trust me this one is worth getting.  Right now I am having a hard time deciding my favorite cut from at least four individual tracks on this album.

Of late I've enjoyed gospel that is considered "out of the box," and comes with a more of an edgy sound.  Mutual Love Affair satisfies the "music lover" in me because speaks to every side of my musical taste.  It is a creative blend of gospel, jazz and rhythm and blues.

Townsend who hails from a musical family calls Tanner, Alabama home. Tanner is a small bedroom community just outside of Huntsville.  I recently discovered he comes from a large musical family and has an extended family of aunts and uncles from a marriage of nearly three decades. He was fortunate enough to marry his childhood sweetheart Tammy and enjoys a simple life with her and their three daughters.  The more I am around him and his family I've learned to appreciate the joy he finds in "easy living." Laid back is the best way to sum up his personality and his unique sound on every single of "Mutual Love Affair."

Townsend, who penned every song on "Mutual Love Affair" sings passionately about his faithfulness to God, but in a unique and non-traditional way. It's so unique that you almost forget that you're listening to gospel--and not R&B.  "Mutual Love Affair" could easily go either way--it has a tremendous amount of cross-over appeal.  I dare to say his upbeat tempo singles "What So Ever" and "I Can't Stop" remind me of another crooner with close-knit ties to Alabama,  Eric Benet.

Terry Townsend is not just a featured artist, he knows what it is to "share the spotlight."  He still sings in the church he grew up in every Sunday with a male gospel group.  He is very versatile and extremely  generous when it comes to a "spirit of giving" which is evident as he shares the spotlight with his rich, sultry duets--"Mutual Love Affair" and "Be Strong."

Townsend told VISION/VOICE/VARION viewers in an earlier interview he considers "Mutual Love Affair" some of his best work to date.   His first CD entitled, "The Blessed Project" earned him critical acclaim around the world, including the UK more than 10 years ago. A decade later Townsend and his "musical genius" producer Kelvin Wooten are on track to turning heads again.

Wooten, also based in North Alabama, earned national attention with "Freedom," a single that ended up on the original soundtrack and in a pivotal scene of the movie "Django Unchained!"  The critically acclaimed single was recorded by Grammy Award winning R&B singer Anthony Hamilton and newcomer Elayna Boynton.

Full disclosure here: My connection to Townsend, Wooten and Hamilton has strictly been on a professional level.  My company has had the privilege of generating a lot of publicity surrounding their individual projects.  With that said, I don't think there's a conflict of interest with me simply saying they are all talented individuals.  Let's face it their work speaks for itself.  Whether it is gospel, R&B, contemporary jazz--together, the Townsend and Wooten team are about to give music lovers who are in the market for "something different" a real earful!

For more information on the CD release date and performance schedule for Terry Townsend, visit his official FACEBOOK fan page and website at:  and

Monday, April 1, 2013



(Huntsville, AL.)--Attention Tennessee Valley, don't miss out on this amazing night of "PRAISE AND WORSHIP!" Back by popular demand, Inspirational/Gospel Artist and Christian Rapper Canton Jones is heading back to Huntsville and he's bringing with him an amazing message of love and hope. The 2nd Annual Unity Concert will feature some of the best performing artists in North Alabama.  This event is designed with you in mind so come and get your praise on! Don't miss it!