Sticky Wicket

Sticky Wicket: Louisiana Politics Versus the Press is a new mini series out of WWNO New Orleans Public Radio and WRKF Baton Rouge that takes on four historic clashes between Louisiana politicians and the media, one at a time. These relationships have always been love/hate in the Pelican state.

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Why 'Sticky Wicket'?

Our title was derived from an interview between host Laine Kaplan-Levenson and LSU professor Alecia Long. Towards the end of their conversation, Alecia Long referred to Huey Long, stating,

He's a good story. And see, this is a very critical thing to think through for the media, about how you cover a politician who you believe might be engaged in things that are improper, potentially illegal or unwise. And yet at the same time, your obligation is to cover the news...And so there's a real sticky wicket in a lot of this about the kind of symbiotic relationship between media outlets, and a politician like Huey Long. You could not ignore him. And so you have to cover him, even if you're covering him critically which keeps him at the forefront.

The term ‘Sticky Wicket’ comes from the English game of cricket, but Alecia Long uses it in the more contemporary definition, a metaphor for 'a difficult circumstance.' We feel this describes, in a playful, and real way, the tough situation politicians and the press find themselves in as two pillars of our society who are often at odds, and yet must coexist to uphold a democracy.

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Episode #1: Former Louisiana governor and US senator Huey Long: his rise to power through his mastery of the media, and then, once in power, the war he waged against it. Airs Tuesday Nov. 13, 6:30 p.m.

Episode #2: Former New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison: his use of media to control his image during and after his investigation into the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Airs Tuesday Nov. 27, 6:30 p.m.

Episode #3: Former New Orleans mayor Ernest ‘Dutch’ Morial: the city saw its first ever police strike  during the first year of his administration 1979. Why’d the police strike then, why was Mardi Gras canceled, and who did the city side with? Airs Tuesday Dec. 11, 6:30 p.m.

Episode #4: Louisiana’s first female governor, Kathleen Blanco: how the media depicted her in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Blanco’s own reflections on that experience today. Tuesday Dec. 18, 6:30 p.m.


  • Laine Kaplan-Levenson - Host/Producer
  • Eve Troeh - Editor
  • Mara Lazer - Assistant Producer
  • Peter J Bowling - Composer
  • Riley Tehan - Graphic Designer
  • Jasper Means - Illustrator


Sticky Wicket is part of the “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” Initiative administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils. The initiative seeks to deepen the public’s knowledge and appreciation of the vital connections between democracy, the humanities, journalism, and an informed citizenry. The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities thanks The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their generous support of this initiative and the Pulitzer Prizes for their partnership. This radio series and podcast runs in tandem with four articles written in the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities’ 64 Parishes magazine, and is also in partnership with Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Communication.

Kathleen Babineaux Blanco: a carpet cleaner’s daughter from New Iberia turned school teacher turned stay-at-home mom turned…Louisiana's first female governor. In 2003, her focus was on education reform, juvenile justice, and economic development. And halfway into her first and only term, it looked like she had a good chance at re-election. But that all changed, with Hurricane Katrina. 

In 1979, Ernest "Dutch" Morial became the first black mayor of New Orleans. He won the election with 95% of the black vote, and just 20% of the white vote. He campaigned on a platform of police reform, but it wasn’t just Dutch who wanted to re-organize the NOPD – they were organizing themselves. They wanted a union, pay increases, and better working conditions. Soon after Dutch took office, the police wasted no time. They staged their first strike, in history. Their bargaining tool? Mardi Gras.

When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22nd, 1963, people around the country quickly rejected their government's conclusion that a sole assassin committed the crime. A slew of conspiracy theories took hold, but only one conspiracy theorist transferred his theories into actual arrests. Jim Garrison, District Attorney of New Orleans, was media savvy, and skillfully attracted TV cameras, reporters, and supporters with his giant claims. In 1967, the world watched Garrison insist that he had “solved the assassination.” But who was at fault?


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Huey Pierce Long: you either loved him, or hated him. He had thousands of adoring fans, and fearful enemies. Long went from traveling salesman to Louisiana Governor, and then US senator, through his mastery of the media. Then once in power, he waged a war against it.