Stephen is no stranger to the Wiregrass. He got his start in journalism in 1993 when he covered Geneva High School football for the Enterprise Ledger during his junior year in high school.
Following his senior year of high school he once again got a call to cover Geneva High athletics, this time for his hometown newspaper, the Geneva County Reaper. Stephen wasn't with the paper long before being offered the opportunity to cover general news stories as well as sports stories for the entire county.
Over the next seven years, Stephen juggled going to school and working for the paper full time. During this time he moved from general reporting to working as the Samson beat writer to eventually being promoted to Sports Editor.
During that time Stephen covered numerous stories including the two historic floods in the city of Geneva in 2004 and 2008, the murder of Holmes County Deputy Lonnie Lindsey and the still unsolved murder of Lucky Griswold.
Stephen left the newspaper in December of 2001 for one year before returning to cover sports on a part-time basis once again. In October of 2002, Stephen became the editor of The Samson Ledger, The Hartford News-Herald and The Geneva County Reaper. He led all three newspapers for the next seven years as editor before stepping down in December of 2008.
Stephen covered a number of high profile stories in Geneva County during his second stint at the paper including the deadly Enterprise tornado in 2007 and the the deadly Samson shooting rampage in 2009.
The deadly Enterprise tornado took place on March 1, 2007. The storm destroyed Enterprise High School. Nine people lost their lives that day. The damage from the storm was so significant that President George W. Bush visited the area to survey the damage.
Just over two years later 10 people lost their lives in a deadly shooting rampage in the small town of Samson. Stephen was the first reporter on the scene when the suspect finally took his life after a shootout with law enforcement. Stephen appeared on "The Today Show" and was interviewed by Meridth Viera about the shootings. He also appeared on CNN, MSNBC, MSNBC Radio and BBC Radio.
Two months after the shooting, Stephen left Geneva Newspapers to work on his own news website and continue the photography business.
Stephen joined the WDHN News team as a web reporter. Six months later he went to work full-time as the Assignment Manger. Stephen was responsible for reporter assignments each day. In addition to this he handled all website content for Dothanfirst.com and has produced the 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. newscasts.
In May of 2015, longtime News Director Ken Curtis retired from WDHN. Stephen was given the opportunity to take on that role.
A graduate of Geneva High School, Stephen spent a total of 16 years in the newspaper industry.
Stephen is married to Allison Leonard of Milton, Florida and they have one daughter Blakely.
Stephen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime and is always interested in hearing from viewers and looking for news story ideas!
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