July 18, 2024

No more: Broadcast journalist featured on podcast tells of new chapter after news grind

Wendi Lane talks with Trebor Holder (left) and Austin Buckner (right) during a recording of the Ice Cream Social Podcast at the Warren Cultural Center. All three are natives of Greenfield.

Television journalist Wendi Lane joined fellow Greenfield natives Austin Buckner and Trebor Holder, who host the Ice Cream Sunday Podcast, on a live audience recording of the show Saturday, June 22 at the Warren Cultural Center.

In the hour-long podcast that became available where podcasts are found Sunday, June 30, the hosts speak with Lane about the joys and struggles that come along with covering disaster and sad story day after day.

Lane, who said her favorite stories to tell are ones that include both heartbreak and hope, received an Emmy Award in 2021 for a story she did on a survivor of military sexual assault. He went through a journey of healing and Lane was able to tell his story for others to hear it.

Lane graduated from the University of Iowa with a Journalism degree, but could only find temporary work doing marketing for insurance companies, a job she did not like.

“One night, I came home, and I wasn’t on a good path,” Lane said. “I got down on my knees and said ‘God, if You’re up there, I know You made me to do something so much bigger, so show me what that is.’”

Fast forward not very long and Lane was on a missions trip to Africa. She discovered there were so many stories to tell there and it brought to life her love for storytelling.

Returning to the United States, she went to school for broadcasting in New York City.

One of Lane’s first jobs was in Casper, Wyoming. As it is one of the smaller television markets in the country, Lane’s position was a multimedia journalist, meaning she was a do-it-all talent at the station, responsible for most aspects of her stories from inception to airing.

It was while she covered a flash flooding story in a small Wyoming town that Lane saw the concept of “heartbreak and hope” being in almost every story.

A family she interviewed there kept talking about how grateful they were that they survived, and that their entire town was able to escape harm because firefighters came and knocked on doors in the middle of the night.

While Lane was interviewing the dad, one of the sons came yelling, saying, “I found it, I found it!” He found his beloved football jersey in the mess. It was dirty, but it survived.

“The dad ran up and hugged him. It was one of those moments that you’re just like ‘Wow!’,” Lane said. “These people lost everything but they’re excited about a dirty, wet football jersey they found a half-mile away.”

Lane admitted it’s tough to be in Greenfield because it brings a completely different angle to the disaster, a very personal one. She has teamed up with local photographer Dan Dickinson to chronicle stories of some of the survivors in town for an upcoming project they are doing at the Warren Cultural Center.

“I’ve said my whole life that this community is very special. There is no place like this community or small town Iowa. That’s why these stories are so overwhelming. Every single one of them, it’s baffling. It’s homes completely gone and they’re searching for neighbors, and neighbors they don’t even know,” Lane said. “That’s not happening in [disasters in] other places. Maybe to a certain level, but nothing to the degree that’s happening here. That’s why it’s so beautiful and we’re so proud to be from here.”

Lane’s career began taking a turn during the pandemic. Working in Tampa Bay, Florida, Lane was still able to see the hope in stories, but the heavier side of the stories she was producing became simply too much to carry.

One week, Lane took a couple of days off for mental health and planned to meet and discuss her burnout with her bosses. On the day of that meeting, they needed her to go live on the scene of an active shooter situation for multiple upcoming newscasts.

“This voice inside of me said ‘No more, no more, no more!.’ I get goosebumps talking about it,” Lane said. “I couldn’t do it anymore.”

After some time away from journalism, Lane reconnected with Blessman International, a multi-faceted organization that serves children in South Africa, and the same organization from her previous mission trip. She traveled back to Africa earlier this year to make videos for them and now leads the development team in their Des Moines office.

“It’s a no-brainer,” Lane said. “I love helping people, and to be able to help these kids in Africa that are otherwise in poverty, it’s been such a blessing to be able to work for them.”

Caleb Nelson

Caleb Nelson

Caleb Nelson has served as News Editor of the Adair County Free Press and Fontanelle Observer since Oct. 2017. He and his wife Kilee live in Greenfield. In Greenfield and the greater Adair County area, he values the opportunity to tell peoples' stories, enjoys playing guitar, following all levels of sports, and being a part of his local church.