High Five: Lora Chance
By Sue Brown
Every so often, things in life just come together. The sky is bright and sunny for a planned family outing. Our boss tells us the company is planning a four day closing, instead of the normal three, over a holiday weekend. We are worried about financial challenges and out of the blue, you come upon some unexpected assets. Some things we plan and some things happen by fate—and chance! The coming together of Lora Chance and Sonny Dixon just happens to be a little of both.Now twenty three years old, Lora clearly remembers WTOC, the Savannah CBS affiliate, on in her Richmond Hill home when she was a young girl. “It was the only news my family ever watched.” Now, she is a producer at the very same station and after meeting her, it was evident that she was right where she was always meant to be. After an Internship at “The Southeast News Leader” during the summer or 2009, the Richmond Hill resident was offered a full-time position as a producer, a few months later! This is highly unusual.
Not only that, but she is being mentored by long-time, Savannah television icon, Sonny Dixon, and produces his News NOW at 4 segment which airs each weekday. Lora also was instrumental in the launch of the station’s newest show shortly after her hire. In addition to his long tenure at the station, Sonny served our state in the Georgia House of Representatives, having been elected to five terms.
The rapport and mutual respect between them is evident even amidst the goodhearted teasing. Lora Chance is a wonderful example of a strong work ethic and dedication to excel at her job. She attributes that to her dad and says, “My dad told me always to do the best you can at the job you are doing.” This is good advice for all of our country’s youth and is not wasted on his daughter who has embraced that philosophy. Perhaps, Sonny Dixon also sees traits in the young woman which often seem to elude Generation “Y.”
“There is an air of entitlement that is often accompanied by arrogance, among the young people today,” he admits. However, in Lora he sees strong character, honor, and impressive work ethics. That’s an asset to someone as busy and in demand as Sonny, who often found that, “There just wasn’t enough time to get things done.” Now, he has Lora who is by his own admission—his “right arm.” That’s quite a compliment.
Lora is the daughter of Paul and Jeanie Chance and has a brother, Paul Jr. who is several years younger. Her dad is a machinist and History buff and mom an Intensive Care nurse. A 2005 graduate of RHHS, she is another shining example of the wonderful school system in our town. She spoke of classes during high school in film and television taught by Ms. Turner and several other classes that she took with Coach Kollman which allowed her to “come out of her shell.” Although, very soft-spoken, there is the feeling that Lora can more than hold her own if necessary. After high school she was a student at Georgia Southern for three years and transferred to Armstrong Atlantic State University to finish her English-Communications degree. She graduated summa cum laude in 2009. Initially, she believed she would be a high school English teacher herself, but came to realize the television business was where her heart lay.
It is obvious that Lora has always worked hard even before joining WTOC. During her time at Georgia Southern she worked at The Shell House, which is located at the intersection of I-95 and Rte. 204—a long ride from the Statesboro campus. In addition, she took classes in the summer months and even with the transferring of schools, she managed to graduate in four years, just shy of her 22nd Birthday. Sonny spoke of a particular Friday evening when it was long past the normal time to go home and Lora was still at her desk working! That attention to work is exactly what makes the young woman so important to her employer.
What is also noteworthy are the compliments paid by Sonny on Lora’s writing ability and her knack to know “…just how I would say something. In most of her scripts, I don’t need to change one thing. I can just read them cold.” There appears to be a great deal to be said about a person watching you on television for years and years. It’s as if they are inside your head. That is what seems to be happening between Lora and her mentor in any event. In addition, with similar roots in the Savannah area, they know what’s important to their viewing audience. Producer Chance has tapped into that asset; she just knows how someone, Sonny Dixon in this case, is going to react or think about a specific news situation. That’s a boon for her mentor.
When Lora took a school outing to WTOC and saw both the studio and familiar faces, which she had watched for years on her own television, she knew she had found her future home. Once there, Sonny says, “I just opened the door and she ran through it.” It is equally important to both of them to give just as much attention to the viewers and local news from the far reaching areas of the station’s viewing network as it is to focus on Savannah and its immediate surrounding area. It’s apparent that the young producer “gets” that a man and woman mentioned in Vidalia for a 60th Wedding Anniversary celebration, would also appreciate a mention that her husband thinks she makes the best red velvet cake around!
As we sat chatting for a considerable time, it was impressive that these two people—who had a show to produce and present, later that afternoon, made me feel: welcome, unhurried, and included. It was first hand witnessing of the traits that make the south as wonderful as it is. Mr. Dixon has an ability to make one feel as if there is no one more important than them and there is nowhere else he has to be or things he needs to be doing when he’s with them. Already I had sensed that too in Lora, who had put her boxed lunch on hold at her desk for several hours to meet with me. She also suggested a tour of the studio before we parted.
Without a doubt in the inevitable future, we will watch the news torch pass from the old regime to the new regime. The technology evolves continuously, the television personalities come and go, and the news and its focus—as we have witnessed—change moment to moment. However, one thing is a constant. There is no teacher as good as hands on experience. Couple that with a mentor who is willing to guide you and believe in your capabilities, it’s a winning combination. It preserves the values of what’s important in life and at the same time allows for changes and forward thinking. In Lora’s case, it’s not just chance, but rather a safe bet, that she will be in the news industry for many years to come. We’ll be watching!
Author’s Note: In HIGH FIVE, I write about ordinary people who go above and beyond to make the lives of others better. Usually, they are not even aware of their impact on those around them. If you know of individuals in our community who are ordinary people who do extraordinary things and are positive examples of integrity, honor, and dedication, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for future consideration. Include your phone number and a brief write-up about your candidate(s).