Rod McKee, WBRZ’s chief photographer, Dies at 58

Rod McKee, the lead photographer at WBRZ, passed away on Thursday, leaving behind a wonderful father, brother, son, and coworker.

Rod was one of the greatest television newscasters of the 1980s, working for three decades for two Baton Rouge television stations. In his most recent assignment, Rod managed the visual style of WBRZ’s on-location reporting, managing a group of veteran news photographers and aspiring reporters eager to pick his brain.

The real workers in a newspaper are the photographers, who are the first on the scene of breaking news and the last to depart as they plunge headfirst into the mayhem. Rod always expected his troops to be prepared for action.

Rod passed away in the presence of his loved ones after a protracted fight with the malignancy of multiple myeloma.

“Our close-knit TV family lost part of our center today.  Rod covered just about every major story in Baton Rouge for a generation.  This is tough.  We’re coming together for his legacy and his family’s support today,” WBRZ owner and president Richard Manship said.

He has partnered with WBRZ anchor and 2 On Your Side investigator Brittany Weiss for the past few years to help make things right for those who have been victimized by the government, dishonest contractors, and shady persons.


“Rod was a great person to start the workday with and we covered a lot of ground together,” Brittany Weiss said Thursday.  “He was my 2 On Your Side partner, a problem solver with decades of knowledge.  He had an expert eye for detail.  I will remember our stories, jokes and mornings together spent capturing the images he loved to share with viewers,” she said.

He worked closely with primetime anchor Sylvia Weatherspoon during her weekly 2 Make A Difference segments to capture some of the best moments in life as well as the worst. Rod enjoyed doing community service; it wasn’t just a task he had to complete.

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“Everyone in the newsroom wanted Rod to shoot their stories. He always brought his ‘A’ game. His excellent skills as a photographer made all of us better writers and storytellers,” Sylvia Weatherspoon said Thursday.

Rod and Sylvia were already putting the finishing touches on their annual Christmas tradition: Sylvia’s Spirit of Christmas special reports, which they were excited to broadcast on television.

Rod McKee’s career and family.

He was a skilled news photographer who had a thorough understanding of Baton Rouge’s streets. Rod, a native of Baton Rouge, was familiar with the people and places that made our community unique. He was raised in Old South Baton Rouge, not far from WBRZ. He recalled a period when he used to play on the hills that roll up to the Highland Road television studio.

Later, Rod attended McKinley High and Southern University; to support his Jaguars, he frequently wore blue to work.

Rod served as chief photographer and served as a mentor, fervently instructing and guiding the upcoming group of television journalists. In order to keep Rod’s memory alive from coast to coast, the colleagues he assisted in guiding are currently covering news all around the country.

Rod’s memory will continue to be carried by his colleagues in the Baton Rouge newsroom as they continue to fight for justice, tell stories for those who need them, and hold the powerful accountable.

Rod McKee, 58, leaves behind two daughters, a grandson, his mother, and the mother of his daughters. He was a beloved member of the WBRZ family and the Baton Rouge community. Joe McCoy, his cousin, works for WBRZ as an investigative news photographer.

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