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    Local TV news anchor authors novel about broadcasting

    John Culea was the guest of honor recently at a book signing party at Berean Christian Store in San Diego. The television newscaster was there to promote his first novel, Light the Night, which was released by ChariotVictor Publishing in February. Shoppers stopped to shake his hand, get their books autographed, and chat with him about his new novel and his television broadcasting.

    The idea for Light the Night came from an actual nationwide event called “Light the Night” where once a year people turn on their porch lights, go outside and meet their neighbors in an effort to reduce crime. Culea’s novel is the story of what happens when a morning television newscaster challenges his community to light the city every night and take their neighborhoods back from the street gangs. The community’s response makes life complicated, challenging and dangerous for him and other individuals in the story. The mixture of adventure, suspense and love keeps readers turning the pages.

    Culea’s insight into television news comes from 27 years of television broadcasting experience. For the last 17 years, he has worked on the news staff of KFMB-TV, Channel 8, and currently co-anchors the top-rated 5:30-8 morning news and the noon edition of News 8. For his outstanding work in journalism, he received six Emmy awards — his first in Chicago and five while on the news staff of Channel 8.

    Light the Night gives readers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into what really happens in television news. “The characters are a compilation of people I worked with and for,” Culea said. “I wanted to show the power of the media to do good, to galvanize a community — and the evil that can creep in when television management becomes consumed with greed, power and ratings.”

    Culea also wanted to communicate the Gospel in a fictional setting in a way that is relevant to people today. “We need to get real,” he said. “We need to cut through the fluff and platitudes and cliches to get to where people really are.” He said his book, written from a Christian perspective, carries a clear presentation of the possibility of having a relationship with God — of what that life can be.

    “Book sales have been steady,” Culea said. “I’m told the book has passed the 6,000 mark.” He is pleased with the public’s reaction to his first novel. He has received letters from people in television, law enforcement, and prison who confirm the book’s accuracy. He said his co-workers are very supportive of the book. “They appreciate its honesty.”

    As a Christian in broadcasting, Culea holds himself to a very high standard. “I’m careful my opinion doesn’t come into the news,” he said. “My job is to present the news and let people make up their own minds.”

    Last year, when a newspaper writer accused him of an ethics conflict because he introduced the speaker at an anti-abortion rally, Culea said he did not feel his role at the rally compromised him as a fair-minded news anchor. His news director, Steve Ramsey, supported Culea’s decision to take part in the event and said, “the important thing is that he’s able to report stories in a balanced manner.”

    In addition to broadcasting and writing, Culea has been teaching broadcast journalism at Pt. Loma Nazarene College for 10 years. “I want to encourage young people to develop a love of writing,” he said. “I tell them to write about everything and to write the way people talk.”

    He is a frequent speaker at churches, schools, and community groups in San Diego. In the future, he would like to speak at more churches and be involved with conference ministry to men and young married couples at centers like Hume Lake and Forest Home.

    Culea has a passion for writing. In addition to Light the Night, he wrote articles that have been published in Reader’s Digest and San Diego Magazine. His second novel, Best Moves, is scheduled for release during the summer of 1998. He is also working on two more books — a nonfiction book to show Christians how they can use television news stories to share their faith with others and a novel on church leadership.

    When asked about his successes, Culea points to the victory God has given him in Jesus. “I’ve been granted wisdom to recognize the hope God has given me through Christ,” he said. “Success has nothing to do with fame, finances or power — they’re so fleeting, temporary, superficial. Success is confidence in an afterlife.”

    Culea has been a Christian since he was seven years old. He and his wife, Patti, have two adult daughters, Janet and Heidi. The family attends Emmanuel Faith Community Church in Escondido where he is on the elder board.

    Culea will be speaking at Tierrasanta Seventh-Day Adventist Church at the 11 a.m. service on July 12 and at both morning services at Horizon Christian Fellowship on Aug. 10.

    For more information about his activities, write to John Culea at KFMB-TV, P. O. Box 85888, San Diego, CA 92186-5888, fax 560-0627, or call him at 495-7583.

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