Emmy award-winning news anchor, social media influencer, author: the list goes on for Cincinnati native Shannon LaNier.
LaNier, 43, has spent his life building a comprehensive resume that highlights his professional achievements and reflects his love of fatherhood and his efforts to preserve his familial ancestry.
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Before his current role as an anchor for the live streaming news network Cheddar News, LaNier held anchor positions at Black News Channel (BNC), CW39 Morning show in Houston and the global pop culture show “Arise Entertainment 360” on BET. But how did LaNier get his start in journalism?
Shannon LaNier’s award-winning start in news
While attending Hughes STEM High School, he hosted the 1997 regional Emmy Award-winning television show “Real Exchange” with WCPO-TV, which explored issues important to young people in Greater Cincinnati.
“It was like a teen summit kind of vibe… It was about the young people of Cincinnati giving their voice. That opportunity to be heard. We talked about important issues to us, and it was a pretty amazing opportunity,” LaNier said.
During his time on the show, he also had the opportunity to interview Jerry Springer, the former mayor of Cincinnati and host of the syndicated talk show “Jerry Springer.”
“It was a pretty fun experience to go to Hughes and to be part of everything that was happening in Cincinnati,” he explained.
Upon graduation, LaNier attended Kent State University, receiving a bachelor’s and a master’s in media management and electronic media production. It’s also where he met his now wife, Chandra. This incredible experience, as he describes it, led him to New York City where he would grow a successful career as an on-air news anchor and start a family of five.
About his interest in journalism, LaNier said, “There wasn’t like a certain moment where I was like, oh, this person inspires me…No one in my family was involved in it. It’s just one of those things I gravitated to, loved being creative and doing me.”
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But the path to success has not always been easy for the local media personality. Before landing his current gig as a Cheddar News Anchor, LaNier worked for Black News Channel (BNC) and had only been there one year before the company filed for bankruptcy.
“I just loved the thought of Black News Channel and what they were trying to create, but then they filed for bankruptcy. So I had to take a turn in direction… I had to figure something else out. And that’s when I changed directions and started looking for opportunities. And luckily, Cheddar was looking for somebody, and it was perfect timing,” LaNier explained.
How Shannon LaNier became a viral TikTok dad
After nearly two decades in the industry, LaNier has cultivated a successful broadcast career. Now he’s using his on-air talent to grow a brand on the popular short-form video app, TikTok. Posting under the username @MrShannonLanier, what began as a hobby has grown into a full-fledged social media influencing gig with over 468,000 followers.
LaNier told The Enquirer that he never imagined his platform would take off the way it has.
“I just started posting videos that I love, and it’s given me an opportunity to spend time with my kids and to show a positive image of an African American father who was very involved, positively in his kid’s lives,” he said.
LaNier has since utilized his growing platform to highlight not only himself but other involved dads by starting his podcast “Daddy Duty 365,” where he interviews celebrity dads about the good, the bad and the ugly of fatherhood. Some of the podcast guests include Sting, Chris Pratt, Omari Hardwick, Paul Wall, Boris Kodjoe and more.
“Hey, it’s not just me. I’m not a unicorn. There’s other dads out here doing great stuff,” he said.
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Descendant of Thomas Jefferson: A complicated family lineage
LaNier’s emphasis on family also led him to dive deeper into his lineage and ancestral connection to one former U.S. president: Thomas Jefferson. LaNier is the great, great, great-grandson of the Founding Father and third U.S. president and an enslaved woman, Sally Hemmings, a fact he’s known about himself since childhood.
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“My mother, Priscilla, who still lives in Cincinnati, she taught my brother and I about the oral history of our family and the lineage that we come from, just like many other families when they find out who their grandparents are,” he said.
It wasn’t until he met Jane Feldman, the co-author of his 2000 book “Jefferson’s Children: The Story of One American Family,” that he began to meet more of Jefferson and Hemmings’ descendants. He said that the ability to travel the world, meet his extended relatives, hear their stories and turn them into a book for the world to read was a life-changing experience.
The news anchor said the journey of documenting his family history had been one of healing and exploration. He hopes that readers of his book get a glimpse into his life, find a deeper appreciation for their own lives, and leave with a willingness to explore the complexities of our world by focusing on what connects us rather than what divides us.
“If my family can come together, despite being separated from years of slavery and discrimination, if we can come together and unify and consider each other as family, then maybe one day the world could get past the issues that they have and come together and unify for better a cause.”
Watch “Wake up with Cheddar” weekdays, 7-9 a.m. ET and check out LaNier’s new show “Celebrity Lemonade Stand” Sundays at 9 p.m. exclusively on Cheddar News.