(Columbia) February 27, 2006 - When it came to her most unforgettable stories, Susan Aude says it's hard to top one of the most damaging hurricanes in American history, "The impact that had on the entire state was just, almost unfathomable. I mean, nobody could have told us ahead of time what that was going to be like."
But, when you spend 27 years in TV, most of that time in the anchor chair, the parade of daily events can become a blur. Maybe that's why some of the stories that Susan says stand out, were the ones that took her outside the building and into the Midlands community that she served.
In 1988 the Republican National Convention at the Superdome in New Orleans stands out in her memory. It was eye-opening, even for a seasoned journalist, "Just from the way it operates and also seeing the way the huge amount of media that are there. It's just unbelievable and how all that works and how everybody is reporting, and as far as you can see this way and as far as you can see that way, there's all these reporters."
Susan covered some blockbuster stories during the 1980s. A year before the Republican Convention, she watched in amazement as Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass at Williams-Brice Stadium. And just before the PTL empire fell apart, she took on Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker.
Not all of her best moments involved hard news. In 1996, Susan's contributions to the community gave her an opportunity to carry the Olympic torch, "That was incredible. To go around the corner, it was 104 degrees, and see all these South Carolinians out there cheering you on in this oppressive heat, and yet they turned out for the torch. And getting to carry that..."
She rubbed shoulders with giants of broadcast news, Cronkite and Brokaw. Susan found a kindred spirit when she met actor Christopher Reeve. She went one on one with Laura Bush.
And her iron will in overcoming disability made Susan herself an inspiration, her story told many times on national TV.
Of course, this is also a business that from time to time, has its share of lowlights. But Susan says she might have enjoyed her job most away from bright lights and big names while working on the stories that brought her face to face with average South Carolinians, "Out of the mouths of these people would pour these incredible insights and wisdom and tenderness and compassion. It was just, you know, I would just go, 'Wow!'"
Her memories of those people might explain why viewers who tuned in for more than a quarter century, will always remember Susan Aude.
Reported by Jack Kuenzie