Premiered on January 17, 2024.

Producer and narrator Dennis Woltering profiles six Louisiana inventors and innovators: (pictured top from left to right): Madam C.J. Walker, Alden “Doc” Laborde and J.M. Lapeyre, (pictured bottom from left to right): David Oreck, Jerome Goldman and Ruth Fertel. Hear their stories of success and why they would one day be described as Louisiana visionaries.

It begins with a spark, a lightbulb moment or an idea that inspires an invention or an innovation. From the minds of six Louisiana visionaries profiled in the new WYES documentary LOUISIANA INVENTORS & INNOVATORS came businesses and ideas which in many cases revolutionized industry and provided livelihoods for hundreds and thousands of people.

The new hour-long documentary, produced, written, edited and narrated by Dennis Woltering, features stories of success by people who almost certainly had no idea they would one day be called visionaries. LOUISIANA INVENTORS & INNOVATORS premieres on Wednesday, January 17 at 9:00 p.m. on WYES-TV, and will stream on wyes.org/live and on the WYES and PBS apps. For additional airdates visit wyes.org.

The six inventors and innovators featured in the program became titans of the oil, shipping, manufacturing, restaurant and beauty businesses. One innovator and marketing master, David Oreck, had his name emblazoned on more than 10 million vacuum cleaners sold worldwide. Another innovator, Louisiana native Ruth Fertel, forged a global fine dining empire with a sizzling idea for what became the Ruth’s Chris Steak House chain.

Also profiled in LOUISIANA INVENTORS AND INNOVATORS are J.M. Lapeyre, the inventor of machines that revolutionized the shrimp industry and other fields; Alden “Doc” Laborde, who built a revolutionary rig that led to modern, international offshore drilling; Jerome Goldman, who transformed international shipping and offshore oil drilling and left his designs on the New Orleans skyline; and Louisiana native Madam C.J. Walker, who overcame poverty and Jim Crow era discrimination to become America’s first self-made female millionaire.

“These are success stories that celebrate the power of creativity and the human spirit,” said Woltering. “Through their hard work, intelligence and persistence, these inventors and innovators turned their ideas and dreams into reality. There is something we can all learn from in that.”

Thank you to our program sponsors: