WOUB Alum Tackles LeBron James Controversy In New Documentary

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That’s what the country saw from Cleveland fans after Lebron James announced he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to play for the Miami Heat in June 2010.

Why would one player’s departure leave the entire city in such a tailspin?

Ohio University and WOUB alumna Kirsten Browning investigates why fans felt such hopelessness with the new documentary Losing Lebron, which will premiere at the Athens Film Festival Thursday, April 18 at 3:15 p.m.

Browning, a life-long Cavalier fan, said she had been an admirer of James throughout his high school career and knew the build-up to his free agency status was unprecedented and felt it deserved to be documented.

Browning says the story ended like a Greek tragedy.

“As a native Clevelander and a devoted sports fan of every team housed there, I felt that my city's reaction needed to be explained to the rest of the country,” said Browning. “After all, Cleveland had become little more than a laughingstock, and my beloved hometown appeared to have been rendered little more than the national sports media's whipping boy.”

She says her passion about her hometown inspired her to start the documentary.

“Growing up in Cleveland, I easily understood why fans reacted the way they did—but it was only because of my insider knowledge and my own familiarity with its sports history and long-standing culture,” said Browning.

Browning tackled the project beginning to collect interviews and footage and was later joined on the project by two filmmakers from Boston, Allyson Sherlock and Nicole Prowell Hart.

Sherlock and Hart helped finish the film after Browning accepted a position as the director of international marketing for a medical device company in China. She splits her time between China and the U.S. writing for MuckRack and her own website, iJournalista.

Browning started her documentary career in 2008 at WOUB, producing Good Neighbors, Bad Blood, which was a feature-length investigative piece that focused on the developing relationship between the DuPont company and the surrounding Mid-Ohio Valley and how it was affected by the C8 chemical the DuPont plant released into the environment.

The documentary won Best Enterprise Reporting by the Ohio Associated Press Broadcaster awards in 2009. Browning says her WOUB experience prepared her well for her future career.

“The WOUB newsroom fiercely promoted an enterprising spirit and self-sufficiency in its young reporters, and its top-rate managing staff would accept nothing less from us than a professional-level product when it came to what we put on-air,” said Browning. “I learned hard lessons in accuracy and objectivity in that newsroom, but these lessons were permanently branded on my heart and made me a better, more determined reporter.”

Losing LeBron will air Thursday, April 18 at 3:30 p.m. at the Athens Cinema on Court Street in Athens. The screenings are free and open to the public.