Rochester ABC news anchor leaving for NBC anchor role in Duluth

"Duluth was my first choice more than a decade ago when I started my career as a reporter, but God took me to southern Minnesota. Now, God is taking me back there," Laura Lee said

ABC 6 News' Laura Lee
ABC 6 News Anchor Laura Lee is pictured in their studio Thursday, April 13, 2023, in Rochester.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

ROCHESTER — ABC 6 News anchor Laura Lee’s path to TV news was different from that of most young reporters. She didn’t bounce out of college into an anchor job right away. She was already enmeshed in life’s responsibilities.

Lee, 38, was the mother of three young children when, in perhaps the biggest gamble of her life, she made the move to Austin, Minnesota, from Minneapolis to launch her on-air news career.

Now 13 years later, she is making another career move. Lee is heading to Duluth to become the main anchor of the NBC station in Duluth, Northern News Now.

With her oldest child graduating from Rochester's John Marshall High School this spring, Lee felt the time was right.

"The decision may be a surprise to some, to be honest," Lee said on Facebook. "It was a surprise to me, too. Duluth was my first choice more than a decade ago when I started my career as a reporter, but God took me to southern Minnesota. Now, God is taking me back there."


You started as an evening reporter in Austin in 2010 before moving to evening anchor in Rochester nine months later. Being the mother of three children all under the age of 5 (she is now the mother of four), what was that like?

I arrived in Austin, Minnesota, in the middle of nowhere, because I had no family down here. But it was a foot in the door. And so I took a chance. At that point, I told my then husband, "If I don’t do this now, I think I’m going to regret it.” I took a pay cut to come down here. At the time, I was working for the school district in Minneapolis and I worked part time at KSTP. And then I took the job in Austin and was making $9 an hour. It’s insane.

How long did you expect to stay?

I told myself, you know, let me do one contract cycle or year to get my foot in the door, get a few years under my belt, and then move on to the next market. Never did I imagine that I would stay 13 years. But it has been a huge honor. And this community has been great to us.

Why are you leaving now?

There have been moments in the past 13 years here that I wanted to try something different and challenge myself.

So much life happened. I went through a divorce. I just made the decision to stay for my kids, to keep them with their friends, their school district. As a single mom, raising four kids, I was going to make sure that they were my priority. And so I put opportunities that I had on hold, because I was given opportunities to go to Birmingham (Alabama) down south, to Milwaukee and even to Minneapolis as a reporter several years ago.

What do you think about now that you’re on the verge of departing?


I’m going to cry just thinking about that question. It was so emotional when I announced it two weeks ago. You just never know the impact when you do stories. I know what they mean to me, but you never know what you mean to them. When I announced my departure, I was inundated with messages online and via text. I took days to go through all the messages.

What stories will you remember over the past 13 years?

Oh my god, so many. My first story where I really felt like, “God, we really have a profound job” and have this huge ability to share some really personal moments was when I met a family, a young couple in Owatonna, and their baby was dying. Alex, he was not even a year old. He was maybe 8 months old, and he was dying from a rare disease. They decided to just take him off life support, come home and love him until his last days. And they allowed me into their home, and I shared their story.

And the huge series I did on all the cancer kids in Kasson. For me, it was a huge in-depth series. These were families that were going through some really tough moments. And they all couldn’t understand why 12 kids were diagnosed with cancer within a two-year span. We lost one of those kids, but seeing those kids in remission now, grown up. They’re all young adults now. It’s incredible. That’s a story I’ll always remember.

Matthew Stolle has been a Post Bulletin reporter since 2000 and covered many of the beats that make up a newsroom. In his first several years, he covered K-12 education and higher education in Rochester before shifting to politics. He has also been a features writer. Today, Matt jumps from beat to beat, depending on what his editor and the Rochester area are producing in terms of news. Readers can reach Matthew at 507-281-7415 or
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