The Team

Nikki-May Bagley Retherford hails from a 19th century Vermillion Parish sugarcane plantation family, and was raised somewhere between the barbed wire and beaches of northwest Florida (more commonly referred to as LA or lower Alabama). Nikki-May has always found herself smitten with the undeniable romance and spirit of the South. From exploring the Carolina shores with her furry four-legged Beau, to trekking through Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail, this Southern Weekend Digital Solutions Manager and Southern Charm blogger is on a mission to share her passion for southern hospitality, sweet tea and sassy souls. Her idea of the perfect southern weekend includes entertaining guests at her lakeside home in the Heart of Dixie or hiking, kayaking or camping beneath the star soaked southern sky.

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Rachel Leigh has one of the best jobs in the world. She travels around the South, meeting fascinating people, eating amazing food and visiting incredible places for The Southern Weekend. She has also worked as an entertainment reporter and digital content director for WFLX in West Palm Beach, Florida. Over the years, Rachel has interviewed The Doobie Brothers, The Band Perry, Flo Rida, Ed Sheeran, and many more well-known actors, singers, and performers.

Rachel is also a gym rat and teaches 10 group fitness classes per week. Therefore, Rachel has two looks: done up for TV and sweaty mess. When she does have some downtime, her favorite thing to do is hang out at the beach or the pool with her husband, Jeff, and their three dogs, Toby, Willie, and Dierks. (Notice a trend here?) Her cat, Bella, is not a fan of the water.

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Despite spending her teen years in upstate NY, Molly McKinney’s Kentucky-bred parents still made sure she was raised in a Southern household. From her frequent usage of “bless their hearts!” to her perfection of the family’s Southern mashed potatoes recipe, she’s fit right in since moving back to the South and serving as one of our hosts of the Southern Weekend.

Molly began her on-camera career at nine years old, when she was cast as a host of the TV show, “Aqua Kids”. She hosted the Emmy-award winning series for fourteen years (successfully capturing all of her gawky years on-camera).

Today, McKinney resides in Charlotte, NC where she spends her Southern weekends rock climbing, sipping micro brews, sampling hipster food trucks, and taking her dog on long hikes in the Pisgah Mountains. When she’s not filming the Southern Weekend, you can catch her hosting the Emmy-award winning T.V. show: NASA360, and behind-the-camera producing for nonprofits and corporate clients around the world.

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Mike Mocklar firmly believes BBQ, homemade apple pie and a nice cold beverage make any day perfect. He heads up programming and editorial operations for The Southern Weekend and Raycom Media’s Digital Innovation Group. He’s based out of Atlanta, GA. Before helping to create The Southern Weekend, Mike was an Executive Producer at HLN and CNN, where he created and acquired new programming, and produced documentaries. He also worked for CNN/Sports Illustrated, where his weekends were spent covering the SEC, ACC and NASCAR. Mike’s idea of a perfect Southern weekend is spending time with his wife and kids, especially if it includes that BBQ, apple pie and a cold beverage.
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Pete Nickell may be a Yankee by birth, but at 5 years old his family packed up and moved south to his adopted hometown of Atlanta, Ga. From the capitol of the South, he operates as a Production Manager and Producer for The Southern Weekend. After high school, Pete headed up the road to Charlotte, NC where he got his career started in an industry with a long history of exciting southern weekends; NASCAR. Starting as a grunt video production assistant, Pete worked his way into producer and project manager roles over his 8 years with the sport. Now with the Southern Weekend, Pete helps keep the wheels moving at almost every level of the production process…and joins the fun with the production crew when the opportunities arise. An ideal southern weekend for Pete includes his wife, their dog, ice cold beverages and a big lake to jump into.

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Pascal Racheneur has the thickest Southern accent of anyone at The Southern Weekend. (It’s actually a Southern Belgian accent, but we pretend he’s Cajun). A Southerner by choice, Pascal heads up business development and product for The Southern Weekend and Raycom’s Digital Innovation Group. Prior to joining Raycom,Pascal spent twenty years in the technology, mobile, and media industries including tenures at GTE Wireless, The Weather Channel, and AccuWeather. He was intrigued by the power of mobile technology in the mid-nineties and embraced it throughout his career as a way to nurture brands and connect folks from different cultures. Pascal would never trade Southern weather for Belgian rain and is always looking forward to Sunday evening grilling with his wife and two sons.
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Philip Weiss is Charleston born and bred. After graduating from the University of South Carolina with a degree in broadcast journalism, Philip returned home to the Lowcountry where he spent his weeks working in a newsroom, and his weekends enjoying all the Holy City has to offer. Now with The Southern Weekend, he will be cruising through Georgia and the Carolinas in search of the top food and travel destinations to help you plan your next Southern road trip. When not behind the camera, you can catch him spending his Southern weekends grilling out with friends and family, cheering on his favorite sports teams, or out beating the Charleston heat on any body of water he can find.
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Big Boi once said, “If you want me, you can find me in the A”.  Not only does this lyric transcend hip-hop, it also refers to Atlanta-native and The Southern Weekend Editor and Producer, Mark Willard. After graduating from The University of Georgia, hallowed be thy name, Mark got his start in the TV & Film industry as a Production Assistant on the hit series, T.I. And Tiny – The Family Hustle. After kicking it with Tip, Mark traded in his PA duties for the marketing and advertising agency world where he produced and created video content for brands such as Marriott, Coca-Cola, and Keurig. He has also worked at Turner Broadcasting creating video content for the NBA, MLB, and NCAA.  When he’s not editing, operating a camera, or laying down a smooth voiceover, Mark can be found grilling outside and enjoying a cold one with his smokin’ hot wife and searching for the best ‘que the south has to offer.

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Felicia Willett started her culinary career at the age of 12, selling cheesecakes in her hometown of Jonesboro, Arkansas. Selling cheesecakes was only the start of a career that includes being the chef of her own restaurant, which as of 2015 is in its thirteenth year. After completing culinary training at Johnson and Wales University in Charleston, S.C., Felicia wanted to learn from the leader in her field: Emeril Lagasse. Felicia would earn a position as Lagasse’s assistant, co-author of his cookbooks and producer of his “Good Morning America” segments.

While building her experience with Lagasse, Felicia resolved to open her own restaurant. Felicia Suzanne’s Restaurant was opened in the beautiful Lowenstein Building in downtown Memphis in 2002. Felicia considers the Southern dishes she creates to be puritan representations of the region’s culture and signature foods.

Since the opening, she has taken being a local chef to a new level. She is an expert in cooking with the locally-sourced food of the South. Though many assert a devotion to locally-sourced food, Felicia makes it a top priority to shop at producers within 90 miles of Memphis, and she meets new farmers on her weekly farmer’s market trips.

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The Southern Weekend is a proud member of the Raycom Media family. Headquartered in Montgomery AL, Raycom is an employee owned company, and owns and operates 63 local television stations in 42 markets, with locations in every state in the South. Raycom also owns PureCars (a digital automotive ad platform) Raycom Sports (a marketing, production and events management and distribution company), RTM Productions (a Franklin, TN-based automotive programming production and marketing solutions company), Tupelo-Honey Productions (a NY-based production company), and Broadview Media (a post-production/digital signage company based in Montgomery, AL). Raycom is also responsible for the design and hosting of Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail website.