Purchase Journalism senior, Kyle McKenzie, hasn’t even graduated yet and he’s already covered a national political convention. Kyle was down in Charlotte, North Carolina for the Democratic National Convention with NBC as a runner.
If you’ve ever met Kyle, you only have to be in his company for a moment and hear his deep booming voice to know that he’s destined for TV. (He entered Purchase as a student in the prestigious Design/Technology program for Stage Management in the Conservatory of Theater Arts, but, as he says, his heart was in journalism, and made the rare move of switching programs.)
He very kindly took a moment to answer a few journoprof questions in an email exchange:
1) Tell me about your gig at NBC: How you got it, how long you’ve been there, what you do?
I started with NBC last January as an intern on the msnbc show ‘NewsNation w Tamron Hall’. There I learned about every facet of the television news industry from anchor-producing to editorial meetings. From there I heard about an opportunity to serve as a runner for the upcoming political conventions. I talked to the people in charge of coordinating the runners, applied and was selected to work the Democratic National Convention.
2) Describe how you found out that you were going to the DNC.
I was eating out with friends in July of this past summer and decided to check my email real quick on my iPhone. I had an email in my inbox so I checked it thinking it was going to be some piece of spam mail, when it was from NBC informing me I was chosen to work the upcoming convention. As you can imagine, I didn’t end up eating much of my lunch as I was just too excited. I kept checking my email to make sure that I read the email correctly…which I did
3) What did you do there and what was it like? Any memorable moments? Meet any stars, political or otherwise?
I was down in Charlotte for a little under 2.5 weeks. The first half of my time there I assisted the production manager in helping coordinate transportation and other arrangements for the NBC staff that was going to be at the Convention. I also spent time learning the arena, posting signage and becoming familiar with the area, that way as the bulk of the NBC staff came in, we could show them points of interest, how to easily navigate the city, etc. The second half of my time there I served as a runner on the msnbc show ‘Morning Joe’. There I helped coordinate and direct guests from the moment they arrived at the Black Finn Saloon (where ‘Morning Joe’ was broadcasting from) until after they were finished on the show. To say I had an incredible time would be an understatement! It was an amazing feeling to observe the best in the business produce this 3.5 hour show flawlessly. To be surrounded by such talented hardworking people and to experience that energy will be something I will never forget. The people I was able to meet, from David Axlerod, Valarie Jarrett, Kristen Gillibrand, Chuck Schumer, Julian Castro, etc., to the wonderful members of the crew, it was like taking a once in a lifetime Master’s class in television.
4) OK, this is a big one for the folks back home: Have you found your years in the Purchase journalism program prepared you well? If so, how:
My years in the Purchase Journalism program most certainly contributed to my preparation for the Convention. Understanding the purpose of why journalists were there, what they are trying to accomplish and the key role journalists play in these conventions can be directly tied to what I have learned in the Purchase Journalism program thus far. In terms of television/broadcasting, I would like to see the Purchase Journalism program spend more time preparing students for the world of television, managing & production as those were skills I needed and utilized the most at the Convention in my specific role. My internship with NBC News/msnbc last January as well as my time in the Conservatory of Theater Arts’ Design/Technology program as well as experiences I’ve had on my own in theater, concerts, etc. (technical supervisor, stage managing, etc.) prepared me very well for what I did at the convention.
5) What’s your plan down the road?
In my immediate future, I plan on working hard to finish up my degree here at Purchase and hope to complete two more broadcast journalism internships. After that, I hope to enter the elite NBC Page program.
6) Anything else you’d like to say?
I come from a very small town in upstate New York (Lake George, NY) where people don’t do these big kinds of things. I get asked all the time ‘how did I get this’, etc. The answer is, I made goals, thought about where I want my life to be, and what I was going to have to do to get it there and did it. I worked hard, was tenacious and was my own best advocate. I encourage others out there my age to do the same!