Temple University alumni are taking the local news world by storm. Waterman Broadcasting has more than its fair share of alumni at two of its television companies in Fort Myers, Florida: WZVN-TV, an American Broadcasting Company affiliate and WBBH-TV, a National Broadcasting Company affiliate. Currently, there are five alumni of Klein College of Media and Communication between the stations, with one more on the way. The influx of Temple alumni has led them to dub the Waterman stations "Temple South."
Peter Jaroff, executive producer and faculty advisor for Temple Update, Update Now and Update Ahora on Temple Television (TUTV) and an assistant professor of practice in the media studies and production department, worked with many of the alumni through Temple Update. He recognized that their varied interests in production, on-air reporting and directing would get them far. Their go-getter attitudes combined with the instruction they internalized at Temple is what Jaroff believes made them stand out during their time at Temple and during their job search.
"It's not by accident that six of our students ended up working for the same company in Fort Myers," Jaroff says. "[The company hires] somebody from Temple and they find out the kind of qualities and work ethic that that person has and then when another opening comes up they think 'Well why don't I just go back to Temple because I already know — it's a given — the quality of applicant I'm going to get.'"
Andrew McDevitt, KLN '15, is currently a weekend sports anchor for WZVN-TV, where fellow Temple alumna Simone Cuccorullo, KLN '15, also serves as an anchor. At Temple, McDevitt studied media studies and production and was a host for TUTV's We Make the Call and an anchor for OwlSports Update. Not only did his classes at Klein College help him develop the practical background he needed as a media professional, but the on-set broadcasting experience he gained through TUTV gave him a definite advantage in applying for professional positions after graduation. Unlike many of his peers, he did not have an internship at a Philadelphia television station; instead, he worked in radio. However, he landed his first television job in Columbus, Georgia because of his impressive TUTV content.
"I was more than prepared and I would say that seeing other people come straight out of college and into a professional work environment, they are nowhere near as prepared," McDevitt says.
Alyssa Mancuso, KLN '19, agrees that the concrete skills that TUTV provides gives alumni the advantage of expertise. The former media studies and production major served as a producer on OwlSports Update and now produces news at WBBH-TV. But with new success comes new challenges and as a woman in broadcasting, she often has to demand the respect she deserves, especially because her credentials from Temple alone usually supercede those of her male counterparts.
"Be prepared to get a little bit nervous to have to make those kinds of decisions but stand by what you believe in and what you want to do," Mancuso says. "And make sure that you're respectful but also definitive and authoritative."
One of the opportunities that Mancuso and other Temple alumni experienced through TUTV is live broadcasting. Keith Aversa graduated with a media studies and production degree in fall 2019 and says that the live broadcasting available through TUTV — a rarity for most college and university students — is a primary reason he chose to attend the school. Working as a producer and director on Temple Update and a variety of other TUTV shows gave him the background he needed to step into an even more demanding role. During his internship at Philadelphia's NBC10 this year, Kate Reilly, KLN '17, of WBBH-TV visited the station and told him to send her his resume and production reel. After a review of his material and a phone interview, he was hired as a producer at the station. In merely a month, he will join Reilly and fellow alumnus Spencer Trabbold, KLN '18 at WBBH-TV. He is excited and more than qualified for the journey ahead.
"I credit Temple to a lot of where I'm going," Aversa says.
Jaroff is proud of the clear commitment to journalism that these alumni exemplify. He cites other locations like WVEC in Norfolk, Virginia and WSAV in Savannah, Georgia as television stations where "clusters" of Temple alumni also work. Clearly, Temple Owls have made their mark in markets throughout the country.
"The best thing, the most rewarding thing is to see what happens after [students] graduate and to see that they're doing the kind of things they want to do, that they're achieving some success, that they're excited about that," Jaroff says. "And to me, that's the most gratifying thing about this job."
McDevitt, who stresses the importance of practicing multimedia journalism to become a well-rounded broadcaster and a one-person show if necessary, recognizes that although Temple students are learning multimedia skills, breaking into the industry requires a team effort.
"There's going to be a Temple alum in every newsroom you're trying to apply to all across the country," McDevitt says. "So that's the key: reach out to those people."