Top communications professionals inspire students at SUNY Oswego Media Summit

For most college students, 8 a.m. comes too early, prompting a slap of the alarm clock snooze button. But for the 130 SUNY Oswego students in business attire who showed up to meet with ESPN “SportsCenter” anchor and Oswego alumnus Steve Levy, class of 1987, on Nov. 6, the day couldn’t get here soon enough.

Steve Levy of ESPN with Lou BorrelliLevy and Lou Borrelli ‘77, chief marketing officer of NimbleTV, opened “Get in the Game: The 9th Annual Dr. Lewis B. O’Donnell Media Summit” with a “Wake Up with Steve and Lou” breakfast on the Oswego campus.

Borrelli got the conversation going with some questions for Levy about his experience at Oswego and his current role at ESPN.

“The beauty of Oswego is that you don’t have to wait until you’re a senior to do things like at some other communications schools,” Levy said. “I had four great years of hands-on experience here.”

Levy, a communication major with a concentration in broadcasting, began his television career at the student-run WTOP-TV in 1983 while an undergraduate at SUNY Oswego. He worked at the station during his four years and was sports director for two years (1986-87). Levy also called play-by-play for the Oswego State men’s ice hockey team on the former WOCR-Radio.

He told students to “never say no” to any opportunity, because they couldn’t know what that assignment might bring or who they might meet. Levy talked about how he developed his own on-air style and personality, the responsibilities of some of the behind-the-scenes roles that TV viewers don’t get to see and how he incorporates and learns from feedback that fans and critics deliver continually through Twitter and other social media outlets.

“It’s not about ego,” he said. “It’s about getting it right.”

Panelists shine

The breakfast kicked off the daylong event, which included visits to classes by Borrelli, Levy and three other alumni: Donna Goldsmith ‘82, marketing and communications consultant and former executive of the WWE and the NBA; Jay Beberman ‘89, Bloomberg News managing editor for sports; and John Kucko ‘87, sports anchor for WROC-TV in Rochester.

The highlight was the afternoon’s Media Summit in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre, featuring a panel of the four accomplished alumni, moderated by event founder and sponsor Borrelli.

SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley welcomed the panelists, the packed auditorium, the 100-plus who watched from an overflow room and hundreds more on streaming video.

“This ninth year of the summit is a particularly notable year, because all of these expert panelists that you see on our stage are alumni of our communication studies program at SUNY Oswego,” Stanley said. “This year’s summit helps our students, especially the up-and-coming professionals in the School of Communication, Media and the Arts, get an insider’s look at where the sports media industry is headed and begin their thinking about where they might best apply their skills.” 

Panelists covered a range of hot topics in the sports industry today, including steroid use, racial diversity in broadcasting, the role of advertising and profits in sports, high school athletics, compensation for Division I athletes, taking American sports to an international market and a host of others. A dozen students asked panelists for advice and for feedback on trends they see in the sports industry today.

Goldsmith discussed her role in helping bring the WWE and the NBA to the international market and how those organizations had to make adjustments to work within their unique cultures.

Beberman talked about the business slant his reporters at Bloomberg put on their sports coverage, as well as putting the news of a story before the impact of that news on shareholders.

Kucko described his 25-year career at a local Rochester TV station and how he shares content with other local and national markets. He explained how regional broadcasters can provide in-depth coverage that national outlets can’t and how they “own big things that are local.”

Levy talked about the diversity of sports broadcasting in the 24-hour news world and the role of on-air personalities.

Five alumni who are early in their professional development also visited classes and participated in round-table discussions with students as Career Connectors. They shared advice on how to make the transition from college student to media professional, and on what students could do to build their resumes and make the job-seeking process more successful.

This year’s Career Connectors were Ben Amey ‘10, a reporter for WETM-TV in Elmira; Lewis Karpel ‘12, a photojournalist for WSTM-NBC3/WSTQ-CW6/WTVH-CBS5/ in Syracuse; Stephanie Robusto ‘11, field reporter at WMBF News in Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Samantha Shelton ‘11, an assistant web editor for FITNESS Magazine in New York City; and Maria Urda ‘12, promotional log editor for Fox Sports I in Charlotte, N.C.

Borrelli closed the summit with an inspiring sendoff to the students in attendance.

“The experience you get here is real,” Borrelli said. “It matters. It means something … Oswego media students: Professionals with a GPA.”

About the Media Summit

SUNY Oswego’s annual Media Summit is named in memory of Dr. Lewis B. O’Donnell, professor emeritus of communication studies. “Doc” O’Donnell died in 2007, but his influence lives on in the careers of hundreds of broadcasters—careers he helped launch. Borrelli founded the summit through a leadership gift in 2005. In 2007, a significant gift to Oswego made by Al Roker ‘76 of NBC’s “Today” show—including a matching gift from NBC—provided the funding to rename the summit in honor of Dr. O’Donnell’s legacy.

The 2013 summit was organized by Dr. David L. Moody, faculty adviser; Janelle Francisco ‘14 and Marissa Sarbak ‘15, student event directors; Laura Pavlus and Betsy Oberst, Office of Alumni and Parent Relations; and a team of more than 30 SUNY Oswego students.

PHOTO CAPTION: Paying it forward—ESPN “SportsCenter” anchor Steve Levy, right, a 1987 SUNY Oswego alumnus, offers career advice to 130 students in the college’s Campus Center auditorium as Lou Borrelli ‘77, chief marketing officer for NimbleTV and founder and sponsor of the college’s Lewis B. O’Donnell Media Summit, looks on. Borrelli later moderated the ninth annual summit’s panel, which included Levy and Donna Goldsmith ‘82, marketing and communications consultant and former executive of the WWE and the NBA; Jay Beberman ‘89, Bloomberg News managing editor for sports; and John Kucko ‘87, sports anchor for WROC-TV in Rochester.

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(Posted: Nov 07, 2013)

Tags: suny oswego, steve levy, stephanie robusto, samantha shelton, media summit, maria urda, louis borrelli, lou borrelli, lewis karpel, lewis b. o'donnell