Friday, October 30, 2009

Interview with Brittany Emma Beam

Between running around the greatest cities in the world in high heels and doing photo shoots for designers such as Georgio Armani, fashion model Brittany Emma Beam lives a unique lifestyle. She started out as an aspiring model from northern Virginia who moved to the big city after high school, signed with Elite, and has now been on the cover of GQ and in Victoria's Secret. Her biggest piece of advice is to "keep true to yourself, and push through all those days where you are so tired, you can do anything you put your mind to." Read the rest of my interview below to get an inside scoop of the modeling industry!

Perrin: How did you get started in the modeling industry? Is this something that you have always wanted to do?

Brittany (Emma): Yes, and no. I mean I had the idea in my head and I knew I was tall enough but my confidence didn't grow until I was actually scouted and signed!

Perrin: What was your hometown/high school like?

Brittany (Emma): I grew up in Loudoun County. It is beautiful, part city and part country, and I went to Loudoun Valley High. It was a very large school, but I kept myself busy with athletics such as basketball, volleyball, and softball.


Perrin: Describe an average day for you when you have a photo shoot.

Brittany (Emma): I wake around 6 a.m., depending on the call-time. I take a cab or train to the location. I usually have an hour in hair and make-up, then I start shooting. The photographer tells me what he wants and the stylist is always touching your the hair and make-up -- always poking at you (laughs). This could last from 8-6, 9-5, 6-6, 8-8...I had a shoot in Paris from 6 a.m. - 9 p.m. and it was a jumping shoot! In heels! Sometimes fashion teams are crazy.

Perrin: Who has been your inspiration for modeling?

Brittany (Emma): Coco Rocha, Natasha Poly, Daria Werbowy, Alessandra Ambrosio. They are all GREAT hardworking models that have been in the business for a long time and they know and understand what it takes to be the best.

Perrin: Who is you favorite model?

Brittany (Emma): Gemma Ward

Perrin: What is your favorite spread that you have modeled for?

Brittany (Emma): Victoria's Secret and Visionaire

Perrin: What are some opportunities that have happened because of your career?

Brittany (Emma): I meet celebrities all the time, popular actresses and actors, singers. I get to travel the world.

Perrin: Who are some celebrities that you have been able to meet?

Brittany (Emma): Jude Law, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Sienna Miller, Jeremy Piven, Dr Dre, Roberto Cavalli, Georgio Armani, Karl Lagerfield, Gerard Butler, MCLOVIN! (Jonah Hill), and many more!

Perrin: Where is your favorite destination to model?

Brittany (Emma): Australia, New York or Paris. I can't decide.

Perrin: Is it hard to manage a normal life and a modeling career?

Brittany (Emma): By far, this career is very critical, and you live a lifestyle based around the fact you may leave for a different country tomorrow or you may have a castings call in five minutes half way across manhattan. You have to be ready! And always look your best, which can be difficult at times.

Perrin: What is a common misconception that you think people have about working in the modeling industry?

Brittany (Emma): Simplicity. You must be this and that and do this and this now. You have to act like this, wear this, fix that, eat this, don't eat that. Drink this but no alcohol because puffy mornings call for lost jobs. If you cant fit into sample sizes...ciao! You are moving all day long at shoots, running around new cities by yourself with a map, book and high heels.

Perrin: What are some tough obstacles that you have to face in the modeling industry?

Brittany (Emma): Well, my first time I travelled to Europe it was for fashion week. I just flew into the Bahamas for a job, then the day I got back I flew into Paris for the hectic schedule of fashion week. I had to learn to run around Paris to specific addresses, in French mind you (laughs). My bookers were French. I went to the agency straight from the plane and walked out into castings. I had around 15-20 places I had to be in one day and prioritize through different times that I had to be at these castings before they ended. I'm exhausted thinking about it. This happened in London, Milan and New York. But hey, I got to walk for Georgio Armani! So in the end I can say everything was worth it. He was nice by the way.

Perrin: At what moment did you realize that you were a major name in the modeling industry?

Brittany (Emma): (Laughs) I wouldn't consider myself a huge name in modeling. But the key word here is YET!

Perrin: Do you want to model for as long as you can or are you using this as a gateway to another career (acting, singing, etc.)?

Brittany (Emma): I did plan on having a career in college softball. But I got ill and tore my ACL. So I walked down the streets of New York finding myself signed with a top agency! Basically life will change for me down the road, I just don't know where yet.

Perrin: What advice would you give an aspiring model?

Brittany (Emma): Mentally prepare yourself because it's all about your frame of mind. People are constantly judging you, pushing you to be a person you aren't on the outside. But if you keep true to yourself, and push through all those days where you are so tired, you can do anything you put your mind to. Although there are requirements, and exercise is one of them (laughs).

Perrin: Who do you consider the standouts in the modeling industry?

Brittany (Emma): Coco rocha, Freja Beha, Adriana Lima, Anja Rubik, Natasha Poly, Natalia V. There are so many amazing girls that are smart and very business oriented.

Perrin: If you could be on the cover of one magazine, what would it be?

Brittany (Emma): Italian, Us Vogue and V mag.

Perrin: What is your favorite part of your job?

Brittany (Emma): Meeting new and interesting people and seeing the pictures after waiting months for publishment.

Perrin: How do you decide what to wear for each show? Who does your makeup? How long does the preparation usually take for a shoot?

Brittany (Emma): (laughs) No way do I decide anything. They decide what make-up I wear. There are many different teams that come together for hair and make-up and nails. For instance, they have MAC groups and different hair company groups that get paid to put a group together for the shows. Preperation can be around two hours at most.


Perrin: Do you prefer the runway or a photo shoot and why?

Brittany (Emma): I cant choose!

Perrin: What is the toughest part about both?

Brittany (Emma): Running around to casting calls for fashion week, and keeping in top shape. Photoshoots are long and work is all day. You stay standing posing for that perfect picture- modeling is just acting in still life. They give you a story and you try and show a different vibe for each spread.


Perrin: Are you able to spend a decent amount of time with your family?

Brittany (Emma): During the holidays!


Perrin: Where do you like to vacation?

Brittany (Emma): I dont really vacation, but my favorite work place that I stayed was the Bahamas, Coastal Mexico. When I get home from the job, if the sun is still out, relaxation time!

Perrin: What do you like to do in your free time?

Brittany (Emma): DJ Hero! It is the best game in the world (laughs). But I also LOVE to do crosswords and watch entourage (best show ever). Oh and I exercise when I need to -- like every day for an hour or more.


See more of Brittany Emma Beam at: http://nymag.com/fashion/models/ebeam/emmabeam/

Monday, October 26, 2009

Interview with Lindsey Ward

Both working and going to school helped prepare Lindsey Ward for the tough media industry. Now Ward is a reputable reporter and anchor for WSLS 10 thanks to her hard work and determination.

Wards biggest piece of advice for aspiring anchors is to become a one-man band because it is “ the future of this industry.”

Below is a selection of question and answers from my recent interview with Lindsey Ward.

Ashley: What inspired you to want to go into the media industry?

Ward: Around my junior year, it all of a sudden hit me that I wanted to be a TV reporter, and until that point I didn’t give any thought to it. I went to journalism school after senior year to pursue that route and wanted to find a school that had a great journalism and communication program. One of the big things that drew me to this industry was that you are “in the know” within the community, etc.

Ashley: What activities do you like to do outside of working at WSLS?

Ward: I love shopping. Whenever I leave work I go home and sit on the couch and watch mindless TV. All day long you just work, work, work and it’s such a stressful job. You are always on your toes, so when I go home I watch a ton of reality TV.

Ashley: How did college prepare you for the media industry?

Ward: I was a little different. I worked a full time job while I was in college so I used both of those (college and a job) to bounce off each other which really helped me. Something I was doing at school I would be doing at work so it really helped me to have both of those. For me, it just worked out because it was a better situation that just going to school.

Ashley: What job you have during school?

Ward: Started at channel 12 in Richmond as a teleprompter. By the time I left, I moved up to working assignment desk on weekends. It gave me much more a hand in assignments and stories and being apart of a newsroom. I started editing for shows and that helped me because I had to read every single script so that helped me learn how to write. Then I asked if I could help write scripts and they said yes.

Ashley: What did college not prepare you for in industry?

Ward: The biggest thing it didn’t prepare me for was delivery and appearance. I didn’t have a class where they went over your voice, what you wear, how to look, and your hair/makeup. That was one thing that I gathered from my job. I see so many times where students coming out of college who don’t look professional. Just stuff like the appropriateness for the job. And that’s the news director’s first impression so it’s something to be aware of.

Ashley: What was your first job right out of college?

Ward: My first reporting job in Charlottesville at WCAV, which worked for four stations in one. I was a one-man band and it was tough, really really tough, because you don’t always get the training you need, and you get thrown into the pond. I remember sitting there on Saturday morning and I only had one weekend of training and I had no direction of how to get around Charlottesville. I had a package due at six and I had no idea where I was going. It's sink or swim and so many people get out of the business in their first job because they can’t do it. If you can make it to your second job, I consider it an accomplishment.

Ashley: While you worked in Charlottesville you had many roles such as producer, anchor, photographer, and reporter. What was it like doing so many things for one company and which role did you enjoy the most?

Anchor. I really like reporting but there you do reporting and photography and I was the worst at photography. I would come back with blue, green and orange video (laughs). I could hear my news director in his office saying, “ WHO DID THIS!?”

Ashley: Why you like anchoring the most?

Ward: I think because you connect with the viewers either they love you or they don’t. You really have an opportunity to show them your personality. Whenever you are on the desk you can really connect with your viewers.

Ashley: What was it like being arena host for women’s basketball at UVA? How did you get this job?

Ward: I LOVED that job. It was awesome. In Charlottesville my station was a station for UVA. We had a contract to do certain things like shows on their sports for spring and fall. We basically had certain obligations to them. When they needed a host they asked me and it was great. I REALLY enjoyed it and it was a lot of fun. It was nice because you get to see your viewers outside, and get to meet them and be one-on-one with them. It really shows your personality.

Ashley: What do you believe is a common misconception that people have about working in the media industry?

That you make a lot of money, hands down. They think you make so much money and are wealthy. They look at you like you are ridiculous if you don’t donate to charities, but you don’t have a lot to give.

Ashley: What is the hardest part about the industry in your opinion?

Ward: Just keeping up. It takes a lot out of you… so much out of you. It’s really easy to get burnt out quickly. A lot of people don’t make it past the first job. It takes so much out of you. You realize that you are making very little money and you are working holidays, weekends, giving up a lot of things that may be important to some people. A lot of women don’t make it because if you are anchoring, you are going in at 2:30 p.m and get off at 11:30 p.m. And if you work a morning show, you are going to bed super early. It is just not family friendly.

Ashley: What’s your favorite part about your job?

Ward: I really enjoy anchoring and reporting. Being able to do both. On Friday nights, I have to do sports feature pieces and I really enjoy that because it’s not all serious like sitting in a city council meeting. You're going out and putting together a creative piece. What I enjoy the most is being creative with the job, like writing the video. At our station, we have great photographers who really help you put together some really good stories.

Ashley: Do you have any major goals or future plans?

Ward: Honestly, I have been somebody who has been so goal orientated. Literally there hasn’t been a moment in my life where I haven’t had a goal. Since I have been anchoring here, I haven’t had a goal yet. I have no idea what I want to do beyond this. I just want to get better at anchoring and hopefully our viewers will like it.

Ashley: What advise do you have for aspiring anchors/ reporters?

Ward: One-man band. It makes you better and we made bigger jumps than a lot of the other people at other stations. You are doing so many jobs at one time and if you can still put together a decent tape, they will know you can do multiple tasks. It is the future of this business and it would be silly for graduates who leave college and find a job where they already have photographers because this media is so big into mutli-media journalism.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Interview With Barry Drake

Want to hear what it was like to work with Rock and Roll legends in the 70's? Singer/Songwriter Barry Drake played alongside Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, Emmylou Harris, Loudon Wainwright III, Richie Havens, James Taylor and many more legends of that historic rock time period. He will be presenting his multimedia lecture of the 70's at Virginia Tech on November 3 at 7:30 p.m. in Squires Colonial Hall. His goal is to keep music alive and have students "vicariously live through the decade with me". Below is an interivew that I conducted with him to learn more about his credibility and rock & roll career!


Perrin: Which lecture do you enjoy presenting the most?

Barry: Actually, I love doing them all. They're like my children. I'm always doing all four decades when I'm on tour, so as long as I don't do too many of the same ones in a row, I'm happy. It may sound funny but as I'm doing each show, I'm reliving how I felt during those decades and enjoying the ups and downs all over again. I guess it's like therapy for me.

Perrin: How do you get your presentations to emotionally connect with the audience?
Barry: I try to do them from the perspective of a college age person when I'm doing a show on a campus. This way they can vicariously live through the decade with me. I'm also very emotionally connected to the music which I think they can feel. I try to make my enthusiasm contageous.

Perrin: Do you enjoy presenting at Virginia Tech?
Barry: Yes, of course. I've been coming to Tech for many years and I have a great relationship with the staff and students. I also have met students and community people at my shows at Virginia Tech who keep in touch with me throughout the year and show up on other campuses when I'm in the area. What more could a performer want?

Perrin: What type of multimedia presentation do you put on? Powerpoint?
Barry: It's funny, but all 4 of my shows were originally put together before there was Powerpoint, or home computers for that matter!!! As I upgraded my technology over the years, I kept the video editing capabilities of a computer combined with the visual strength of good old photographic slides. It's combination that works for me.

Perrin: How do you keep up the intensity for each lecture? Does it get repetitive?
Barry: I always manage to amuse myself every night. Maybe I'm a simple person, but I love watching my images and videos on the screen. Also, doing a show like mine is like a trapeze act, you never exactly know what's going to happen. I also perform my shows like a jazz musician. I know the song well but I put different little twist on it every night and in the process learn something new with each show.

Perrin: Who was your favorite artist that you performed with as a performer/songwriter?
Barry: There were so many. Van Morrison for his intensity. James Taylor for his great guitar playing. Emmylou Harris for her harmonies. Loudon Wainwright for his zanyness. Bruce Springsteen for his clear vision and focus. Ritchie Havens for his heart.........I could go on!

Perrin: What is advice that you would give to an aspiring singer/songwriter?
Barry: Good luck! LOL! I always ask them what they want. Believe it or not, every performer wants a little something different. Do they want to be famous? Do they want to get work and make a living? Do they want a Major Record deal? Do they want radio play? Do they want to stay home and write and record in their basement? Do they want to be a musician for their whole lives?
Back in 1972, I gave Bruce Springsteen some advice which fortunately he didnt take.

Perrin: Why did you choose to use multimedia in your presentation?

Barry: I always tried to make my presentations look like a Ken Burns, PBS documentary. It makes the subject much easier to absorb. For example, most students know the song "Born To Be Wild" but how many have actually seen a picture or video of Steppenwolf who created it. With my shows you get to do that.

Perrin: Why did you add rock and roll lectures to your already busy schedule?
Barry: I was always a closet Rock & Roll Historian and when I finally settled into a successful career as a singer / songwriter, it gave me the opportunity to express myself with something else I always loved. For many years I was doing both concerts and lectures, until it just became too overwhelming and I let nature take it's course. But I still play my guitar and sing every day. I love it more than ever.

Perrin: What is your favorite award that you have won?

Barry: I guess the 5 NACA Campus Lecturer Of The Year Awards! I was ecstatic with the first one. The next 4 just pushed me over the top.

Perrin: What made you want to perform on just college campuses?
Barry: Performing on College Campuses has always been a perfect fit for me. I started playing in the Coffeehouses of Greenwich Village in New York and students from colleges in the NY / NJ / PA / CT area used to come into The City and book me to play on their campuses. It felt so good to me, I just kept doing it. I still do Corporate or Community Shows also.


Perrin: If you could describe your lecture in a simple phrase, what would it be?
Barry: A multimedia trip through the 60s. The sights, the sounds and the smells of 10 incredible years all wrapped up in a fun, fast paced hour and 20 minutes.


Read more about Barry Drake's career at: www.barrydrake.com


Monday, October 12, 2009

Interview with Brendan James

Starting out as being “ broke as a joke” in NYC, Brendan James is now an inspiring singer-songwriter. With the help of becoming a self-taught piano master,, his gifted voice and various song inspirations in his life, James is truly an artist to watch out for.

James said,” I want to be a musician and be someone who people can depend on to make good music and perform live.”

James has signed with Decca Records and is hoping to release a second album in March of 2010.

In a recent interview, I talked with Brendan James who discussed his struggles, triumphs and advice in the music industry. What follows is a selection of question and answers from that recent interview.

Ashley: How did you get started in the music industry?

Brendan: I had always been a singer. I always loved singing but it wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I started to get interested in the piano and song writing. It really was because of a mentor who discovered me early on when I was in New Hampshire at home on college break. He was very encouraging. He told me I should be more than a singer, and that I should try to learn an instrument and write my own songs. He was a pretty pivotal person in my early development. So he was my initial inspiration and then it took some years of song writing and honing in on my own stills. I moved to NYC after college and had to do my best to get noticed on my own.

Ashley: How did you get noticed?

Brendan: Well there were several things that led to where I am now, but I guess it started out the old fashioned way. I was living in NYC in a five-bedroom apartment with four girls, which was …interesting. I was broke as a joke living on canned tuna and Kraft macaroni and cheese. I would just go to all open mics in NYC (had nine plotted out). I cycled through them awaiting to be “discovered”.. Open mics can sometimes lead to gigs at those places and it helped me out that way. I started to play live shows but it was not until years later that I got my first record deal and I met my first manager, then it was a matter of meeting a producer.

Ashley: How did you learn to play the piano?

Brendan: Hours of sitting by myself and trying to figure it out. When I was around 20, I was focused on trying to figure that piano out. I always enjoyed it and taught myself.

Ashley: What was your experience like touring on the John Mayercraft. How did that differ from playing in a venue on the road? Would you do it again?

Brendan: The Mayercraft, and I have to laugh and say this with a smile, it was a crazy five days. It was really great. It brought out a different performer in me. It was a lot of outdoor shows and all about playing to the crowd and having a fun time. On a tour like that, people want to escape normal lives and jobs and want to have a drink in hand and listen to great music. The tour brought out the fun performer in myself and others…. I would definitely do it again!

Ashley: Now that you are married, how does going on tour and being a musician impact your family life? Does your wife travel on the road with you?

Brendan: My wife does not travel with me. We met a few years ago, she met a musician (myself) and I was someone she knew was going to travel a lot. I think that’s the only way a relationship like this can work… when you both understand each other’s dreams and aspirations. She is amazing for that. She is very supportive and I also find time to fly out and see her and she flies out to see me when I am on tour or recording albums.

Ashley: You mention your mother in most of your songs, what influence does she have on you and your music?

Brendan: My mother has always been the most solid person that I have had in my life. I feel she has just been the ideal mother and I think in a lot of my early songs when I wanted to describe that source of strength, she was the first person that always came to mind.

Ashley: Many of your songs seem to come from personal experiences growing up. Is that where you get most of your inspiration? What else inspires you today?

Brendan: A lot of traveling that I have recently been doing has inspired me for this second album. I always draw on what I know and who I know. For a lot of my songs I am trying to tell stories that are close to me and then I tell stories that are close to other people. Most lyrics come from really searching for the truth in people’s lives around you.

Ashley: You are under contract with Decca Records, correct? How did that come about and what was it like to sign with a major record label?

Brendan: Yes, though I first signed with Capitol records 4 years ago and didn’t release my album with them. I made my own album when I left Capitol, with a producer, and then it was up to us to get me signed. Decca Records was interested in signing me, so I had to showcase for them by doing some gigs. They also had to like the album I just made and, once that was finished, we decided to work together.

Ashley: Your songs are so personal, is it hard to get on stage and sing them to a large audience?

Brendan: Funny, I have never thought of that. I don’t think so, it’s hand- in- hand for me, when I write a song I know I am going to share it with people throughthe lyrics I write. Sometimes I make lyrical choices that aren’t too personal. I make them just personal enough where I feel comfortable sharing that with the fans. It's kind of a fine balance because you don’t want to alienate the people closest to you but you want to tell others the honest story of your life.

Ashley: Which is more important to your success, getting on the radio or being seen live?

Brendan: Good question… They are two very different things, but, for someone like me, I want to get my songs on the radio to help facilitate getting my message out. I’m ready to get my music out there to as many people as possible. If you can get on the radio, it helps your recognition across the nation and across the world.. I can’t wait to tour as many places as I can and I love playing live.

Ashley: Did you ever consider playing piano in someone else’s band or did you always want to be a lead singer and sing your own songs?

Brendan: I always wanted to play my own songs. I am one of those guys who never really learned cover songs. I always wanted to sing and play my own stuff because, for some reason, they go hand- in- hand for me; the performing aspect of music and the playing part of it.

Ashley: Do you have any long-term goals for your career or do you pretty much play it one day at a time?

Brendan: I have a long-term goal of making a lifelong career in music and story-telling. It took a few years in the industry to realize that it's tough and you will have hard days but it’s what I want to do with my life. I want to be a musician and be someone who people can depend on to make good music and perform live.

Ashley: What is your favorite part of being a singer-songwriter?

Brendan: Having an outlet that allows me to vent what is going on in my life. Sometimes, even live shows can be very cathartic. When you finish a show, you feel better that whole month because something got out of you.

Ashley: What is the hardest part about the industry?

Brendan: The only consistency is inconsistency. And my parents raised me to plan things out and to always kind of have an idea of your life. So if you really want this, you have to know that it's impossible in this career. It is hard to adjust to; if you really want to do this full-time you have to be at mercy of your music. That’s the biggest challenge for me. You have to stay flexible.

Ashley: What other activities do you like to do outside of music?

Brendan: I love sports. I am a very active person. And I like outdoor activities so you can always find me on some basketball court or out hiking somewhere. It's a big deal to me to stay active.

Ashley: What are you working on right now?

Brendan: I am almost finished writing all of album two. In a couple weeks, official recording begins. I hope to release the new album in March 2010.

Ashley: What is your biggest piece of advice for upcoming artists?

Brendan: Be ready for anything and practice as much as you can by yourself. That way, you come to learn exactly who you are as an artist and a performer before other people try to tell you who you are.

Check out Brendan James online at : http://www.myspace.com/brendanjames

Monday, October 5, 2009

Interview with Travis Wells

I recently had the opportunity to interview and talk with WDBJ sports anchor and director, Travis Wells. He opened up to me about the media industry and the opportunities and obstacles that he has to face everyday along with some great stories! Travis gets to do it all… write, anchor, produce a sports show, report at sporting events in the community and much, much more! Read my interview below to find out what it is like to work in the sports/media industry!

Perrin: You originally attended JMU and then transferred to Radford in 1986, why did you transfer?

Travis: The biggest reason was for basketball. I was playing basketball at JMU and I was having a blast and enjoying it, but I just wasn’t playing as much as I would have liked. It was just an opportunity to go somewhere and play a little more.

Perrin: Who inspired you to play basketball when you were a kid?

Travis: My dad was and still is a high school basketball coach. I grew up in the gym and was a gym rat – I always had the keys to the gym. We would go in there, I am one of four boys, and we all played for my dad. He was the assistant coach when I was there but by the time I graduated he was the head coach and coached my three younger brothers.

Perrin: Did you like having your dad as a coach?

Travis: Yes and no. It had its advantages and disadvantages. One thing we always tried to do was if there were something going on, if we were going at it a little, we would always try to leave it at the gym. When we went home, it was dinner and family stuff.

Perrin:What life lessons did you learn from playing a college level sport?

Travis: I think just being apart of a team was the biggest thing. I see this a lot everyday, especially in a work place like this. So many people have never been apart of a team. They don’t know what it’s like for everyone to do their part and pull for each other and care for each other to work towards a common goal. I think that was probably the biggest thing, just being apart of a team and rallying around guys who were working just as hard as you for the same goal.

I wrote something on my blog the other day about college football and just how the fans are so passionate. Like at the Alabama/Tech game in Atlanta a few weeks ago, oh my gosh! And to see the Tech people last week in the pouring rain and they stayed until the end. And the Nebraska game a few weeks ago, all the people that they brought 2,000 miles from Nebraska. Just passion that people have. I’ve always said if you are passionate about something in your life, no matter what it is, just be passionate about it.

Perrin: And how hard was it to manage academics and play ball?

Travis: It wasn’t that tough, I was always pretty conscience about schoolwork and the books. They go out of their way to help you as far as having academic advisors. Some guys needed them and some guys didn’t. We would have study halls on the road and things like that. To me, it wasn’t that difficult.

Perrin: What was your motivation to become a sports anchor? And when did you realize it?

Travis: I always knew I wanted to do something sports related. In high school, I wrote for the school paper doing sports articles and things like that. I played college sports but I wasn’t under any grand allusions about playing professional sports because I knew I didn’t have that kind of talent. So I sort of knew after college was the end of the road and I had to find a real job. This was a way for me to stay close to the game and stay close to sports and that was appealing to me.

Perrin: What was your first media job/internship out of college?

Travis: The summers between my junior and senior years at Radford I did an internship here (WDBJ) for about three months. I started in the middle of June and was done by the end of August when school started. That was good to get my feet wet and see if this was something I wanted to do and was cut out for. The guys that I worked with here were great, none of them are here anymore but they are all still in town and I call them from time to time. But we’ve got a great group of guys in here now.

My first TV job after college was here. There was a part-time photographer position open and that really wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to obviously do sports but these guys back here convinced me that this was a way for me to get my foot in the door. To be honest, it wasn’t a lot of fun just covering news, but for some people, that is their thing. I mean I had to cover a fatal car wreck, school board meetings, city council meetings and fires and I was like, where is the fun stuff? So I was part-time for a year and then there was an opening in our Lynchburg office for a full-time photographer with benefits, so I went down and worked there for a year. That was even tougher because it was just you and that one other person working in that office. My first on-air job was in Charlottesville at WVIR and I went there as the third sports person, reporter/photographer. I went there for three years and then left and went to Bristol to work for WCYB. Then I came back here (WDBJ) when Roy passed away.

Perrin: Describe how you felt when you heard you were getting promoted to Sports Director at WDBJ.

Travis: It was pretty overwhelming at first because, I think the biggest thing was, I didn’t think Mike would ever leave. Mike had been here for so long and having worked with him for almost seven years, I knew what kind of responsibility came with the job. I knew all the work that went into it, especially in the fall when you are trying to produce stuff for your daily news cast and get ready for a half-hour show every Friday night. The TV stuff I’m fine with but it’s all the extra stuff like scheduling these guys (other employees in the studio) and figuring out who gets off when and stuff like that. It’s been just over a year and I’m finally getting the hang of it and starting to feel more comfortable.

Perrin: What is a common misconception that you think people have about working in the media industry?

Travis: That you make a lot of money (laughs). Like I said, I was a na├»ve kid in college and thought TV people made a lot of money. I mean there are some anchors that have been here for 20-30 years and they do make a lot of money but it doesn’t really start out like that. I think another misconception is that when people see us on the news at six and eleven, they think that is the only time we are at work.

Perrin: What are some tough obstacles that you have to face in the media industry?

Travis: I think one thing, and I found out this in the last year, you are not going to please everyone 100 percent of the time. We catch a lot of flack around here for covering Tech and not UVA, just things like that. Even with the high school stuff. Everyone wants more coverage for their team. Sometimes I will come in here on Mondays and I will have 30 emails from unhappy people. So just trying to manage that. Also, I think the economy has been a tough obstacle. We used to be able to travel as much as we wanted but everything is sort of looked at a little closer now. We ask if this is something that we really need to do, is it in a ratings period and what do we get out of it. So that’s been sort of a challenge the past three to four years.

Perrin: What else do you do in the studio besides anchor? Write stories/recaps?

Travis: We do everything which is one thing that is unique about the sports office and not always true about the newsroom. All three of us can shoot, report, anchor, write and produce the show. And I like that because if I screw up, I don’t have anyone to blame but myself.

Perrin: Describe what an average day is like for you.

Travis: I’ll get in the studio around two in the afternoon and start producing the show for five and six o’clock, which is about three to four hours before we actually air. I mean these guys are great, who ever is anchoring, we kind of take care of each other. We will edit and write stuff for each other so it is not such a burden on one person. I’ll get out of here around 6:30 for a couple hours for dinner and to see my kids before they go to bed and then come back in here around 8:30. After the show ends around 11:30, I’d love to go home right then but there is stuff to do after the show ends. We tape two segments for the morning show every night so by the time I’m finished that it’s about midnight. Then I’ll come back here and update the Internet and stuff like that so the earliest I am ever out of here is 12:30.

Perrin: What is advice that you would give to someone looking to become a sports anchor?

Travis: That’s a tough one. I think just network as much as you can and make as many connections as you can. Be yourself and be passionate about it. If you really want to do it, it’s not going to be easy, but just stick with it.

Perrin: Do you think it is more challenging for a female to become a sports anchor/director? Why/Why not?

Travis: Not now, no. Twenty years ago I would have said yes but not anymore. There are more and more female sportscasters and I think the main reason for that is people want to target that demographic. They want women to watch sports. I don’t want to say it’s easier or women don’t have to work as hard as guys but there are more opportunities now.

Perrin: Who do you consider are the standouts in the industry and why?

Travis: Wow, that’s a tough question. Mike Tirico is really good. You can tell the guys and girls that are really prepared because they just know their stuff. I was watching something on ESPN the other day and John Clayton was talking about the NFL and I was thinking that guy knew his stuff backwards and forwards. I had a guy tell me one time, “sell it don’t tell it”. You can tell when people have done their research just by their delivery and confidence.

Perrin: What is your favorite part of your job?

Travis: I think probably the people and just the relationships that are you able to build and maintain. That’s one thing I learned from Mike because he was really big on relationships. In this small community people don’t want to hear about the Yankees who play over 100 games. They want to hear what’s going on in their community so I think just building relationships and credibility with people. It’s cool to go up to Tech on a Saturday and your interviewing guys after the game, you see the mob around Tyrod Taylor. But it’s cool to sit back and let it fade out a little bit and get in there and talk to him. All the guys get used to seeing us and it’s hard when they leave! Like last year when Macho graduated it was like man, we were buddies! But I guarantee if I went to go shoot an Eagles game and walked into the locker room, Macho would say, “Hey what’s up man?”

Perrin: Is it harder to get a job doing sports rather than just the regular news?

Travis: It’s all pretty competitive. Sports are probably tougher now in this day and age because of the de-emphasis in the economy. People are cutting back and sports are usually the first thing to go because a lot of people don’t see it as a necessity.

Perrin: What would make me stand out from the thousands of other aspiring sports anchors?

Travis: Just be yourself and be conversational. Go in and have fun and let it all hang out. That’s one thing I have been trying to work on too. When I’m out in the field doing live shots, I’m pretty relaxed but it was not always like that. I mean you better know what you are going to say because there is no teleprompter. I try to have more fun with my anchoring because it is hard when you are just sitting there to show personality, which is something that I need to work on.

Perrin: What are some cool opportunities that you have had because of your job?

Travis: I’ve had a lot of opportunities. One was covering the national championship that Tech played in – the Sugar Bowl in 1999-2000. I get to go to the bowl games and races and stuff like that. They usually set tickets aside for the media’s family, which is nice, but they are not free.

Perrin: How do you decide what to wear for each show / event?

Travis: They expect you to wear a suit and tie when you are on the set anchoring but it is much more laid back when you are out.

Perrin: What do you like about your profession and what don't you like about your profession?

Travis: I think the biggest thing I like is developing the relationships and meeting the people and telling their stories. Even if they don’t know you, I want them to come away saying, wow he is a nice guy. As far as the things I don’t like, I’ve worked with a lot of people who have been in the business for the wrong reasons. So many people in this business have their egos get in the way and they just want to be on TV. So that’s probably what I dislike the most.

Perrin: Are you able to spend a decent amount of time with your family?

Travis: Yeah, I think so. You do what you have to. There are sacrifices obviously. I worked weekends for 8 years and that was tough because my wife was off weekends. Now, I have more weekends off but I usually don’t get to be at home at night so there are tradeoffs. You do what you have to.

Perrin: What do you enjoy to do in your free time?

Travis: I like to read, play golf, and work out.

Perrin: Where do you like to vacation?

Travis: We have gone to Myrtle Beach since I was knee high. But twice in the last four years we have been able to go to Hawaii because my wife won these incentive based sales trips. So this last year was the third time we went because we went to Hawaii on our honeymoon and we stayed three doors down from the place we stayed during our honeymoon, so that was kind of neat. Hawaii is my dream vacation and it will never get old.