Making a living from a love of sports

Nate Johnson’22 ran cross-country and played baseball when he began college. When he transferred to Beloit to begin his junior year, however, he wanted a new way to participate in sports. At Beloit, he was able to develop the skills he needed to become a sports broadcaster.

Nate Johnson'22 in the WYBT studio Nate Johnson’22 graduated from Beloit on May 15. On June 20, 2022, he became WYMT’s newest and third full-time sports anchor.

Nate’s Beloit SkyCarp reporting package, posted on Linkedin, had caught the station’s attention. However, it was Nate’s ability to handle multiple responsibilities that led to an invitation to interview in Hazard, KY, even before Nate formally applied. The day after the interview, he had a job offer.

“My boss was impressed by my resume,” Nate tells us. “As a senior, I worked three jobs, including one at Home Depot, while finishing my degree, interning for the SkyCarp, and being actively involved at Beloit College. Plus, I had the specific skills needed for television and multimedia sports journalism.”

The ability to write well, handle a camera, and present yourself in front of a camera is essential in television sports reporting. Beloit helped Nate develop all three. Plus, Nate says, “Beloit College faculty didn’t hesitate to extend me a hand to help get me where I wanted to go, even though I was unknown when I arrived as a junior.”

A meeting with Brian Morello, facilitated by Nate’s mother, Kathryn Johnson, helped convince Nate to transfer to Beloit. Kathryn is a long-time Beloit staff member, working in the provost’s office, while Brian is a clinical instructor and director of Beloit’s Center for Entrepreneurship, CELEB.

“After Brian asked me what kind of career I might want in sports, he showed me around CELEB’s facilities, including the TV & Media Lab. He also talked about the encouragement students receive to develop skills they might need in a future career by pursuing projects they care about.” Brian also gave him a tour of the Powerhouse and its athletic facilities.

The encouragement was backed up with mentorship, advising, and coursework.

Nate Johnson'22 announcing a game while at Beloit College Nate Johnson’22 announcing a game while at Beloit CollegeWhen Nate transferred to Beloit to begin a media studies major, the course schedule had been modified to accommodate remote learning under the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of taking four courses over a 14-week semester, students took two courses in the first half of the semester, followed by two more in the second.

The change suited Nate; he could cherry-pick the courses he needed to meet Beloit’s graduation requirements. A media studies course he took in which students created and critiqued YouTube movies was both instructive and pertinent to his current work.

Professor of English and journalism Shawn Gillen was “super accommodating” as Nate’s advisor, making sure that Nate’s prior coursework would earn credit at Beloit, even when courses did not entirely match. Not only that, but Nate would be able to study abroad and still graduate within two years.

Iconic Brighton Pier, near where Nate studied abroad Iconic Brighton Pier, near where Nate studied abroadNate spent the first semester of his senior year at the University of Sussex, England. Not only did the experience at the university and Brighton, the neighboring city, expand his world view, but he was able to take media studies courses relevant, but not identical, to Beloit’s.

“I was able to take a course on photography, another on directing and filming movies in which I learned camera work, and a third on music production. All helped me prepare for what I do now.” He also made fast friends at the church he attended. Beloit’s study abroad advisor, Kathy Landon, was instrumental in ensuring that Nate and the other students traveling abroad for the semester were prepared.

Two more individuals at Beloit contributed to Nate’s success at Beloit: Jonathon Kelley, a visiting assistant professor of media studies and the station manager of Beloit Cable Access TV, and emeritus professor of music Ian Nie, who remains closely affiliated with CELEB.

“Jon always had my back 100%, no matter what I wanted to learn, from operating a camera, including in the field, to doing stand-up commentary.” Jonathan also taught Nate how to put together a sports reporting package; doing so is now a regular part of his job at WYMT.

Nate Johnson'22 right, Jonathon Kelley, center, and JT Toepfer'23 left. Nate Johnson’22 right, Jonathon Kelley, center, and JT Toepfer'23 left.With Jon and CELEB’s help, Nate also created BeloitTV’s Beloit in Action, a sports talk program produced by students. And Nate gained valuable practical career-readiness experience off-campus by doing public relations/media work for the SkyCarp, Beloit’s High-A Marlins affiliate baseball team. ABC Supply Stadium, the SkyCarp’s home base, is located less than a mile from campus.

Ian, in the meantime, not only instructed the two music classes Nate took while at Beloit, but gave him great advice while treating him as a friend. Nate now transfers lessons he learned from Ian about layering music tracks and matching sound with story to his sports reporting in Kentucky.

Thanks to Beloit, Nate is confident as he eases into his new job, interviewing high school players and coaches, filming practices, writing and editing his own stories, and assembling sports reporting packages. He’s also getting more comfortable driving to and from reporting locations in Kentucky’s Appalachian mountains along narrow, winding roads. Live broadcasting will begin in the fall; eventually Nate may also help cover University of Kentucky football and basketball.

As he looks back on his two years at Beloit, Nate recommends that students not hesitate to jump in to take advantage of opportunities at Beloit, and to get to know their departments and the faculty who teach in them. “Beloit College may be small, but it has fabulous resources. Faculty and staff will pay attention to you if you show interest. Take advantage of that!”

By: Elizabeth Brewer
August 09, 2022

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