Nick Harrer (’02) has always had an interest in broadcast journalism. Even at a young age, you could find him sitting at home each night watching the latest local newscast of the 1992 presidential campaign.
Much of Mr. Harrer’s journey to broadcast journalism was guided through relationships with alumni and staff. While participating in the Marching Illini in college, the women’s basketball coach approached the band to ask if any of its members had an interest in journalism. When Mr. Harrer raised his hand, the coach connected him with the President of CNN, an Illinois alum, and he was able to gain valuable experience through an internship at CNN Headline News. That experience confirmed his interest in both journalism and politics. He continued to find engaging topics in class that also guided his career path, such as his time in Scott Althaus’s course on political campaign strategies.
Mr. Harrer got an internship at WCIA, Channel 3, and was eventually hired full-time. Throughout his job, he enjoyed covering everything from national political campaigns to the Illini basketball’s 2005 run to the Final Four. Mr. Harrer now works as a Senior Producer for KTLA, a news station in Los Angeles. He has won four Emmys, two Golden Mics, and one Silver Dome award, in addition to many regional awards for him and his team.
As Mr. Harrer reflects on his time at Illinois, he expresses gratitude for the staff and alumni who encouraged him along the way. When receiving his award for the 2019 Young Alum of the Year this April, Mr. Harrer stated that “virtually every one of those doors that opened up for me had University of Illinois alums standing on either side of it”.
For current students, Mr. Harrer suggests getting involved, attending classes, and “pursuing your other passions – whether they be music or sports or anything else.” He adds that “no matter what you study or what you’re interested in, I think you’ll learn the same lesson I have – that the University of Illinois will open doors for you that you didn’t even know were there, often in places you never thought to look. And more often than not, I think you’ll find a fellow Illini waiting there to give you a hand”.