The Communication Arts Department hosted a “Good Morning Event” with guest speaker Bruce Levinson, who described his life in the media and how he did not start there right after graduation.
“Majoring in hotel management, I got an opportunity to work at a hotel in New York. I went to work in a tuxedo every day, it was a crazy way to start my professional career. I found that the hotel business was absolutely not for me,” said Levinson chuckling.
Levinson worked at the Plaza Hotel for 10 months before he realized that he spent four years in college only to hate his profession. He had to figure out how to navigate out of this tough situation.
“You guys might find that you are in this situation too. I think it is really important to follow your passion and not worry about the money. The money seems to find a way to you. Try to find that position that makes you excited to wake up on Monday morning,” Levinson said.
After leaving the hotel business, Levinson got into the wine and spirits industry. He had a friend in New York that knew a company that was hiring and would allow Levinson to experience something new. With this company, he traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to sell wine and beer to local bars.
“My boss at the time was teaching me everything I needed to know about wine during the day but had me traveling to bars in Atlanta at night. I was paying bartenders to sell the beer that my company was making instead of the rival beer,” Levinson said with a smile.
Later Levinson ended up in Tampa, Florida and that is when he had what he describes as his mid-life crisis event. He decided that he wanted to go into acting. He called his parents up for the second time and told them he was ready to do something else.
“I kind of fell into an opportunity to be an actor. I did a couple of commercials. I learned how to market myself, brand myself and I am the product now. I learned in the process how to work with a business,” Levinson said.
Levinson showed several commercials that he played a part in and laughed at the content within them. He described the work that celebrities did within commercials and how their pay depended on the number of plays the commercial received.
“How could I possibly decide I wanted to get out of the acting business and get back to real life? How would I tell a potential employer what my careers have been and the risk that they are about to take with me,” Levinson said.
But in the back of his mind, he always knew he wanted to be a sports broadcaster. So he chased after that dream.
“My parents thought that hotel management was going to be a much more stable choice, but I always knew that I wanted to work in sports broadcasting. That is what my passion was. I watched a guy do his broadcast and when he was done I followed him to the station. I went to the back door and just knocked on the door,” Levinson said.
Levinson then sat in on the operation, learned how to edit, met new people at the station and eventually earned a paid position at the station.
“It came from not being afraid to knock on the door and also being able to work for free. If you are in the media business, media to a lot of people is sexy. Something is cool about working in radio or on TV. The whole principle is supply and demand,” Levinson said.
Levinson’s advice is in order to get a good role in media, a person must be willing to work for free, put in the time and get their name out there so the media industry knows who they are.
“A friend of mine was in the cable business and I became involved in sales for some of his business. I moved around a lot after that. I went into Fox Sports and I was having so much fun in these different places,” Levinson said.
He wove his way through different cable companies and worked for each one in different ways. He ended up with NBC, achieving his dream of being a broadcaster.
“This guy from hotel management is now with a major brand doing some cool things! I never would have imagined as a 23-year-old that I would be where I am now,” Levinson said.
This opportunity for students to meet with a media professional that has such a diverse background allows students to know that sometimes things do not go as planned. Western provides opportunities for students to talk with professionals as often as possible to give them another look at what is possible in the real world.
Story by Grace Flynn.