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Alumni Success Story

News Is 'Adrenaline Rush' for Emmy Winner Benavides

By Rosemary D'Amour

SOC Brandon Benavides

Six years after graduating from American University, Brandon Benavides, SOC/MA ’04, is back in Washington. With three Emmys under his belt from his work in Minneapolis, Benavides is now at WRC-TV/NBC 4, right across the street from his alma mater.

“The goal has always been to work here,” Benavides says. 

He is one of many content producers, working staggered shifts throughout the 24-hour news cycle to assist with broadcasts. Benavides’ day begins at 2 a.m., where he prepares script and video for the morning shows at 4:30, 5, and 6. He drinks a few Dr Peppers for energy and works through 11 for the midday show. 

“To have this job, you have to have a little ADD, things are always happening,” he says. “Every day is a little bit different. And the breaking news, when it’s an adrenaline rush, that’s what I like.” 

Benavides says a certain amount of fluidity is needed in his field, not only to keep your cool when a camera feed from a live reporter stops working, but also to adapt to an ever-changing newsroom where writers need to write for the web and broadcast, and edit video.

“Before, everything was split up, but not anymore. Everybody has to be able to do everything,” he says. “And everything I do now, I learned at AU.” 

While at AU, Benavides interned with Dateline NBC, in the same building where he now works. Two years after graduation, he began working in Minneapolis for KSTP, where he received three Emmys for the station’s coverage of the city’s bridge collapse in 2007. 

Benavides began as a student member of National Association of Hispanic Journalists in 2004, and is now the D.C. Chapter President. Also a member of NAHJ is one of Benavides’ mentors and former professors, the division director of journalism at AU, Jill Olmsted. 

“The AU connection really does continue beyond the classroom,” said Olmsted. “It’s a real strength. Because we’re a small university, you get a lot of individual attention, and we really get to know our students.” 

Benavides says the practical knowledge and connections he gained at AU helped him to work his way up to where he is now. 

“In this field, it’s all about experience,” Benavides says. “I wouldn’t have been able to do the things I’ve done if I hadn’t gone to AU.”