After a day of reporting in the field, CBS journalists Alice Gainer, FCRH ’04, and Dick Brennan, GABELLI ’83, meet up each night at the anchor desk, ready to broadcast the 9 p.m. news on WLNY, a tri-state-area station owned by CBS.
Before becoming co-anchors, they each worked for WFUV, Fordham’s radio station, at different times in its history. But both emerged from that experience with all the confidence and skills of a Gotham reporter.
“I started working at FUV post 9/11,” Gainer says, and “I remember covering a lot of stories at City Hall on the EPA and air quality.” She stood alongside the city’s network news reporters, including some of her current colleagues. She says “being able to report on the same stories that the professionals are doing really gives you the edge” as a college student. For one, it meant the New Jersey native didn’t have to leave the area to start in a smaller market, like many young journalists do.
“We received the most invaluable training,” she says, praising George Bodarky, FCRH ’93, WFUV’s longtime news director. “He’s fantastic. Such a great teacher and so patient.”
An Emmy winner for her story on exploding manhole covers, Gainer says she likes covering breaking news “because it’s exciting and you’re under pressure to get it right.”
Brennan, who has two Emmys to his credit, worked at FUV before it became an NPR affiliate in 1988, when it was staffed entirely by students.
“You were running the place,” he said, “which I thought was great. We made all the decisions for better or for worse.” His classmates include Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay, New York Knicks announcer Mike Breen, and Access Hollywood producer Christine Fahey.
He recalls covering the presidential election in Washington, D.C., for WFUV in 1980, when Jimmy Carter conceded early. “I’m in the [hotel] lobby, Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn walk out. He comes right up to me and just looks at me and smiles.” Brennan says he was caught off guard and fumbled. “I learned the ultimate lesson. You better always have a question ready.”
Brennan’s first love as a reporter is politics, “the challenge of getting past what they want the story to be and for you to find what the story really is.”
The veteran newscaster, who was a longtime political reporter for Fox 5 and covered the war in Iraq, says he’s had to adjust to social media responsibilities, like tweeting while covering a breaking story. “Those one-liners might be the only news people get all day,” he says. But as the news business continues to evolve, both he and Gainer say the reporting skills they learned at FUV are as relevant as ever. “There are these rock-solid principles that matter,” Brennan says, “and that hasn’t changed.”