American athletes are gearing up to ski, skate and slide their way to golden glory at this year’s Winter Olympics.
As part of NBC-TV’s coverage, the morning show “Today” will broadcast daily from Sochi, Russia. And in the middle of it all, Franklin native Brian Alkire will help make sure each story of inspiration, quirky anecdote and personal triumph hits home.
Alkire will be part of the production team for “Today” throughout this year’s games. He’ll be a runner, meaning he’ll be a go-to assistant in the creation of individual show segments and anything else that needs done.
The DePauw University senior will work side-by-side with anchors Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and Al Roker, while taking in one of the greatest spectacles in sports.
“I’m lucky. I feel like I saw a lot of shooting stars right in a row,” Alkire said. “There are so many people who would love to have the opportunity to do this.”
Alkire, 21, flies from New York to Moscow today and then will travel to Sochi. His assignment will keep him in the country until Feb. 24.
Arriving two weeks before the Olympic Games’ start will allow him to scout shooting locations, set up production facilities and prepare for when the competitions start.
Other than that, he’s unsure of what he’ll be doing.
“I’m learning as I go. There’s never been an internship or job in television where I’ve gone in and known what I’m doing,” he said. “I’m going in with applicable skills in the field and confidence and go from there.”
This will be Alkire’s highest-profile job but hardly his first foray in broadcasting.
Over the summer, he interned with “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” During his entire spring semester, he worked on “60 Minutes” as an intern for CBS News.
While interning for Discovery Communications, he helped develop a series for “Animal Planet” and compiled a list of interviewees for the hugely popular “Shark Week.”
“TV is such an interesting industry. Every day is different, and you never know what you’ll be doing,” Alkire said. “I’ve been fortunate to have a good base of skills. I’ve thrown myself into unfamiliar situations, and I have the confidence now to do these kinds of things.”
Alkire applied for the position last summer, as he was completing an internship with the “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” Having spent three months at NBC headquarters, his familiarity within the company likely helped him land a job with the Winter Olympics, he said.
But for those who know him, Alkire’s work experience sets him apart from others.
“He’s clearly talented, clearly has an eye for video work and is a pretty accomplished worker,” said Jonathan Coffin, assistant to the president at DePauw. “He is basically a get-things-done guy. He’s not going to say no to a challenge, and he’s not afraid to raise an idea and also not afraid to have an idea shot down.”
Alkire is also an intern working with Coffin, helping the school with video projects. He creates video content for the DePauw’s social media, Web site and other Internet platforms. He got the job because Coffin was impressed with his experience with D3TV, DePauw’s student-run 24-hour television network.
Alkire helped bring streaming live sports and remote production to the channel and founded shows such as reality cooking show “Taste of DePauw” and sports show “Tiger Sports Nation.”
Even before graduating from Franklin Community High School in 2010, he showed flashes of talent in video production. As part of the school’s broadcasting program, he showed a dogged approach to angle, composition and other video concepts, his teacher Don Wettrick said.
Wettrick has followed his career and could have predicted that he’d go on to do big things after high school.
“He was always professional. He was one of those students that was so thorough,” he said. “And competitive. He’d go out and look at other school’s video work and want to be just as good. Not a surprise that he’s had this kind of success.”
This will be Alkire’s first time outside the country. To prepare, he had to get an expedited passport and Olympic credentials at the end of August.
Because he’d be missing a month of school, he worked with DePauw and his professors to get assignments in advance. With any free time he has on flights and between work duties in Russia, he’ll try to keep up.
Both he and those he works with at DePauw understand that this is too valuable of an opportunity to pass up.
“This is a reflection of what Brian and what our students can accomplish,” Coffin said. “He’s a very well-rounded, educated college student, but he’s also developed an expertise that’s specific to television. We’re very proud of him.”
The Winter Olympics will be the last big college experience before he graduates in May. Looking to the future, he anticipates moving to New York and taking advantage of his connections to find a permanent job.
For now, Alkire is determined to enjoy this unique experience for what it is.
“By some stretch of the imagination, a kid from Franklin, Indiana, has the opportunity to do this,” he said. “And I’m not giving that up for anything.”