Pursuing Your Passion, Living Your Dream
"You have to do something that satisfies or fulfills you every day."
Ben Meyer (B.S.'10, History and Political Science) is living his dream as a news and sports reporter, producer, and anchor with WJFW Newswatch 12, the NBC affiliate in Rhinelander, Wis. Meyer has covered events such as President Obama's visits to Wisconsin, the mining controversy in northern Wisconsin, student protests in Rhinelander, and the Rose Bowl. Recently, Eliot Markman (B.A.'13, History), caught up with Ben.
Q: How did you get involved in broadcast journalism?
A: Broadcasting has always been one of my interests. When I was a kid, I would do play-by-play by myself. When I got to UW-Madison, I didn't know for sure that I would want to go into television or radio, so I thought I would major in something that I knew I liked to do, and that was political science. I pursued the broadcasting stuff I was interested in on the side by covering Badger sports for WSUM, the student radio station, calling the play-by-play for UW sports on the Big Ten Network, and interning with Rita Braver (B.A.'70, Political Science) at CBS News in Washington, DC.
Q: What is the value of your liberal arts honors degree? How do the experiences you had as an L&S Honors student affect your life and work today?
A: If you want a chance to go above and beyond the normal student experience at UW-Madison, the Honors Program is a great way to challenge yourself and ensure that you remain interested and engaged in a lot of diverse fields, and have the capacity and discipline to understand and learn about a lot of different things in the world. That was perfect preparation for my job today, because I have to stay current with what is going on in a lot of fields, whether it's politics, culture, the environment, or sports.
Q: What do you like best about your job at WJFW?
A: You know how, as a kid, you really looked forward to school field trips? In my job, I get to go on a different field trip every day and then talk about it on television at night. The thing I like most about those field trips is meeting new people, finding out what their life is all about, what interests them, and what cool things they do. I work in a quick-paced environment with bright, motivated people around me. And, I get to live in a place where most people only vacation.
Q: What is the most challenging part of your job?
A: The biggest challenge every day is deadlines - they are non-negotiable. When you do a story during the day, like I have to do, it has to be done by 5 p.m. I would say the immediacy of time is probably the biggest day-to-day challenge.
Q: What advice would you give to an 18-year-old who is just starting college and searching for a major?
A: Take classes and start thinking about majors that satisfy you instead of something you feel obliged to do. Just because you're good at math or science doesn't mean you have to major in them. You have to do something that satisfies or fulfills you every day.