“Luck is when opportunity and preparation come together.” St. Louis native Andrew Salsman says this quote perfectly represents his entrance into the world of broadcast journalism. Once a Whitfield student (’99) working on the newspaper and yearbook, Salsman is now an Emmy-winning producer at MSNBC. With a demanding schedule that doesn’t lend itself to long vacations or many holidays off, Salsman admits he still has to stop and take note of his good fortune. “I always say, if you had told yourself 20 years ago this is where you’d end up, you’d be impressed!”

T&S | When did you become interested in journalism?
Andrew Salsman | I was always a good writer and, unlike most teenagers, was interested in reading the newspaper and watching the lead on the 10 p.m. news. The combination of my interest in current events and love of writing led me to journalism. It wasn’t until I was in college at the University of Maryland College Park that I decided between print and broadcast.

T&S | What led you to broadcast?
AS | I took a couple of core classes my junior year and loved them. I realized I couldn’t stand to watch myself on TV, and that reporters have to start in very small markets. But as a producer, you can start in a medium-sized market right out of college. When I took a class in producing my senior year, I knew it was what I wanted to do.

T&S | How was it breaking into the job market?
AS | I was online every day my last semester of school checking job posts and sending out my resume. The husband of one of my teachers was a news producer at Fox 45 in Baltimore, and he was looking for a part-time associate producer at night on the weekends. I was offered the job the same day as my interview. To get your first break, no one can succeed on just luck. You have to work for your dream job, you have to earn it—and then you have to keep working to maintain it and get to the next step.

T&S | Wise words. What was your next step?
AS | I moved to Baltimore after graduation and moved up to line producer. I had a couple other gigs before landing at News 4, the station of record in Washington, D.C., where I worked on the
morning show for five years. It’s where I won an Emmy for my newscast on Hurricane Irene.

T&S | How did you get to your current position?
AS | I applied for a position at MSNBC and after many rounds of interviews and challenging tests, I started in 2014 as a line producer and filled in for the senior producer for a weekend political show, UP. With the onset of the election, we switched to more breaking news-driven political coverage. Our coverage is 90 percent politics, and it’s a high bar to cross to cover something else. But we produced a lot on the blizzard in January, and we were heavily focused on the bombings in Paris and Brussels. I produce about three to four hours, mostly on the weekends. It’s a small staff, and the days are very different because we have to be flexible if something big comes up.

T&S | What is a typical day like?
AS | Weekdays are spent preparing for the show, reading and figuring out where things will go; I’m off Monday and Tuesday, but I’m still expected to pay attention to what’s going on and do my ‘homework.’ Saturday and Sunday are show days. On a Saturday we produce a 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. show, I get to work at 5 a.m. to put the rundown together (which reporters have which stories). I make sure everything times out well, write introductions for reporters and other pieces, and confirm everyone is in place. Once I’m in the control room, I connect with all the reporters and get them the sound bytes and elements they need. I make sure they wrap on time, we’ll get about a 10 minute break and then start it all over for the 2 p.m. show. It’s tiring but rewarding.

T&S | The buzz around the election must be exciting.
AS | There is always something to cover! I’ll wake up on one of my days off and have 90 emails from different producers with little nuggets of what’s happened. Interest will die down after the election, but there still will be hype around the new president, especially depending on who it is.

T&S | Do you get back to St. Louis often?
AS | We haven’t been in a while but are hoping to visit this year. I do miss Imo’s Pizza and Ted Drewes. My wife ordered freeze-dried Imo’s by mail, and it just wasn’t the same!

Andrew lives in Pennsylvania with his wife Stacey and their two daughters, age 5 and 2.