Where Are They Now?
John Santucci ’11
BA Journalism and Political Science
In 2008, John was a sophomore, covering the debate as a reporter for WRHU 88.7 FM, Hofstra University’s student-run radio station. This year, he’ll be back on campus doing the same thing – as a segment producer for ABC’s Good Morning America and This Week with George Stephanopoulos.
What do you do as a segment producer?
As an editorial producer, I keep in contact with a variety of House, Senate and national political figures. My job is to get folks to come on GMA or This Week. It’s short-term – what’s news right now and who can talk about it? It’s also long-term strategy and planning for news events, like the presidential debates.
How did your experience covering the presidential debate in 2008 prepare you for what you do now?
Between the speakers and the guests and the dialogue created on campus during that time - I had the opportunity to cover it all. In my current role, I work with experts like James Carville and Mary Matalin on GMA, and I met them first on the Hofstra campus covering their speech.
I think about the chaos when the debate ended and I think about Spin Alley and running from one side of the room to talk to (former New Mexico Gov.) Bill Richardson and then chasing down (U.S. Sen.) Lindsey Graham. It was the best learning experience. It helped secure my understanding of politics, and my respect for political reporters. You got to see the pros do it and you were doing the same thing. You felt like ‘I can hold my own’.
What’s your strongest memory of Debate Day in 2008?
After passing through the Secret Service, seeing the campaigns, the banners, and the media; waiting several hours to stand in section 202 (of the David S. Mack Sports Arena, which was the site of the debate) and hear (debate moderator) Bob Schieffer say “Good Evening”. I just remember thinking ‘wow, the entire world is watching us’.
The other memory was being in Physical Fitness Center, which was the media filing center. I can vividly recall standing in the middle – Bill Richardson to my left, Lindsey Graham to my right, Nancy Pelosi and Eric Cantor behind me. I just had one thought – ‘who do I go after first?’
Did you meet anyone while covering the debate in 2008; make any professional connections that helped you once you graduated?
Because I had an internship with ABC News the summer prior to the debate, it was great to see the entire political team again and work with them. I became the driver for the debate’s executive producer because nobody could get around campus unless you had a Hofstra sticker. The debate was just another way to show the team from ABC what I could do, and was just the beginning of an incredible relationship.
How does it feel to be coming back to your alma mater to cover another debate?
Being a member of The Pride, you are filled with pride to come back home. Whenever Hofstra is mentioned in one of our planning meetings, it is very hard not to smile. Hofstra showed its skills, talent and resources four years ago – and now I have the opportunity to be part of the medium that will again shine a light on Hofstra. It is a privilege.