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Alumni of the Month

April 2015
Michael Sorrentino 2005

Q & A:

1) What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?

My favorite class was definitely AVF 165 because it was the closest thing to real life. We all had to pitch a full-length show on the first day of class and then would have the rest of the semester to produce it. Of course, mine was the first one up, so I had three weeks to put it together. This was my first real baptism-by-fire experience in TV, and I absolutely loved every second of it. That class truly sealed many solid friendships between myself and my fellow classmates. Dr. Peter Gershon drew a passion out of us that many didn’t know existed. I still work with some of the people from that class.

Professor Nancy Kaplan was an important person to me. I was a freshman and still not taking college too seriously, and she called me out on it. She took the time to sit with me, one on one, and really give me the lay of the land in the real world. She was the person who truly ushered me from being a student to an adult with responsibility.

2) What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?

My first job was as a production assistant at Fox News Channel. The most valuable lesson from that job was the importance of structure and deadlines. My boss required us to be in the door at 8 a.m. If we were one minute late, she would tear us apart. If I missed a deadline and something didn’t make air – I really felt the heat. It was an important foundation for my career.

3) What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?

I specialize in two things: finding and creating unique content, and training people to be their best. At Fox, I transitioned from producer to Manager, Jr. Reporter Program – where I managed a team of backpack reporters. I worked my way up the ladder there because I had both the skills to train and manage and an eye for compelling stories that weren’t on every other front page. I have been able to use these skills to run a successful side business in media training.

I got into this business because it’s something different every day. I’ve been given the wildest tasks, from NASCAR driving to arranging to have an elephant in Midtown Manhattan. I love that about my job.

4) What advice would you give Hofstra students?

Be nice to everyone. You never know who you’ll be working for one day.

5) In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?

Instrumental.

6) What are some of the main criteria you look at when choosing what stories to feature?

I always look for stories that I would want to watch or read.

7) What is your favorite aspect about working for TheBlaze?

What drew me to TheBlaze is the role it is currently playing in transforming traditional TV into a new medium. Everyone knows that traditional cable TV is changing from a subscription-based model to an á-la-carte model that is more interactive (AppleTV, Roku, Amazon TV). TheBlaze is one of only three companies that has found success in cord-cutting (breaking away from one’s cable subscription) and is still creating highly produced content for a dedicated audience. I came here to be a part of that.

8) How does your job as Senior Producer, Program Development compare to being in the field reporting?

Variety and control. In addition to daily news, I work on many long-form specials that can take several months to produce. I also work on creating new digital content that lives in places like YouTube. If I see a story I like or a topic that’s interesting, I can produce it.

I loved being in the field; it was always an adventure. Now that I’m a little older and married, I like that I’m not always on the road.

9) What is the story behind theinvention of your new product, the EyePatch phone case?

The EyePatch Case is a smartphone case with a unique feature: a fabric-lined sliding switch that covers the cameras on your phone – to protect the lens from scratches and smudges and add privacy.

The EyePatch Case was a random idea that popped into my head. I was listening to the radio and heard the DJ talking about putting tape over his iPad camera. I thought, “Someone has to make a case with a sliding camera cover” – and no one did, so I created it!

I did a ton of research and development before settling on a concept that worked. After months of outreach and social media marketing, I ran a successful crowd-funding campaign to raise the funds to build the case.

I officially launched the EyePatch Case at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas this year, and it’s been a wild success. While it is a lot of work on top of my media career, inventing a product and bringing it to market has been an incredibly thrilling ride.

Michael Sorrentino

Michael Sorrentino is a veteran in TV news with over a decade of experience in producing. From the field to the studio, he has worked with the most seasoned anchors and reporters in the business.

Michael is best known for recruiting and grooming many of Fox News Channel’s top on-air field reporters. He launched Fox’s Junior Reporter program, which sought out the best and brightest intrepid reporters and taught them how to do news on a national level. Studio to the field, writing to on-camera delivery, his system is still used today to develop talent for Fox News Channel.

Today, Michael is the Senior Producer of Program Development, in charge of developing and producing new programming for TV and digital platforms at TheBlaze. Outside of his TV career, an entrepreneurial spirit led him to create a successful smartphone case startup called EyePatch Case.