Alumnus of the Month: December 2008
Josh Bernstein '91
What is your edge (strength)?
My strength is my creativity and desire to always do the best and the right thing regardless of the circumstances.
What at Hofstra gave you your edge?
I had a wonderful two year internship in the old “Hamilton House” with SportsChannel, my first experience in the entertainment industry. It was the starting point of my career and I owe it to Hofstra for giving me that opportunity.
In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
What was your major?
Liberal Arts Major with concentrations in Communications, Speech Arts and English.
What was your favorite class?
Favorite class was Dr. Gene Pressel’s Speech classes. I took every one of them that he taught because he entertained me so much.
What is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
My fondest memories were my time learning TV, in both the class room and through my internship at SportsChannel. Most of my career was shaped between 1989-1991 when I was learning about TV at Hofstra.
What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
I work in the sports entertainment field. I was in TV from 1994-2006 with ESPN and now am the Vice President of Communications for the New York Islanders. Sports has always been a major passion of mine. My first foray into TV and sports was at Hofstra in 1989 when I interned for SportsChannel America on the campus of Hofstra University.
Who in your field do you most admire?
I most admire my mentor and friend from ESPN, Jack Obringer.Jack is a Senior Coordinating Producer at ESPN. I learned so much from about the business, but more about how to be a good person in a very tough and competitive business.
What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
My first job after I graduated from Hofstra was at ESPN in Connecticut. It was an entry level temporary Production Assistant job. I was hired for six months with no promises for the future, but stayed for 12 years. I learned every aspect of the TV business there.
What advice would you give current Hofstra students?
I would tell them to get out there and do things. Only so much can be learned in a classroom, and there is no doubt what you are learning in the classroom is equally important. But there is no substitute for some real life experience. Volunteer your time to an internship. Don’t worry about the pay. Take it seriously and it will pay you back in ways money can’t.
How do you balance work and life?
This is not easy. You spend so much time at work that it is so important to enjoy your job. It is such a vital part of your life, but it’s important that it is not your life. I have always succeeded most at work when I was happy at home. It’s important at some point to leave the work at work, and make time for friends and family.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I will be almost 50 in 10 years.
In 10 years I see myself at the New York Islanders.
I hope that I have several Stanley Cup rings on my fingers.
I hope at that point to also have a nice public speaking career working for myself, talking about my career and what I have learned over the years.
What is the single most rewarding experience in your career thus far?
The single most rewarding experience was working as the producer of the 6pm SportsCenter program on ESPN and winning an EMMY Award in 2003. Winning one the next year as the Coordinating Producer of the show was equally rewarding.
Do you have a favorite quote or saying that has kept you motivated through the years?
“Ask not what your company can do for you, ask what you can do for your company”
What does a “typical day” look like for you?
With the Islanders we just launched a new show called “Islanders Illustrated” on MSG Plus Network. Our typical show consists of shoots out in the field, interviews with players, highlights of games and analysis from experts on the team. During the course of my work day with the Islanders, every day is different, which is what makes the job so exciting. Overseeing our communications department gives me the opportunity to work on radio, TV, internet, print, sponsorship, ticket sales, etc…and a different challenge every day.
You spent twelve years at ESPN- what prompted you to make the jump from ESPN to your next opportunity, and what were the challenges you faced in adjusting to a different company’s culture?
This was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. Growing up on Long Island as a huge Islanders fan, the opportunity to work for my team was incredible. It was such a change for me on so many levels. The hardest part for me was that after 12 years working in TV, there wasn’t a day where I felt uncomfortable in what I was doing because I had the experience and the comfort level.
My biggest challenge when I came to the Islanders was that there wasn’t a day where I felt comfortable, at first, because it was all brand new for me. That feeling has gone away after 2 and a half years thankfully!
Hofstra Liberal Arts major Josh Bernstein ‘91 recently wrote and produced a critically acclaimed commercial(featuring supermodel Christie Brinkley) for the New York Islanders, which aired on the nationally syndicated show “Extra” in an entertainment segment.
In 2006, Josh joined the New York Islanders as Vice President of Communications. With the Islanders, he launched Islanders TV, the first 24 hour internet television network focusing on a professional sports franchise. In one season, over 350,000 fans in more than 50 countries watched “ITV” for a staggering 80,000 hours.
Josh came to the Islanders with 18 years experience in the field of television, winning Emmy awards for his work producing NHL and NFL programming for SportsChannel America and ESPN. At ESPN he was the Associate Producer and then Producer of NHL2night, the league’s only nightly television show in the United States. In 1996 and 2003 he won Emmy Awards for his work on the SportsCenter, which won in the “Best Daily Studio Show” category. In 2004 Josh became the Coordinating Producer of SportsCenter, which won its 2nd consecutive Emmy Award in the “Best Daily Studio Show.”
In addition to his duties as Vice President of the Islanders, Josh is currently the Executive Producer of the program “Islanders Illustrated” which airs bi-weekly on the MSG Plus TV Network, and oversees a magazine of the same name which is a subscription based monthly publication.