“I was given the privilege to ‘cut my teeth’ by hosting an hour of "The Crossroads" one day a week . . . [that] was my time to shine.”
Even as a student at Patterson Mill High School, Brett Hall knew that he wanted to pursue a career in broadcast journalism. During his senior year, Brett applied and was accepted to several colleges but, when it was time to make a final decision, he decided he would start college by taking advantage of “the great resource right in my hometown” and he registered for classes at Harford Community College.
Brett said he gained invaluable experience as a student at HCC. “Several of the jobs I’ve held in this great industry were possible because of an opportunity I was given while attending HCC.” Brett started his radio career at the College’s radio station, WHFC 91.1 FM, in September 2011 as a volunteer radio host. “I was given the privilege to ‘cut my teeth’ by hosting an hour of "The Crossroads" one day a week . . . [that] was my time to shine.”
He said, “While I promise you the broadcast was nothing special in those days, Gary Helton must have seen something in me that I didn't see in myself. Sometime in early 2012, Gary needed the day off and couldn't find anybody to fill in on our flagship morning show, "Jazz in the Morning." I can remember him telling me, ‘You’re all we got, kid! Do you know how to do a traffic report?’ The answer was a big NO. I hadn’t even had a driver’s license that long. How was I supposed to give traffic reports every 20 minutes and play music? Long story short, I did it! The station didn’t go off the air, I didn't break anything, and I ended up filling in several more times.”
In June 2013, Brett ran into HCC and WHFC alum Dave Hovel in Bel Air, who was the program director then at WXCY-FM in Havre de Grace. He needed someone to fill in for a traffic reporter at WXCY. “Dave asked if I was interested in giving it a try and that’s how I got my first paid job in radio!” Since then, Brett has also been a DJ on Baltimore's WWMX-Mix 106.5, New Country 106.1 and 103.7 WXCY and has served as a reporter for Baltimore/Washington's NewsRadio 99.1 WNEW-FM and Wilmington's 1150AM WDEL.
Brett highly recommends HCC to others. He confesses that, even though he was not always the best student, Harford provided him with the environment to learn how to be successful and enhanced his passion and enthusiasm for the field. Dedicated faculty and staff including Gary Helton, the station’s coordinator; Justin McAllister, WHFC-FM radio assistant; Charles Brown, adjunct faculty in Economics; and Dr. Stephanie Hallock, Professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences, were among those who helped Brett along the way.
His time at HCC built his confidence and formed the perfect steppingstone for his transfer to the University of Maryland in College Park. He was surprised to find that the radio operation at HCC far exceeded the one at UMD. “I don't think I would’ve had some of the opportunities I did if I had started my training at the University of Maryland radio station.” Brett graduated in May 2015 from the prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. He was awarded the Julie Gavlan Outstanding Campus Member Award by the Society of Professional Journalists.
Since July 2015, Brett has been employed by Hunt Valley, Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group, which operates the local NBC, CBS, and CW TV stations in Syracuse, NY. “On paper, I am a ‘multimedia journalist,’ which really equates to a jack-of-all-trades type at a TV station. I shoot, write, edit, and present a story from our surrounding community on TV, five days a week. Sometimes it’s a story of personal triumph, and other times I am asking tough questions to hold our elected leaders accountable. In addition to the TV aspect, I am expected to write stories for our website, keep a presence on social media, and appear at community events.”
He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Radio Television Digital News Association and was nominated in August for "Best Reporter" in Syracuse by the Syracuse New Times magazine. He recently returned to visit his alma mater and reconnect with those at HCC who helped launch his successful career in broadcasting.