Alumni Profiles is an ongoing series highlighting successful graduates who, with a SUNY education, achieved interesting and influential careers.
Joseph Blake Biunno, affectionately known as J.B., has jump started his career in the broadcast news industry just one year after graduating from the University at Albany with a degree in Communication and Sociology. He currently works as a news anchor for WENY-TV in Elmira.
What was your involvement in any clubs/activities on campus?
As the Director of Albany Student Television from 2009 to 2010, I helped transform ATV into one of the most successful student-run television stations in the Northeast. In under two years, ATV’s membership tripled to over 200 students and programming increased to twelve regularly produced shows. I was also creator and Director of the UAlbany Field Reporting Program (FRP), a credit-based program designed to educate students in television field reporting. Both ATV and FRP are still successful on campus today.
How has SUNY shaped you into the person you are today?
I wouldn’t be where I am today without the extensively rich education I received at the University at Albany. Being a journalist, understanding how the world works from politics, to economics, to sociology is crucially important to my ability to accurately report. At UAlbany, not only did I take classes in media studies, but I was able to expand to take the courses I needed to provide myself with a well-rounded education — an education that helps me everyday when I report the news.
How did your major and minor programs and overall education at SUNY help prepare you for life and your career?
My communication major was incredibly vital to my current success. Learning about media techniques, theories and ethics mentally prepared myself for my first job in television. My sociology minor was just as important. Understanding how societies — from world superpowers to local municipalities — function is important to my understanding of how the world turns.
What advice do you have for current students studying in the Communication field?
Students studying communication or journalism should understand that nothing comes easy. You have to work harder than ever before to make it where you want to be, and it starts with the seats they’re sitting in right now. Once you prove yourself at the collegiate level, you can further advance your education in graduate school or you can choose the route I did and jump into the workforce. If you choose the latter, I have helpful advice: never get discouraged. You many send out dozens of resumes and not here a peep. Just be persistent, stay determined, and understand it takes only one break to get your career off the ground.
What’s a typical day at work like?
I work as an anchor, producer and reporter at WENY-TV News in Elmira, New York. I am a co-anchor on the 11:00pm newscast of Twin Tiers Tonight: Late Edition. Every night, Monday through Friday at 11:00pm, it’s lights, camera, action for the Late Edition news team. Most nights, I will produce the 35-minute show, including local, regional, national and international news in the newscast. Other nights, I’ll report in the field on a hyper-local story that impacts the lives of my viewers. I enjoy my job immensely and it’s a rush when you go into a store and people say, “you’re that guy from TV!” They rarely remember by name, but it’s still a fun moment regardless!
Anything else you’d like to share?
If you’re a student at UAlbany and are interested in learning about broadcast journalism or television production, don’t hesitate to become part of Albany Student Television. Just visit Campus Center Room 326 and you’ll find dozens of students just like you, learning more and more about the field I love. If you’re a little nervous, put on channel 16 in your dorm and watch ATV to see what you could become a part of!