LI News Tonight History

For nearly a quarter of a century, the New York Institute of Technology has produced a nightly television newscast on its campus in Old Westbury, New York. NYIT’s LI News Tonight is one of the few programs in the region where college interns can cover breaking news and feature events alongside reporters and photographers from professional news stations, and have their work seen that evening on our nightly TV newscast.

Over the past 25 years, our alumni have been hired as journalists in the New York metro area, in cities across the country, and at news organizations in Russia, Spain, Greece, Sweden and Israel. It all started back in 1983, when Professor Efim Brook and Dr. Adrienne O”Brien founded NYIT’s LI News Tonight with the common goal of getting students to “learn by doing.” Students were given an opportunity to get involved in reporting, shooting, editing and writing news stories ranging from breaking news to sports to entertainment. The front man for this new show was former Channel 21 news anchor John Miller who was joined by chief correspondent Derren Weisenbach, production manager Mark Grossman, and a young video engineer by the name of Herb Savran, along with several student reporters.

Since that time, our roster of professional staff has grown to include Sharon Annunziata, Bill Badger, John Bradley, Mike Budronis, Linda Cohn, Tom Downes, Ken Eckhardt, Dave Feuerman, Robin Frank, John Gallagher, Rich Glanzer, Junior Gordon, Randy Hepp, Elizabeth Kramer, Jim Lambriola, Gary Licker, Paul McAniff, Carol Pack, Anthony Piazza, Herb Savran, Susan Schweers, Drew Scott, Mark Sills and Brian Wu. For six months before their first newscast, the crew put together practice shows to work out the bugs. “While we were doing the test shows, there was some doubt as to if we could actually pull it off.,” said Grossman. “But after the first show, we knew it would last a while. When Efim Brook asked me ‘How did it go?’ My first response was, ‘Well, the whole is a lot better than the sum of its parts.'”

At the beginning, NYIT’’s LI News Tonight didn’t have its own studio. The news was produced and edited on the second floor of Education Hall while the show was taped one floor below, in the TV production studio. “During the day they would have [TV] classes,” said Grossman. “Then, we would hoist the set in and reset the lights. They had to leave tape marks on the floor to know where everything went… it was rough for a few months.” Then the show finally got its own set. “At first, the set had a cut out window over the anchors shoulder, so you could see the control room in the background,” Savran remembers. “They did this because newscasts at the time looked too fake. We wanted to be more realistic by showing students changing tapes and switching in control room.”

Long Island cable at that time, consisted of seven separate cable companies, and none of them had a news show. News12 did not yet exist and PBS Channel 21 had stopped producing a daily news show, so there was a period of time when NYIT’s LI News Tonight was the only cable TV newscast on Long Island. In fact, a study conducted by NYIT at the time, revealed Long Island didn’t receive much coverage from the network affiliates and there was a tremendous need for local news coverage.

When Charles Dolan bought many of the Long Island cable stations and created Cablevision, NYIT Provost, Dr. David Salten, arranged a meeting at Telecare with Father Tom Hartman, who gave NYIT’s LI News Tonight a 15 minute timeslot, extending potential distribution into more than a million homes.

In April of 2002, student-reporter Monique Brook, news director/anchor Ken Eckhardt and program director Gary Licker won a New York Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Programming about the Arts, for a special edition of the show called “Co-stars and Roommates,” beating out two other programs on PBS/WLIW and The Metro Channel.  The Emmy win was a first for NYIT’s LI News Tonight and the most prestigious award it has ever won. The most recent event to shape NYIT’s LI News Tonight is the renovation of its news studio. For three weeks, the news room had to be temporarily relocated. The new set was completed on Feb. 24th 2003 and debuted the following night. The set finally had the look of a professional 24 hour newsroom, complete with a “control room” graphic in the background (mimicking the original window cutout to allow viewers to watch students in the control room). The new set was only part of the renovation. The NYIT Computer Labs created a new computer graphic introduction for the show including new music.

NYIT’s LI News Tonight continues to evolve, now placing more emphasis on stories involving community issues that affect our viewers, rather than relying on adage: “If it bleeds, it leads.” And we’re diversifying outlets for our interns’ work, including podcasts, partnerships with other organizations, and uploading individual reporter packages to YouTube.

Facilities and Equipment

NYIT’s LI News Tonight is located on the Old Westbury, Long Island, NY campus in Education Hall 104. The anchor desk is the first thing you’ll see when entering our professionally designed newsroom , not far from our wall of awards. There is a work area for reporters complete with Dell computers and telephones. The News Director and Assignment Manager have desks nearby, where they’re readily assessable to help reporters with their work. This working area of the newsroom becomes the backdrop to the news set during the taping of the show.

Behind the scenes, you´ll find SONY and Avid linear and non-linear editing facilities. And in our equipment room, NYIT´s LI News Tonight has modern equipment including SONY DSR digital cameras and wireless microphones as well as all the peripheral equipment needed for electronic news gathering.


The comings and goings of former LI News Tonight interns

Congratulations Sarah Danik who got a job with WOI-TV in Des Moines, Iowa just in time to cover the Iowa caucus.

Kudos to Bejoy Joseph who has accepted a position as an anchor/assignment editor/reporter at WOAY-TV in Beckley, West Virginia.

Catch Cat Greenleaf’s features on WNBC-TV’s Today in New York.

Jackie Hyland has returned to New York from Dallas, Texas, and is now reporting for WCBS-TV.

Congratulationss Andrea Fasano who is now reporting for the internet sports show: PressPassTV.

And Kudos to Michael Artsis who is co-founder of the aforementioned PressPassTV.

Sean Bergin, who was recently reporting for RNN, can now be seen reporting on News 12 Long Island.

Congratulations Keith orpheus who’s now a photographer for News 12 Long Island.

Kudos to Amy Feigenbaum who’s now reporting for WWCP Fox 8 TV in Johnstown, Pennslyvania.

Kudos to KGWN’s Krista Watzel for her 1st place win for NYIT’s LI News Tonight in the Public Service category of the 2007 Press Club of Long Island’s Media Awards Competition.

Congratulations to WETM Naveen Dhaliwal who won both 2nd and 3rd place for NYIT’s LI News Tonight in the Business/Economic/Financial category of the 2007 Press Club of Long Island’s Media Awards Competition.

Good Job! to Andrea Fasano, Kandi Lynn and Jennifer Rampersad who all won scholarships this year from the Press Club of Long Island and Newsday.

Congratulations to Jill Wagner for winning a 2007 FOLIO Award from the Fair Media Council for her story, “Mikey’s Way.”

Best wishes to CW11 Commutercast reporter Alyssa Coleman who just got married on June 16th 2007.

Congratulations to reporter Lori Bordonaro who recently left WHDH in Boston for MY9 here in New York.

And a pat on the back for Michael DelGiudice, Elizabeth Hashagen, Jim Lunning, Shari Einhorn, Vincent Shields, Dave Garden, Christine Insinga, Greg Cergol and John Albertson who were all winners in the 2007 Press Club of Long Island’s Media Awards Competition.

Stay tuned for the biggest news of the last quarter century.  NYIT’s LI News Tonight will be celebrating its silver anniversary (or as we like to think of it: our Silver Jubilee!!!) this year.  So prepare to get together with old friends on October 17th, 2008 at NYIT’s deSeversky Center.


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