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Headshot of JCC alumni Jay HarrisJay Harris, '04

Major: Communication
Transfer Institution: State University of New York at Oswego
Current Position: Multimedia Producer for the Buffalo Bills
Current City: Buffalo, NY

How many young athletes grow up watching their favorite team, fantasizing about the day they’ll be able to don a helmet and take their place among their heroes?

Short of putting on the pads, Jamestown Community College alumnus Jay Harris is living out that childhood dream. As the former sports producer for WIVB-TV Channel 4 in Buffalo and current multimedia producer for the Buffalo Bills, he reports on the teams he worshipped as a boy growing up in Jamestown, NY.

“I grew up a HUUUUGE Sabres and Bills fan,” he exclaimed. “Finally realizing that you can get paid to cover those teams was a major pushing point for me.”

That realization sealed his fate. Jay Harris was going to become a sports broadcaster, no matter what.

Going into it, Jay knew that the road would not be easy. The media world was and is brutal, and it’s only the dedicated few who are able to build a career in it. Plus, Jay had another obstacle to overcome.

“I was really shy coming out of high school,” he admitted. Although he didn’t aspire to be the man in front of the camera, the very nature of his chosen profession meant that his work would be available to the public to judge, and sports fans are never ones to temper their critiques.

Jay Harris prepares a film segment at Ralph Wilson Stadium

Fortunately, Jay made the decision to attend JCC after graduating high school, where one of his first classes was a public speaking course, taught by Barbi Price.

It changed everything.

“I’m 100 percent behind the fact that public speaking broke me out of my shell and prepped me to showcase my skills to hundreds of thousands of the viewing public.”

After that class, there was nothing holding him back. He completed several internships in the Buffalo and Jamestown areas, and expanded his coursework so that it covered all aspects of TV broadcasting, not just sports. While at JCC, he also worked at Time Warner Cable 8 News as a photographer/graphics artist.

“Balancing school and work was tough,” Jay said. “But the fact that I could apply what I learned in the workforce to my schooling and vice-versa was a huge part of my learning experience.”

Jay still believes passionately in the importance of experiential learning. “Internships,” he explained, “are now a key part of what employers look for when they look for previous experience. And it’s not only saying you had an internship but having a reel/portfolio of the different job duties you performed while interning.”

After graduating from JCC, Jay enrolled at SUNY Oswego, the alma mater of ESPN anchor Steve Levy, to study broadcast/communications. While there, he became even more involved in the media world. If a job opportunity arose, he was going to be the one to grab it, he told himself. That’s how he ended up with the job he has today.

The road was long and not always straightforward—he once held a job answering phones at the front desk of a TV station just to make sure he was around and making contacts. Still, he insists that JCC was critical in helping him get to where he is now.

“JCC prepped me for Oswego and gave me the confidence that I could succeed not only in college, but in the professional world as well. The motivation for everything I’ve done and to persevere came from the springboard that was JCC.” 

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