Patrick Mirch, ’12, was taking cover in his apartment complex’s tornado shelter on May 28, 2019, when an EF-4 tornado tore through Linwood, Kansas. He was watching news coverage and was set to go into work at KMBC9 Kansas City a few hours later.
“The storm skipped over us and after it passed, my attention turned to work and making sure we were going to cover the tornado the way it deserved,” said Mirch, a producer at the station. “I went into work, and it was all hands on deck. We had our nightside team covering every aspect of the storm. My job was to come in and continue to tell the story of those impacted by the storm. We were able to do that well.”
So well that the team won a 2020 Emmy Award for its coverage of the tornado.
“I was watching the virtual awards ceremony with my wife and when they came to the category, I was nervous. They announced the winner, and the newscast won the award with another station for their tornado coverage. I was so excited, and then my phone started blowing up from people congratulating me. It was such a cool experience and one I can’t wait to experience again.”
But Mirch isn’t the only Baker graduate to win an Emmy Award. Calvin Pearce, ’12, photojournalist with NBC 7 San Diego, has won three, and Jordan Dolbin, ’13, manager of player social marketing for the National Football League, won a 2020 Emmy Award for her role as a producer for an NFL Productions project.
The trio has a lot in common beyond their Emmy Awards. While at Baker, they were athletes and mass media majors. Mirch and Pearce played football and were involved with the TV and radio stations, while Dolbin played soccer and excelled at photography and multimedia for the newspaper staff.
Pearce earned two 2019 Emmy Awards for coverage of the mass shooting that killed 13 people at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California. He won a 2018 Emmy Award for coverage of the Las Vegas mass shooting. Pearce said attending Baker and working with Dr. Joe Watson, chair of the Department of Mass Media and Visual Arts, directly influenced his career success.
“Baker played a tremendous role. Learning editing, working at the TV station, being able to produce segments and shows . . . It really helped me a lot. Joe held us to high standards. That makes my job today easier because I was already held to such high standards in college.”
For Mirch, having a chance to work with legendary broadcaster Tom Hedrick, ’56, attracted him to Baker. (Read more about Tom Hedrick.) “When I visited, Mr. Hedrick took time out of his day to talk to me on my recruiting trip. After getting a chance to talk with him, I was hooked and knew that I wanted to attend Baker.”
At first, Mirch wanted to be an anchor or reporter and wasn’t ready to take on producing.
“After some time on the TV staff, I took on the role of being a producer and loved it. The fact that I was able to put together something from scratch and make sure it all ran smoothly was something that I really enjoyed. The more I got to produce and even manage the station, the more I knew this is what I wanted to do.”Patrick Mirch, ’12
Like Pearce, Mirch said Baker’s high standards taught him to have a strong work ethic, which helps with handling the demand of the fast-paced news industry. “At Baker, you had an accountability with professors and other classmates to not only show up to class but do the work and put your best work forward. While working on the TV staff, it was all about teamwork and communication. Baker taught me the importance of communication and communicating well. That has translated clearly to my career as a producer.”
Every day in their careers is different for these three Baker alumni.
While Dolbin typically focuses on social media, she won her Emmy Award for her role as a producer for “NFL 100 Greatest and All-Time Team,” a six-week series that revealed a roster of 100 players and 10 coaches named “the greatest” in their respective positions. The series was part of the celebration of the NFL’s 100th season.
In Dolbin’s work with the NFL, she helps players stay active on social media—helping them identify and execute content ideas. “We help players showcase who they are on social media, and it’s not just solely focused on football,” she said in the Social on the Sidelines podcast, which aired July 10, 2019.
For Pearce, his workday starts in the middle of the night, and he’s often dispatched from his house to cover breaking news. “If it’s something like a crime scene, I have a short amount of time to collect video, try to get interviews with witnesses and law enforcement to figure out what happened and be ready to go live at 4:30 a.m.”
Mirch goes into work at about 10 p.m. to prepare the news show for 4:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.
“A producer is responsible for everything you see and hear in a newscast,” he said. “From the graphics, to what the anchors say and even what you hear. A producer is involved in some way, shape, and form to get that on air. But the producer’s job doesn’t stop once the shows start. During the newscasts, we are constantly juggling time, content, and breaking news.”
And even though every day might be different in the careers of these three alumni, their pursuit of excellence and applying the skills they learned at Baker is the same. And, of course, the idea of taking home another Emmy Award doesn’t hurt.
“My wife says she doesn’t want my awards on the fireplace, so I’m thinking I’m going to need to build something for them,” Pearce said.
Written by Jenalea Myers, '08