Evenings spent watching television with your grandmother don't always portend a career opportunity, but that was the case with Bob Bicknell, AS '90, who spent a "great and wonderfully normal childhood" in Piscataway, N.J., with a nightly routine of watching the news with his grandmother.
Today, as a producer for the CBS news program, Up to the Minute, he prepares the same types of news broadcasts for which they shared a passion.
Up To The Minute is an overnight news broadcast that the network describes as offering "very late workers, very early workers, insomniacs, parents of insomniac infants and anyone else in the growing Monday-through-Friday overnight audience a unique combination of hard news, news features, interviews, weather, sports, business and commentary."
The show draws material from the varied CBS News resources, including the CBS Evening News, CBS Newspath, affiliate stations, CBS Radio Network and CBS MarketWatch. It also rebroadcasts some of the best CBS News features that viewers may have missed during the daytime or evening broadcasts.
The program, which premiered in April 1992, is now in its 10th season.
"Producing Up To The Minute involves writing and editing stories on our own, re-editing stories that ran on the CBS Evening News or other broadcasts and field producing live events," Bicknell says.
"The most fun, by far, here for me, was producing the Democratic National Convention," he says. The convention, held in August 2000 in Los Angeles, provided a real-time test of his news instincts, which proved to be quite good. "I got stuck in the riots on the first night when President Clinton spoke, but I had my home video camera and the footage wound up on network air all over the country.
"I applied to UD because some friends of mine did," Bicknell says. "I wanted to go somewhere I had heard of, a college with a good English program, one far enough away from Piscataway that I could live my own life but close enough that I could go home when I wanted."
An important part of his college experience was serving on the staff of the student newspaper, The Review, for three years, Bicknell says. "I think that experience shaped my life more than any other."
While still a student, Bicknell started reporting during the summers for a Piscataway cable access news channel.
In 1989, the summer before his senior year, Bicknell gained an internship at WHYY-TV, the PBS station that serves Wilmington and Philadelphia. "I got hired, thanks to an oil spill on the Delaware River, because TV12 needed an assignment editor to fill in for someone doing a special report on the spill," he says.
In February 1990, during the second half of Bicknell's senior year, he secured a job as an assignment editor and writer for Fox TV's 10 O'Clock News in Philadelphia. He remained there for eight years, and, eventually, began producing its 10 O'Clock News, special reports and longer stories and then Good Day Philadelphia.
Bicknell left Philadelphia for a job as an executive producer in Albany, N.Y. He wanted to return to the New York City-Philadelphia metropolitan area, however, and took a position with NY1, a 24-hour, all-news station in New York City. In 1999, he joined CBS.
It has been a long and interesting journey from those evenings spent with his grandmother. It also has been rewarding. "I've been doing television news for 12 years now," Bicknell says, "and I still love it every day."
--Neil Thomas, AS '76