As a general assignment reporter for WPTV in West Palm Beach, Florida, Andrew Lofholm '07 covers everything from city council meetings and court cases to crime scenes and hurricanes.
The following is an interview with Andrew Lofholm, originally obtained for a story in the 2019–20 Convent & Stuart Hall Bulletin featuring alumni who are adapting and thriving in the fast-paced world of media and entertainment.
What do you remember most about your time at Stuart Hall High School?
The sense of community, close friendships with teachers and students, and baseball.
What is something fun or interesting that people might not know about Stuart Hall?
Our underground gym is pretty cool. We would set up an entire batting cage there whenever we had indoor baseball practice.
Were you especially curious as a child — drawn to TV, radio and books?
I watched the 10 o'clock news nightly with my mom and read Sports Illustrated religiously. I loved stories and how they're told. I knew I had to do something story- and media-related for as long as I can remember. It was just a matter of what.
When did you realize you wanted to be a TV reporter?
As an intern at KTVU, after the first day shadowing a reporter in the field, I realized the entire world could be your office for a day. And you had to know something about nearly everything. My sights were set in stone after that day.
As a general assignment reporter, what types of stories do you cover?
I cover everything from bad weather to city council to court cases and murders. Anything that people are talking about, I cover it. Sometimes we even tell good news.
What are a few stories you've enjoyed covering most?
I followed a high school teacher's cancer fight from him asking for off days from colleagues, to getting better and returning to the classroom. The story was picked up all over the world.
I did a story about a veteran who wasn't getting any disability from the Department of Veterans Affairs despite documentation that his cancer was caused by his service. Once I asked the VA for comment, they gave him his benefits and backdated it several years so the vet could finally retire.
Briefly describe your experience reporting on Hurricane Dorian and other major Florida storms.
When a hurricane begins its development off the African coast, it immediately becomes the top story, potentially for weeks. First, it's prep stories, and once it gets close, we go into 24/7 coverage, with crews on 12- on-12-off shifts, strategically positioned up and down Florida's coast. We'll stay in the elements as long as it's safe. When the eye of the hurricane gets close, we take shelter like everyone else. Once it passes, we assess the mess and report on it. We also simulcast on the radio in case power goes out for viewers.
It's easily the most rewarding coverage we do. No matter their political views, people are thankful for us. Dorian dodged us, but not the Bahamas, which is only about 100 miles from us. So we have shifted our coverage there, and on all the people relocating to South Florida.
Based on trends you see in journalism, what should current students know about starting out on this career path?
In addition to TV, we also provide content for social media, the web and even Amazon Alexa. The one thing that carries all of it is writing. As soon as you think you're good at writing, write some more. News media is odd hours and starting out, the pay is low. But a good day telling stories is better than a good day doing almost anything else.
And don't give up. It took me seven months to land my first job at the ABC affiliate in Casper, Wyoming, one of the smallest TV markets in the country. I interviewed at four places and applied to over 100 (back when we sent DVDs, not just a YouTube link).
I've worked in San Antonio, Texas for the local NBC and Fox station, and now I am in West Palm Beach at the NBC and Fox station.
What do you think you've carried with you from your Stuart Hall days?
To be fearless. Go out and take risks and provide a voice to people that wouldn't otherwise have one. From the service projects to retreats, I came to understand that there are so many people out there who not only have a story to tell, but who need an advocate to be heard.
And compete. My freshman year was the first time we had a full school, freshmen through seniors. With baseball, we started out in a lower division. But we competed and won the championship. We exceeded expectations, moved up to a harder division and made it to the regional tournament every year I was there.
No one had heard of us when we played them. But you can bet they remember us now.