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What to watch: UGA quarantine edition

During times of uncertainty, we know one thing for sure: Dawgs always come out on top. We’ve compiled a list of 10 binge-worthy TV and movie options that feature some of our very own UGA grads to help you adjust to this ‘new normal.’

1. Power

Power

 

Image: IMDb

Power is an American crime drama television series starring former UGA football defensive back, Omari Hardwick (AB ’96). Hardwick plays James St. Patrick, a wealthy New York night club owner who lives a double life as a ruthless drug-dealer under the street name “Ghost.”

2. Batman

Batman

 

Image: IMDb

Kim Basinger (M ’75) plays Vicki Vale, a photojournalist and Batman’s love interest, in this 1989 superhero film. This was a breakout role for the actress. Did you know? Basinger donated to the UGA men’s tennis team to help the Dan Magill Tennis Complex get its lights in 1991.

3. The Walking Dead

Walking Dead

 

Image: IMDb

Don’t miss former UGA football player Hines Ward (BSFCS ’98) on The Walking Dead as a rotting zombie in the episode “The Suicide King.” After graduating from UGA, Ward went on to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers and later became a “Dancing with the Stars” champ.

4. Squidbillies

Squidbillies

 

Image: Wikipedia

Squibillies is an adult animated television series on Cartoon Network’s late-night programming block, Adult Swim. Before completing the degree he started in the early 1970s, Bobby Ellerbee (AB ’16) became the voice of the sheriff on Squidbillies and led a successful 40+ year career on many radio and broadcast shows.

5. Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

 

Image: IMDb

Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil tells the tale of Savannah’s eccentricities and the murder trial of a local millionaire. Frank “Sonny” Seiler (BBA ’56, JD ’57) was Jim Williams’ attorney in three of his final four trials (in real life). In the movie, based on a best-selling novel by John Berendt, Seiler was cast as the judge during the trial. But that’s not Seiler’s only claim to fame: he and his family have been raising UGA’s beloved bulldogs for decades.

6. Seinfeld

Seinfeld

 

Image: IMDb

Wayne Knight (AB ’72) plays Newman, the antagonist on the sitcom Seinfeld. Newman is a recurring character that never gets along with stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld. The show highlights the humor in life’s mundane situations. Also catch Knight in Jurassic Park, playing the fumbling Dennis Nedry.

7. Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights

 

Image: Hulu

Friday Night Lights is set in a small Texas town and follows the life of a high school football coach, his family and the players. The head football coach, Eric Taylor, is played by Kyle Chandler (M ’88). Chandler is also known for his role in the Netflix drama series Bloodline.

8. Friends

Friends

 

Image: IMDb

Friends is a classic top-rated television program in the U.S. that many know and love. The show follows the lives of six twenty-somethings living in Manhattan. James Michael Taylor (MFA ’89) plays the recurring role of Gunther, a coffee shop worker in love with lead character Rachel Green.

9. QB1: Beyond the Lights

QB1: Beyond the Lights

 

Image: IMDb

QB1: Beyond the Lights stars former UGA quarterback Jake Fromm (M ’21). The series follows the lives of three high school quarterbacks in their season before they begin playing in Division I college football.

10. Iron Chef America

Iron Chef America

 

Image: TV Guide

This show is hosted by Alton Brown (AB ’04) and showcases chefs from around the world in one-hour culinary battles against “Iron Chefs.” Brown also hosts Good Eats, in which he shares the new cooking techniques behind his latest creations.

3 Buzzworthy Bulldog 100 Businesses: Buckhead Beans, Rev Coffee Roasters, and Three Tree Coffee

Written by: Leigh Raynor Arndt

In Atlanta, Buckhead Beans is revitalizing office coffee. In Smyrna, Rev Coffee Roasters is bringing perfectly-roasted beans to the ’burbs. And in Statesboro, Three Tree Coffee Roasters is making a difference, one mug at a time. But what do these three game-changing coffee companies have in common?

They are all owned by Bulldogs. And they’re growing fast.

On Feb. 8, we’re celebrating Buckhead Beans, Rev Coffee Roasters, and Three Tree Coffee as 2020 Bulldog 100 businesses. Each year, Bulldog 100 recognizes the fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by University of Georgia alumni. Read on to learn more about the Bulldogs behind these exceptional companies.

(Spoiler: caffeine isn’t the only secret to their success.)

Buckhead Beans: Matt Ades (AB ’94, MED ’96) + Jeff Ramsey (BBA ’95)

What inspired UGA grads Matt Ades and Jeff Ramsey to start Buckhead Beans? Water cooler talk. In 2014, the college friends invested in an Atlanta-based vending company providing coffee to offices around the city. As they strategized how to revitalize the business, they asked around to see how people felt about the coffee at work. Across the board, the response was the same: yuck.

“Matt and I recognized a movement in Atlanta like craft beer, but with coffee,” said Jeff. “New cool shops were opening across the city. We knew there was good coffee here. But we also knew that a lot of businesses were stuck in the ’80s with subpar office coffee.”

So, Jeff and Matt decided to connect the dots. They started with one van and one local roaster. Today, Buckhead Beans has grown to 10 vans and partnerships with 10 roasters, including Counter Culture, Batdorf and Bronson, and Beanealogy. And one of their top roasters is fellow Bulldog-owned business Rev Coffee Roasters (more on them next!). Inspired by these coffee connoisseurs, Buckhead Beans is now perfecting its own roasting techniques.

Buckhead Beans has rid stale coffee from the breakrooms of more than 300 Atlanta businesses. And relationships that Jeff and Matt formed at UGA have proved vital to this expansion. Jeff shows his continued appreciation for his alma mater through a perfect attendance record. In 26 years, he’s yet to miss a Bulldog home game!

Rev Coffee Roasters: Jenn Holt Bimmerle (BA ’02)

As co-founders of Rev Coffee Roasters, alumna Jenn Holt Bimmerle and her husband, Nick, make the perfect team. Jenn likes a white mocha, while Nick drinks his coffee black. Together, they make sure that Rev is a place for every coffee drinker, where everyone gets what they want. And whether you are a purist or you like a dollop of whipped cream, your order will be bolstered by the best beans around.

Jenn and Nick opened Rev in 2008. From the start, their goal went beyond bringing a better cup of coffee to Smyrna. They wanted to embrace the suburbs by creating a cool, community space where neighbors could connect. It’s safe to say they’ve stolen some attention away from Atlanta. This is Rev’s fourth year as a Bulldog 100 business.

“Rev is like Cheers. A non-alcoholic Cheers,” said Jenn. “It’s just a happy place. Everyone is well-caffeinated. Everyone’s in a good mood. When you walk in, you feel comfortable. It feels like home.”

Looking for new ways to celebrate the people that make Smyrna unique, Jenn and her husband started Rev Fest in 2010. The festival brought together local artists, craftspeople, musicians, and coffee lovers for an all-day party. The first Rev Fest was so successful that it is now a bi-annual event.

“A big part of our success is that customers became friends, who then became family,” said Jenn. “When I think of that, I always feel like we’ve done something right.”

Three Tree Coffee Roasters: Philip Klayman (BSA ’11)

As an agricultural economics major at UGA, Philip Klayman not only gained the knowledge he needed to start his own company, but he also found his partner. Philip met his wife, Anna (AB ’11), in Athens. Today, they own Three Tree Coffee Roasters in Anna’s hometown of Statesboro.

The Klaymans’ entrepreneurial drive started with their love of coffee. Devoted drinkers, they began by roasting beans in their backyard. Their hobby grew, and they were soon selling at farmer’s markets. But the Klaymans enjoyed coffee for more than its taste and aroma. They appreciate the community it inspires. Eager to share their passion with others, they opened Three Tree Coffee in 2014.

“Walls come down in coffee shops,” said Philip. “There are not many cultures like coffee culture. It brings diverse people together. Barriers come down, and we recognize our similarities.”

Three Tree’s mission goes beyond serving delicious coffee (like a pour-over made with beans from Limmu, Ethiopia, Philip’s current go-to). The Klaymans are dedicated to using their coffee as a “catalyst for change.” To empower farmers, they only use certified Fair-Trade USA beans and teas. And the shop raises funds for organizations fighting to end human trafficking.

Furthermore, Philip is determined to extend the close-knit community that Three Tree has formed in Statesboro around the globe. By establishing direct partnerships in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Ethiopia, he guarantees that Three Tree only serves coffee and tea from farms that are paid fair wages and use sustainable methods.

“I like to meet with our farmers face to face,” said Philip. “It allows me to develop a better understanding of their challenges so that I can be a solution.”

Check out the full 2020 Bulldog 100 list to learn about more alumni-owned businesses and ways to support fellow Bulldogs.

2020 Bulldog 100 Spotlight: A Network of Loyal Bulldogs

Written by: Maggie Griffin of Maggie Griffin Designs

I grew up in the small, tight-knit community of Hawkinsville, Georgia. The kind of welcoming small-town where you know everyone, and where you’re related to half the county. And the neighboring county too! When I began my freshman year at the University of Georgia in 2002, I was so comforted to see some of those familiar faces from our small town, right there on the big campus of the University of Georgia.

This past fall, when the Bulldog 100 list was announced, I was proud to again see several of those names sharing the honor with me. Hardy’s Peanuts is interwoven into my life, as we grew up on neighboring farms where Ken Hardy (BSA ’93) and Brad Hardy (BSA ’96), along with their family, now run their family farm. I sure wish our grandparents were here to celebrate this achievement with us; they would be so proud! Robert Moore (BSAE ’04), of Moore Civil, is a childhood friend from home, and his wife, Courtney, and I have been great friends since we were kids. He and his brother, Michael Azzolin (PHARMD ’02) (also from Hawkinsville), of PharmD on Demand, get to share this honor together this year, too. It’s been a joy to be included on this list alongside hometown friends and to share that same entrepreneurial spirit with them that we’ve inherited from generations before us.

My husband, David, and I now call Gainesville, Georgia, “home.” We’ve loved getting to know the amazing people who also call this charming “big” small-town “home,” and we are proud to be raising our two boys here as well. The close proximity to Athens is one of our favorite things about the city. Gainesville has been great in supporting my small business and David’s too.

The city has a fantastic community of women business owners, and I am thrilled to see two of my friends on this year’s Bulldog 100 list. Amanda Wilbanks (BBA ’09), of Southern Baked Pie Company, fed me pie in her home kitchen while I was pregnant with my oldest child (who is now almost 7!), before opening her first shop. I am proud of her incredible vision and I sure do love her pies too! Katie Dubnik (BBA ’03), another fellow female business owner and entrepreneur in Gainesville, shares the list with Amanda and me. Her extraordinary business brings invaluable marketing strategies to companies across the Southeast, and she manages a smart, energetic group of creatives at her company, Forum Communications.

I will be forever indebted to the University of Georgia for my education and for the opportunities that this wonderful university has afforded to me and to my family. The network of loyal Bulldogs never ceases to amaze me, and I am so proud to be among this incredible group this year.

An interview with Sally Williamson (ABJ ’83)

Sally Williamson

Sally Williamson, Founder and CEO of Sally Williamson & Associates

Sally Williamson (ABJ ’83) has made a name for herself in the communication business.

With 30 years of experience to her name, Sally is the founder and president of the Atlanta-based Sally Williamson & Associates. Focusing on the spoken side of communication, the company is approaching 20 years of executive coaching, consulting, workshops and more to create effective workplace communicators.

The company has published three books that detail her practices’ beliefs: The Hidden Factor: Executive Presence, Leading Executive Conversations, and Storylines and Storytelling: What They Remember and Repeat.  The group has also started a podcast that features female leaders across the business world, with stories from executives at companies like Delta and TD Bank.

Alumni Association: How would you describe your business to someone who is unfamiliar with it?

Sally Williamson: We’re a communication consulting group that helps people influence and impact others through effective communication practices.

AA: How did you get into consulting like this?

SW: I was a journalism school graduate. I was intrigued by messaging in business and thought that I would start out on a public relations track. Instead, I got closer to the communicators and learned the foundational skills of personal delivery and presence.  That’s oversimplifying it, but eventually I brought the two concepts together in executive coaching.

AA: What inspired you to create your own business?

SW: I worked in the training field and saw both the strengths and limitations of a set curriculum.  I was always more intrigued by how people used skills once they left a training program versus how well they did in a workshop. And, I learned that most training formats were weak on the application of skills. I saw an opportunity to blend training with coaching and ensure that skills are applicable in any business setting.

And, that’s what my firm is known for: the customization of training, the added coaching elements and the expertise to understand and solve for the expectations of listeners.

AA: What inspired the start of your podcast?

Sally Williamson

What’s Your Story with Sally Williamson is a podcast that centers on leadership and storytelling.

SW: Two years ago, we released our third book which is called “Storylines and Storytelling: What They Remember and Repeat.” For two years, I did research on how stories are used in business and the skills of a good storyteller. I coined the phrase “the master storyteller” and developed the tools to help anyone become one.

The podcast was a natural outgrowth of that. It’s called “What’s Your Story,” and people who come on the podcast talk about stories in business and how they use stories to make points memorable and repeatable.

AA: Any favorite episodes?

SW: All of them! Don’t want to play favorites. What I love about it is that when we send people an outline for the podcast, they think they’re going to talk about their stories in their business and how they’ve leveraged storytelling to motivate a team, promote a product or position a brand. Ultimately, they reveal themselves as storytellers. And, that’s fun to explore. We’re asking leaders to talk about stories, but they actually illustrate their skills as storyteller.

AA: How do you think your time at UGA impacted your career?

SW: I’m sure my early days relied on technical skills to learn writing disciplines and headlines. But the more long-term impact has been the connection back to the school as a professional. I’ve enjoyed being a part of the Bulldog 100 program for small businesses, and love the opportunities to go back on campus to support programs around professional development.

AA: What advice would you give to a student looking for their first job in the communications field?

SW: Make sure that what you tackle first is experience more than stature. Don’t worry so much about the prestige of the brand you go to work for, or the starting title or role they give you. Put yourself in a position where you can get as much experience as you can and a frontline view of what is really happening around you. It’s the experience you get in the first job that gets you to the second or the third one. I think that’s especially true in public relations and communications – if you can show that you’ve done the work, rather than just been around the work, it makes a huge difference in what you have an opportunity to do next. People in public relations and communications get hired based on experience. What have you done? What do you know how to do?

AA: What are you most proud of, or what has your greatest success been?

SW: There have been many just as there have been many challenges. Success to me is based on how the business has evolved. We’ve been able to take what started as my thoughts and beliefs and grow it into a shared set of tools and skills that a team leverages. I’m proud of that, and that SW&A has become a place where others have developed an expertise and deliver great work. In the last three years, my son has joined the business and that suggests that our product and our work will outlive me.

Q&A with Trey Jarrard (AB ’93)

6/29/20: Renewvia continues to grow its work in Africa. Find out more on the company’s plans to expand in Kenya, Nigeria and all of Africa.

Trey Jarrard (AB ’93) is the CEO of Renewvia Energy. He founded Renewvia Energy in 2008 to develop solar power systems in financeable favorable regions across the United States. Under his leadership, the company expanded internationally in 2013 to develop utility-scale solar in Uruguay and then, hybrid and standalone solar photovoltaic and battery-powered microgrids in the Marianas Islands in 2016, Kenya in 2018 and Nigeria in 2019. Today, Renewvia operates under an expanded mission not only to add value to its U.S. clients, but also to improve the quality of life for people who live in power challenged areas while providing above market returns for investors.

Trey came to Athens recently to speak to several classes and tour campus. We asked him a few questions to find out more about what he does, his company and how his time at UGA shaped his professional path.

What made you want to start your own business? And why this particular business?

Opportunistic timing with target market. Specifically the activation of substantial commercial tax benefit for renewables in the US led me into the solar sector.

How did your time at the University of Georgia impact your professional and personal path?

Peer connections made at UGA directly introduced a unique track that would otherwise not have manifested in any form. One specific UGA connection changed my professional path completely from one sector over a short period of time that resulted in me identifying the current opportunity I am pursuing.

What is your favorite part of campus to revisit? What brings you back or keeps you connected to UGA?

The campus has grown so substantially over the last 25 years, some areas are difficult to recognize but old campus remains my favorite.

What are you most proud of professionally?

Being part of the initial funding of a large publicly traded company and starting an international company.

Many governments, non-profits, and individuals are working to create a more sustainable society and a more sustainable economy. Where do you see Renewvia fitting in to these efforts? What role can your work play in building a better future?

Renewvia is directly contributing to multiple governments in sub-Saharan to help solve poverty through provision of affordable and reliable sustainable power. Every solar microgrid Renewvia builds in Africa directly replaces a form of fossil fuel, disposable batteries or solid fuel, thus avoiding and reducing carbon emissions. Providing power in these communities directly impacts health, productivity, safety and gender equality. Improvements in each of these areas provides the people of these communities a critical element for improving quality of life in multiple forms.

If you could give one piece of advice to students, what would it be?

Meet as many people as you can, get to know them, learn from them and stay in touch.

Jack

John “Jack” C. Sawyer (BBA ’78): An (Irish) Bulldog

John “Jack” C. Sawyer is a Georgia Bulldog who finds himself in an interesting situation this week: his alma maters will battle it out between the hedges on Saturday in one of the most highly anticipated games of the college football season.

On Becoming a Georgia Bulldog

Jack’s father was a U.S. Marine Corps officer, so his family moved a few times, eventually settling in Lilburn, Georgia. In high school, Jack learned that UGA had a fantastic accounting program, which combined with the more affordable in-state tuition rates, sold him on becoming a Georgia Bulldog.

FUN FACT: The J. M. Tull School of Accounting in UGA’s Terry College of Business is ranked No. 13 (8th among public schools) by U.S. News & World Report.

At UGA, the accounting major had countless great memories as an undergraduate. He especially cherished his time with his hall-mates in Russell Hall 6 West, noting that they were “a great bunch of men, both then and now.”

FUN FACT: Russell Hall was rededicated in 2018 after a 15-month renovation and has earned multiple awards including the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s “Excellence in Sustainable Preservation.”

His Path Since UGA

Jack graduated with his Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting in 1978. He visited the University of Notre Dame Law School and knew that’s where he wanted to spend the next three years.

FUN FACT: The University of Notre Dame Law School, founded in 1869, is the oldest Roman Catholic law school in the United States.

He was newly married when he began his law school journey, so he notes that his lifestyle was much different from his undergraduate years in Athens. He also was shocked in November when South Bend received eight inches of snow one evening … and classes weren’t canceled the next day!

After graduating from Notre Dame, Jack followed in his father’s footsteps by joining the U.S. Marine Corps, serving as a judge advocate for nearly five years. The Judge Advocate Division operates like a large law firm and includes more than 400 judge advocates and a comparable support staff. Judge advocates often serve as prosecutors or the defense counsel in military courts-martial and they advise Marines on legal issues.

After that, he returned to the Atlanta area and began private practice with a smaller law firm before joining Alston & Bird, where he worked for approximately 27 years. Two years ago, he left Alston & Bird and joined Taylor English Duma, LLP.

FUN FACT: The University of Georgia School of Law boasts a global network of 10,500+ living alumni who work in all 50 states and approximately 70 countries.

 What He Does Now

Jack resides in Gainesville, Georgia, with his wife, Debbie. In his role at Taylor English Duma, Jack serves his clients in a variety of ways, most frequently relating to taxes. His practice includes estate planning and administration, asset protection planning, tax-exempt organizations, conservation easements, and tax and fiduciary litigation/alternate dispute resolution.

FUN FACT: The Sawyers live on land that has been in Debbie’s family for approximately 100 years.

Jack has spoken at UGA-sponsored conferences, assisted with fundraising efforts, and, of course, has attended home football games. As a graduate of both UGA and Notre Dame, he says that both alumni bases are extremely passionate about their schools and their teams, which probably means that we can expect to see a few Fighting Irish in Athens this weekend. He appreciates the top-notch education he received at both schools, and the great time he enjoyed on each campus. He’s especially appreciative of the more affordable education he received at UGA since it made it financially possible for him to attend law school later. He added, “I believe the UGA value proposition is even greater today.”

Jack

Jack enjoys spending time with his family.

His Call for Saturday’s Game

“I believe the Dawgs at home will be too much for the Irish to handle.”

FUN FACT: We (no surprise) agree with Jack. Go Dawgs!

Q&A With Aaron Luque (MBA ’16)

Aaron Luque (MBA ’16) is the CEO of EnviroSpark Energy Solutions, a company that specializes in the design and installation of electric vehicle charging station solutions. EnviroSpark was honored as a 2019 Bulldog 100 company, and Aaron is visiting campus this week to speak to entrepreneurship and sustainability classes, field questions from students and share his experience in both areas. We spoke with Aaron to learn a little bit more about him, his work, his UGA experience and how those three things intersect.

What made you want to start your own business? And why this particular business?

My work experience had previously always been in what would be considered a “big corporate” environment, complete with inefficiencies and red tape that would make it very difficult for me to best serve my clients. At the end of the day, I just wanted the freedom to be flexible and creative, and “best-fit” solutions for my clients. I wanted to recognize the uniqueness of each and every client and prospect, let them know they were special, and provide services with their needs in mind.

As cheesy as it sounds, I really did choose the sustainability sector out of an innate desire to leave the world a better place for future generations of humans and for life in general. Selling something you believe in is extremely fulfilling and comes easily and naturally, whereas selling something in which you don’t believe is difficult and unsatisfying.

You earned your MBA from UGA in 2016. Why did you choose to pursue that degree, and what impact has it had on your professional path?

Both of my companies had grown to a point where I needed to be thinking about business strategy and finance on deeper levels, and as a result I chose to enroll in the Executive MBA program. As an entrepreneur for the last 12 years, with no aspirations of working for anyone else anytime soon, the program has probably benefited me in different ways than it would for, say, someone who was simply looking to move up the corporate ladder. On a personal level, I’d have to say I personally got the most value from the finance and economic-related portions of the program, and the knowledge gained in those areas has significantly enhanced my ability to run my businesses.

What are you most proud of professionally?

The knowledge that my efforts and those of the teams I have built are having a major impact on the adoption rate and transition towards electric vehicles. EnviroSpark, a company self-funded and organically-grown, is directly responsible for the design and installation of over 10,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the United States and Canada. I cannot count the number of times one of my clients has called me up and told me they couldn’t believe how many people went out and purchased electric cars after we completed an installation at their office, hotel, apartment, condo, convenience store, etc. Knowing that we reached out to these locations, educated them about electric vehicles, designed a charging solution for them, implemented that solution, and then seeing the end result of increased electric vehicle ownership is extremely rewarding.

You’ve said that you’re passionate about sustainability. What do you see as your role—personally, professionally, or both—in creating a more sustainable society?

When I was first considering getting into the electric vehicle space I was thinking to myself “electric vehicles are amazing, why do more people not drive them?” After some research, it became very apparent there were two main reasons for this:

  1. Awareness – People simply didn’t know all the benefits of owning an electric car (I could go on for days on this topic).
  2. Range Anxiety – People were scared they would get stuck somewhere due to a lack of infrastructure (and rightfully so).

With that in mind l founded EnviroSpark with two primary goals:

  1. Learn as much as possible about all of the benefits of electric vehicle ownership and share this with as many people as possible
  2. Design and construct as many charging sites as possible. My hope was that every time someone saw one of our charging stations, they would be a little more comfortable with the idea of switching to an electric car.

If you could give one piece of advice to students, what would it be?

Whatever you do for a living, make sure it’s something you’re passionate about. Work is too much time of your life to be spent doing something you don’t love, and I’d venture to say it’s impossible for your overall quality of life not to be directly influenced by the level of satisfaction you have for your career.

 

Inside the life of Will Carr (ABJ ’06), an ABC news correspondent

Each year, UGA’s 40 Under 40 program recognizes 40 young alumni who are leaders and change-makers. We spoke with one of this year’s 40 Under 40 honorees, ABC News Correspondent Will Carr (ABJ ’06), to get a look into the high-speed life of a national broadcast journalist.

What has been your career path since graduating from UGA?

I was in Grady’s Newsource 15, and through that program landed my first on-air job in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I was there for about 2.5 years, and then secured a job in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I broke a couple stories at the border, and amazingly, ABC reached out to me. At the same time, FOX News reached out to me as well. In 2012 or 2013, FOX offered me a job as a national correspondent, where I could travel to cover big news stories, so I joined FOX News in their Los Angeles bureau for five years.

At that time, ABC came back on me and said, “we’ve been following your career, we love what you’ve been doing, we’d like to fly you to New York.” Since that’s the place that I’ve always wanted to work, it was like a dream come true. It didn’t happen exactly right when I wanted it to, but ultimately things played out the way they needed to. FOX gave me a lot of experience with national stories that helped me hit the ground running when I got the job at ABC.

When did you realize you wanted to go into news?

During my freshman year at Georgia, I walked on the football team. This was not a big deal because I was basically a tackling dummy. When I realized that my football career had fizzled out, I decided to go into the broadcasting program. I wanted to be an athlete, but I felt like if I can’t keep playing, then I’d like to at least cover sports. 

Newsource 15 forced us to rotate in the position every day. Through that experience, I fell in love with hard news, not even meaning to. From there, sports became sort of entertainment for me and I pursued hard news as my passion professionally.

When asked about your “typical day,” how do you respond?

My day is the antithesis of a nine-to-five. I have four cell phones: my personal phone, two work phones with two different providers in case I don’t have service for one. I also have a satellite phone that I carry with me at all times. Basically, I’m on call 24/7, even if I’m on vacation. 

It’s just the nature of the job. Sometimes you cancel vacations, you work weekends, you work holidays. When the news calls, you go. But there is downtime where you can chill at home, catch up on errands, exercise or knock out anything you need to do when you’re not physically in the city you live. It’s not boring!

What is the most important story you’ve ever covered?

I’ve covered so many, I don’t know that I can name the “most important.” A recent story that jumps out was last year, one one of the more crazy days of my career. I got woken up at 1 a.m. in Los Angeles, and was told, “There’s been a mass shooting at Thousand Oaks,” which is a Los Angeles suburb. We went to the shooting location and worked for eight hours, and then I was called and told, “A massive fire has broken out up north in California.”

So we jumped on a plane and flew to Sacramento, and then drove two hours to Paradise, California. When we arrived, the entire town was burning. It was the most swift-moving wildfire I’d ever seen, and we saw neighborhood after neighborhood just burn to the ground while we were there. 

We ended up staying in Paradise for a week and a half. It is probably the worst devastation I’ve ever seen; the entire city was wiped off the map. It was really something to see and experience. 

How do you stay prepared to travel and break a story?

I have three or four bags packed at all times. I have a large bag that would be checked if I’m covering an international-type story that would keep me on the road for a week or two. You want to take as much as possible since you don’t know exactly what you’re getting into on the ground or what you’ll be up against. 

Other than that, I have a carry-on bag that I keep ready at all times, and also a wildfire bag. That bag contains the gear that you would see firefighters wearing, since basically we are in the fire just like the firefighters. I actually train with them so that we can do our job safely. I have a bag full of miscellaneous items that I can just sort of pick and choose from depending on the situation I’m going into. 

I have three younger sisters, all of whom went to UGA. When I pick them up from the airport, I can never put their bags in my trunk because it’s always full. They’re always frustrated by that, but I think they understand the gig. 

What advice would you give to students who are interested in becoming a news correspondent?

It’s really important to make sure you feel like the news is in your DNA. Of the people that I stay in touch with, a lot have ended up changing professions and/or going into public relations. A lot of people wanted to go into news, but then they realized the grind of it.

I also feel like a lot of people have a passion for the news, but are talked out of going into it because they’re told “you’re not gonna make any money, you’re gonna have to work holidays, weekends, you’re not gonna have a life.” I don’t really feel like that’s fair. People just need to have their eyes wide open about what they’re getting into and ensure that it’s something they’re really passionate about. Because trust me: you don’t want to work weekends, holidays and 20-hour shifts in the worst elements if you don’t really love what you’re doing. 

What were you involved in as a student at UGA?

I think a lot of kids in college have an idea of what they want to do because they’ve been pointed in a certain direction or learned something about themselves along the way that they wanted to do. I needed a major. I knew I needed to do something, and getting into Newsource ignited that passion. That program and the professors I had equipped me with the tools to enter this profession and hit the ground running.

Coming out of Newsource, I felt like I had a jet-pack propulsion device on my back that helped me take off from the beginning It gave me so many amazing tools. We were doing newscasts across Athens, so transitioning into local news wasn’t difficult. 

 

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Which UGA professors influenced you most?

Michael Castengera and Steve Smith, who taught Newsource 15, were like a ying and yang. I felt like they were family, and I’ve stayed in touch with them. They not only had an impact on me while I was at Georgia; they had an impact on me throughout my career. I find it to be rare to stay in touch with two of your college professors so intimately, and I think that’s the beauty of the program at UGA. 

They’ve retired, but the journalism school is run by some top-notch people. Dean Davis is amazing, Parker Middleton in great, Dodie Cantrell does a great job. So I know that even though my mentors have retired, the journalism school is in very good hands. 

What is the most important experience you had as a UGA student?

It was my first day of Newsource, and as I mentioned, I really wanted to cover sports. I talked Castengera into letting me be the sports anchor. Apparently one of the reporters didn’t show up or called in sick, and he said “Well, you know, you can’t do sports. You have to be a reporter.” There was a story about a student living in a house with guys who had overdosed on heroin. One of the professors said, “we want you to go down to the zoning director for the city and ask him how often they enforce the single family housing ordinance where you have to be related to live in a house.”

We sat outside his office for an hour or two, and finally he came out. We went into his office and I pulled out my notepad. I asked the first question. The zoning director had three note cards on his desk. He looked at the first note card and read verbatim off that note card. It had absolutely nothing to do with what I asked him. 

I clerked for my dad, who was an attorney, and so I was in trials a lot. I saw my dad react to people when he felt they were not being truthful on the stand, and I felt a similar feeling in this moment. When I asked him the second question, he went to the second note card and the same thing: nothing to do with what I asked him. I had no idea what I was doing except I felt like this guy was lying to me. I couldn’t figure out why, so I said something to the effect of, “are you going to keep reading off these note cards or are you gonna actually answer any questions?”

He jumped out of his seat, grabbed me by the collar, and dragged me out of the room. He said, “this is over,” and slammed the door. So we went to the professor and I said, “Sorry, I still can’t do the story, I didn’t get any information from him.” My professor said, “No, this is the story.”

We ended up reporting what happened, and the local paper ended up doing an expose on the zoning director. A week or two later, one of the reporters for the newspaper said, “Hey, we saw your story. We’re digging into this guy and he hasn’t been enforcing a lot of things he’s supposed to have been enforcing. Really great job of digging that up.” That was the moment for me where sports became more fun and entertainment, and I fell in love with hard news. 

Do you have any other favorite UGA memories?

I always think about the memories with my close friends, some of whom were in the journalism school, some who weren’t. I’ve stayed in close contact with a lot of them over the years. In college, there were four of us who watched the HBO show called “Entourage,” and we felt like we were our own entourage.

It’s been amazing over the years to see what they’ve done, and several now have families and kids. It’s really cool to have developed strong friendships with people and feel like they were fortified over the years coming out of Georgia. They really have developed into lifelong friendships. 

Finish this statement. I am most proud to be a Bulldawg when ______.

I’m the most proud to be a Bulldog when I see other Bulldogs succeed.

Throughout the years, I’ve had members of the UGA community reach out to me, especially within journalism, and I try to help as much as possible. When you see people from Georgia do well professionally and personally, I love that. I get excited about Georgia because it had such an impact on me. I know it’s had a similar impact on others.

It’s ironic actually: I’m sitting on a patio in Wyoming and there’s a house two doors down with a Bulldog flag outside. I haven’t seen the homeowners yet, but I’m waiting for them to come out so I can give them a big “Go Dawgs.” When you move further and further away, you don’t run into people who went to Georgia very often. So it’s a special moment, like a nice bond. You see each other and want to hug.

Delia Owens Where the Crawdads Sing Book Cover

Check out “Where the Crawdads Sing” on National Book Day

For many of us, reading is a pleasure, but one too often forfeited for a Netflix binge or Instagram scroll. But September 6 is National Read a Book Day: a reminder to pour a cup of coffee and settle into your favorite reading nook.

When I fall out of the habit, the fastest way to reestablish my reading routine is a good book. A page-turning, can’t-put-down, just-one-more-chapter book. I found one. This novel comes with a bonus: it’s written by fellow Georgia Bulldog and best-selling New York Times author, Delia Owens (BS ’71).

Owens’s debut novel, Where the Crawdads Sing, is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising account of a murder investigation.

I fell in love with the main character, Kya Clark. As Owens puts it: “Kya is every-little-girl and one in a million.” She inspired both pity and awe and forced me to question my own survival instincts. Kya’s deep love of the natural world sets her apart from typical fictional characters and urges readers to appreciate the nature that surrounds them. As one line of the story reads, “… Kya laid her hand upon the breathing, wet earth, and the marsh became her mother.” Her journey to fulfill basic human needs, like companionship, pulls the reader along and satisfies through the end.

I finished the book on a flight. My airplane neighbor caught me wiping away tears. My failed discretion got more embarrassing when the tears (good tears!) kept free-flowing, yet I remained buckled into a middle seat. I told him the truth—that the book was really good—but also avoided eye contact until we parted ways at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The Reviews

Do yourself a favor: read this book. If my recommendation isn’t enough, please see below for critics’ reviews.

New York Times Book Review Quote“The wildlife scientist Delia Owens has found her voice in Where the Crawdads Sing, a painfully beautiful first novel that is at once a murder mystery, a coming-of-age narrative and a celebration of nature…”
—New York Times Book Review

“Fierce and hauntingly beautiful … An astonishing debut.”
—People Magazine

“Reminiscent of Barbara Kingsolver, this Southern-set period novel unfurls a whodunit against a typical coming-of-age tale, when a mysterious “Marsh Girl” becomes the primary suspect of a grisly crime.”
—Entertainment Weekly

An Evening with Delia Owens (in Athens!)

On Friday, September 20, join alumni and friends for an evening with Delia Owens in the UGA Special Collections Libraries on campus. The auditorium in which Delia will speak is sold out, but an overflow room down the hall will live-stream her remarks. All attendees will have the opportunity to meet the author and have a copy of “Where the Crawdads Sing” signed ($25/person). The talk and Q&A will take place from 4-5 p.m. and the reception and book signing will be from 5-7 p.m.

More Bulldog Authors

Once you’re back in the habit of reading, check out these Georgia Bulldog authors to find your next book:

  • Stuart Woods (AB ’60) has won the Edgar Allan Poe prize from the Mystery Writers of America and had more than fifty best-sellers, including the successful Stone Barrington series.
  • Mary Kay Andrews (ABJ ’76) is another New York Times best-selling author of 24 novels including “The Weekenders,” “Beach Town,” “Ladies’ Night” and “Summer Rental.”
  • Malcolm Mitchell (AB ’15) is not only a former UGA football player and Super Bowl champion, but also a successful author whose foundation helps children discover a love of reading.
  • Michael Bishop (AB ’67, MA ’68) is in the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame and has written more than 30 books, including “The Quickening” and “No Enemy But Time.”

Chip Caray: Family Ties

This story was written by Eric Rangus and was originally posted to UGA Today on August 30, 2018. We’re sharing it today in recognition of National Radio Day.

If you are a baseball play-by-play guy and your last name is Caray, it can be a lot to live up to. Preceded in the booth by his legendary grandfather Harry and father, Skip, Chip Caray learned long ago how to navigate the complications of his name.

In 1997, after seven years as the voice of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, Caray was hired to work alongside Harry, the much-beloved Hall-of-Fame voice of the Cubs. Caray was excited about the role for many reasons, not the least of which was the opportunity to close a familial loop with his famous grandfather, whom he did not know well.

Sadly, the pairing wasn’t meant to be as Harry died just before Spring Training in 1998. That meant Chip, who had a decent amount of experience (albeit in basketball, not baseball), was stepping into the shoes of a man who was arguably the most famous person who’d ever done the job, in a new city with an unfamiliar (and passionate) fan base, almost cold.

“My first game, I’m sitting behind Harry’s desk, with his microphone, his producer, his director, his partner, his fan base, and his last name trying to make my own name for myself in a business that’s very personality driven. That was hard. Really hard,” Caray says with understatement. “My dad said later, ‘You know, in hindsight, there were only two people in the world who could have done that job: you or me. And you did a helluva job.’”

Chip Caray recalling May 13, 1991, the day he, Harry, and Skip broadcast a Cubs-Braves game together, becoming the first (and only) three-generation booth in MLB history: “It was the first time Harry, who was an orphan, understood that there was a living, breathing lineage here. I look at the pictures now and think about how meaningful that had to have been for my grandfather.”

That acknowledgment from his father has long meant a great deal to Caray. The familial loop he was unable to close with his grandfather was made whole after Chip moved to Atlanta in 2004 to broadcast Braves games with his dad, with whom he remained close until Skip died in 2008. Since that time, Chip has made the Braves job his own.

The way he’s done it also doubles as advice he’d give to any young broadcasters just starting out: Be yourself.

“There are so many people who want to sound like Vin Scully or Gary Thorne or Skip Caray that their soul and personality gets ripped out of the broadcast,” he says.

“I sound like me, warts and all. Have the confidence to put yourself out there in a medium where you being you is going to generate a lot of love and sometimes a lot of not-so love. Have the strength and character to be able to withstand that.”

Caray, fortunately, doesn’t have to withstand it alone. Since Scully’s retirement in 2016, every MLB booth contains at least two people. For FOX Sports South, Caray’s partner for the last 10 years has been former major league outfielder Joe Simpson. Over that time, Caray’s energetic delivery has blended nicely with Simpson’s been-there-done-that straightforwardness to create an easy chemistry that wasn’t necessarily easy at the start.

“Chemistry is different with different people,” Caray says. “I’m hyper. I’m fired up every day. I got that from my grandfather. Joe is more like my dad. ‘OK, this is exciting, but calm down, son.’ Our relationship has evolved the last couple years and it’s turned into a tremendous partnership.”