Ludington’s Olympics connection

July 3, 2012

When the 2012 Summer Olympics start at the end of July, a touch of Ludington will be seen on the NBC television coverage of the events.

Kaitlin Urka, a 2005 graduate of Ludington High School, works as a production assistant for NBC Sports and has spent the last year preparing for the Olympics.

“I assist the editors and producers in creating the profiles that will air during the Olympic Games,” Kaitlin told me in a recent online conversation. “I help research, organize and process footage, log material and even assist in some minor aspects of editing. It’s my job to know our Olympic library and the key athletes that will be participating in the London games inside and out.”

Kaitlin received a Bachelor’s of Arts degree, majoring in communications studies, from the University of Michigan in 2009. She then worked two years for WZZM-TV, channel 13, in Grand Rapids.

Her work at WZZM gave her a variety of opportunities including being in front of the camera.

“I wanted to be an on-air talent and follow in the footsteps of other great female sports personalities like Erin Andrews, Mary Carillo and fellow Michigan alumna Dana Jacobson. What I learned once here at NBC is that I don’t have to be in front of the camera to love what I do. At the network level, sometimes the best jobs are the ones that don’t come with a spotlight.”

Kaitlin said her job doesn’t really feel like work.

“I love going to work every day. No two days are ever the same. I am an avid fan of athletics, so being able to work in a sports environment is exhilarating. I am blessed with the opportunity to meet some of the best athletes the world has to offer and follow their journey from unknown to overnight celebrity.

“I also love that I learn something new every day. I am blessed to be working alongside some of the industry’s best talent. They are Emmy Award-winning producers, editors, writers, researchers and engineers. I feel like a sponge trying to soak up as much of their knowledge as possible.”

Kaitlin is the daughter of Tom and Heidi Urka and the granddaughter of Robert and Dorothy Urka and Russ and Janet Miller.

Growing up in Mason County, she was not aware of all the opportunities that were available in a media career.

Her advise to anyone wanting to get into the media: “Be as versatile as possible. Don’t pigeon hole yourself with just one skill set. Nowadays you have to be able to do it all, and do it all well. Shadow as many people in as many different facets of production as you can. Internships and extracurricular activities are where I learned the vast majority of my skill set while in college, not in the classroom.

“My time at Michigan taught me how to learn and how to adapt and thrive in an ever-changing environment. My time job shadowing and interning taught me the skills necessary to succeed in the industry.

“The biggest piece of advise I have though is not to get into this business you want to be rich someday. You don’t work in the media for the money. You work in media because you love story telling. You work in the media because you love a challenge, you love experiencing new things, and you love sharing those experiences with others. I may work long days but I am always telling my friends and family that I feel like I’m hardly working because I do what I love and I love what I do.”

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