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Alumni Stories: Brett Haber '91

Putting Your Passions to Good Use by Lisa Birzen '03

"Twenty-two is too young to not pursue your passion," Brett Haber asserts. At age 34, he is still living out his dream.

Brett Haber, a native New Yorker, graduated cum laude from Dartmouth in 1991 with an English degree and has been pursuing and enhancing his journalism career ever since.

Haber caught the journalistic bug early on in life and, in fact, has laughingly said, "I started at the networks and worked backwards from there."

While attending Hunter College High School in Manhattan, Haber was selected for Main Street, a children's Dateline-type show hosted by Bryant Gumbel, when crews came through the school, "looking for kids who could put coherent sentences together."

This positive experience interacting with professionals in the field led to a senior year internship on The Today Show and a lifelong devotion to journalism that still fiercely burns today.

Experiencing a "good vibe" on a campus visit and seeking a "polar opposite" from NYC, Haber chose to enroll at Dartmouth. Arriving on campus, he more or less knew of his future career goals and tried to plan his studies and time accordingly.

He "knew that any major wasn't particularly relevant to this career path," but sensed that "being a better writer would serve [him] well in any field," thus deciding on an English major.

Looking back, Haber has said that academically speaking, he feels that Dartmouth did not prepare him well for his career: In a professional sense, I wasn't as fully prepared as I could have been.

Experience-wise, however, he says: Dartmouth exceeded my expectations - from the setting to the size to the camaraderie. "I loved Dartmouth. I live for the place," he fondly reminisces.

Despite perhaps not being the perfect nurturing ground for a budding journalist, the Dartmouth environment, nonetheless, offered Haber several stepping-stones on the way to his early success.

Approaching the local NBC affiliate, channel WNNE in White River Junction, VT his freshman fall with guts and determination, Haber offered his services and landed a floor managerial position at the station.

One of his coworkers, sports anchor J.J. Cioffi, would prove instrumental to Haber's career and become a life-long friend.

After coaching Haber and advising him on his style and technique, Cioffi relocated to CBS affiliate, WCAX in Burlington, VT and offered a sophomore Haber a chance to take over his former position at WNNE.

Despite an unpleasant audition, Haber got the interim anchor job and embarked on a three month long juggling fiasco: trying to balance a 50-60 hour work week with his academic responsibilities during sophomore summer.

The duties certainly affected his schoolwork but when the station offered Haber a permanent position, his father sternly said: You are not becoming a sportscaster. You are first finishing school.

After the summer, with the hiring of a permanent anchor, Haber returned to a 10 hour work week, much to the benefit of his academic performance, filling in and covering his own stories, whenever necessary.

Even at that young age, Haber strove to set himself apart from the "run of the mill TV sportscaster." "Writing sports is really easy to do poorly," Haber says. He applied his "creative and sometimes sardonic style to TV writing to be different."

As a result, Haber sure did establish himself as a sportscaster and people quickly took notice.

As a senior, Haber, like many students, got sucked into the corporate recruiting process because "all of [his] friends were going through it." Initially attracted by the competitiveness and the money, he soon lost interest when he realized that he was going through the motions for the wrong reasons - or perhaps when he tired from walking from the River Cluster decked out in boots and a suit.

Haber offers this advice to current students: Don't get caught up in the frenzy to make quick buck your first year out of college. The success and compensation come later.

"Your passion will cause you to put in more effort and ultimately be successful and reap in financial rewards."

Following his own advice, Haber found himself unemployed as he crossed the stage at his graduation.

He had proven himself as a competent, reliable sportscaster and a phone call a month later helped to solidify Haber's future plans.

Cioffi called to offer Haber a job at WCAX, which, needless to say, the recent grad gladly accepted.

A year and a half later he relocated to WCPO-TV in Cincinnati, Ohio, another CBS affiliate. Here Haber's reporting garnered him several Emmy awards for his coverage.

The break Haber's career had been building up to came in 1994 with an offer to work for ESPN. Haber, along with current talk show host, Craig Kilborn, co-hosted the "feel good edition" of Sports Center.

ESPN's "cornerstone philosophy" of anchors writing everything they read fit very well with Haber's own opinion on the subject and Haber fit right into this new environment.

After a three year employment period, Haber moved onto Fox Sports in NYC and last year relocated to Washington D.C. to host his own morning radio show, called Haber & Erin. He jokingly cites the inability to find a parking space in Manhattan as the reason for moving to the D.C. area.

During his already extensive career, Haber has become a familiar face and voice with spectators of many sports. He has reported on everything from tennis, basketball, football and hockey to cycling and has covered major competitions ranging from the Super Bowl, World Series, NAACP, Olympics, and Stanley Cup to the Indy 500.

Avid sports fans respect and admire Haber's enthusiasm and dedication to sports casting and, as evidenced by other discussion forums, miss his perspective and expertise when he is gone.

"Sports will always be a part of my life," Haber says but at the same time knows that "there is more to life than sports." Thus, he has "spread his wings" to cover the news and current events on his entertainment celebrity music radio show.

Having worked in both radio and television, Haber says that, "Without either one there would be a void in my life." Comparing radio with television, he concludes that radio is "more representative of who you are and reflects reality" because radio shows last four and a half hours a day.

Three-minute segments on the nightly news require preparation and writing and, in Haber's own words, "any monkey in a suit who can go through three minutes of English can do the job." Radio work requires more savvy, analysis and the ability to think, Haber says.

Clarifying, Haber adds: Because I'm vain, I will always love television and any TV personality who says they aren't self-loving are full of it.

In addition to his career, Haber focuses on his recently expanded family - with the arrival of son, Taylor, on August 20, 2002 - and on his charitable works.

He recalls that the "twenties are a selfish decade when one establishes oneself." He does "not fault kids who don't become that charitable at that time in life."

He believes that "while in their 30s, people become more aware of the world beyond themselves." This enlightenment normally accompanies getting married, having children and finally having a sense of place," Haber says.

"The ability to help is rewarding," Haber says. "Doubly beneficent is to get involved with something meaningful to you," he adds.

Haber is involved with the Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation for treatment of brain tumor patients and hosts fundraisers for the organization. Time Gullikson was Pete Sampras' coach and many may remember Sampras' emotional reaction during a tennis match when he first heard that his coach had a brain tumor. Tim's brother, Tom, established the Foundation to help others in similar situations.

Haber also supports the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and is a spokesman for Adidas America, where he leads youth tennis, track and basketball forums.

Haber's curriculum vitae so far proves that it is possible to "do it all" in one lifetime.

Haber's passion and genuine interest for journalism helped catapult him to national recognition and his high energy and level of enthusiasm will help keep him in the spotlight for a long time to come.

Last Updated: 6/21/12