The Salt Lake Community College Multicultural Initiative Multicultural Career Advancement Program (MCAP) invited ABC 4 sports broadcaster Wesley Ruff to South City Campus on Feb. 22. Ruff has won the Utah Sportscaster of the Year award four times.
“I have the best job in the world,” Ruff said.
During his career, Ruff has had the opportunity to interview former president of the United States Gerald Ford and travel to Japan to cover the first Utah Jazz game played outside of the United States. In 1992, he was in Los Angeles covering a Jazz game when the L.A. riot happened. He saw the great damage and many fires in the city, and for a moment, he thought he was going to die. On a lighter note, Ruff has also had the opportunity to interview Michael Jordan numerous times.
“I saw him naked many times in the locker room,” Ruff joked.
Ruff grew up idolizing NBA players Wilt Chamberlain and Hal Greer. He always wanted to become a professional basketball player but his height didn’t help, so Ruff attended Southern Utah University as a business major. Time, however, made him realize that sports were his real passion, not business. He transferred to Brigham Young University and graduated from there with a degree in broadcast journalism.
There were few opportunities for Ruff when he graduated, but he was able to find one far from home in Bismarck, North Dakota. Because there are no professional sports to cover in North Dakota, Ruff started his career as a night photographer in Bismarck covering high school teams. He said it wasn’t the best salary but helped him acquire the experience he needed to grow. He later received the opportunity to be the weekend sports reporter at a local channel in Bismarck until he received a call from an old friend offering an opportunity at ABC channel 4, the same company he’s worked for the past 27 years.
“Utah has only four local channels and probably two sportscasters per station, so there are few opportunities for new journalists in Utah, but that doesn’t mean you cannot find one,” Ruff said.
Ruff said that because of the Internet, journalism is changing. People want the news immediately instead of waiting until 10 p.m. He noted that the broadcast industry is dying because of this and said that it may not even exist in five years.
Ruff recommended that SLCC students currently studying journalism focus on their writing skills because many teachers have forgotten how to teach writing skills. He believes a good journalist has to have great writing skills in order to succeed in the field.
“When studying journalism, just be yourself,” he said. “Don’t let anybody tell you what you can and can’t do.”