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Career Connections Spotlight: Calvin Robbins Jr.


Calvin Robbins Jr in a news station
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Welcome to our Career Connections series, where we speak with Alumni who inspire us to build deep connections with our community, passion, and careers.


Calvin Robbins Jr in a news station
Calvin Robbins, Jr.

Calvin Robbins Jr. is an Emmy Award winning technical director (TD) at the NBC affiliate news station in Phoenix, Arizona who graduated from Florida A&M University (FAMU) with a degree in broadcast journalism. He is also a College Summit Alumni! He did his Workshop back in 2014 at Nova University and returned to PeerForward to serve as a Writing Coach in 2022.





We caught up with him to discuss his life after high school, his career journey, and how his experience with College Summit (now, PeerForward) helped shape his future.   

In your own words, what do you do for work:

I am in control of all technical aspects of a newscast. I control what you, the viewers, see including graphics, camera shots, videos, and any other sources. My job is to follow the news script and to use a switchboard to change sources, audio, and graphics on air.

What is the best part of your career?

My schedule is the best thing. I work 4 days out of the week and I’m off 3 giving me time to spend with my wife and daughter.

Please, tell us about your career path from college to your current position. Which role do you think impacted you most?

I didn’t have to wait long after college to get a job being a TD. I got my first job as a TD at Tallahassee’s ABC affiliate one month after I graduated from FAMU. If the COVID pandemic didn’t hit I would’ve had a job as soon as I graduated college. Being active with my school’s newscast and newspaper had a major impact on my post-graduate success. I was over-prepared for everything that was thrown at me because I already had a head start using some of the same tools I’ve used at the 3 stations I’ve worked at so far. Once I overcame my fear of being uncomfortable I volunteered as much as I could, learning every position that was behind the scenes.

Calvin Robbins Jr. emmy award
Calvin earned an Emmy

What has been the biggest accomplishment of your career thus far?

As of right now the biggest accomplishment I’ve had was being nominated for two Emmys and winning one. My morning newscast team and I won an Emmy for the best Morning Newscast in the region. There are Emmys for each region of TV news across the country and I’ve won one in the Rocky Mountain Southwest region. The nominations came during my first year working at KPNX 12 News in Phoenix. It was a hard choice choosing KPNX over the other job offers I had. I could’ve moved back home to Miami working at a station I grew up watching. I had an offer from a station in North Carolina, and I had a few other offers from different cities in Texas. Choosing Phoenix looks like it was the right move so far after winning the award.
How did College Summit inspire you to shape your future?
College Summit helped me open up a little bit more to people. I wasn’t the most talkative person and honestly, I’m still not, but my reasons for not speaking have changed. Now I choose not to speak unless I truly have something to say. Before I would be afraid to speak because I cared so much about what others would think of me and what they would say about me. Going through the College Summit activities with the Alumni Leaders and the other Peer Leaders helped me realize that the majority of us think alike. There is no need to be afraid of anyone’s opinion because it is just an opinion. Not a fact or law.
Calvin poses with Writing Coaches
2022 Writing Coaches
What is one piece of advice you would give a Peer Leader who is interested in pursuing a career in your field?

The biggest advice I can give an aspiring TD is to try to volunteer at a news station ASAP. You do not need to have a college degree to be a technical director or to do any job on the production side of news. Though you do not need a degree, you do need to have a decent amount of knowledge of how a newsroom works and how to use the equipment. If you want to be a director you have to know certain terms. You have to know what a M/E is or what a CG is. You have to know what a SOT or a VO is. Knowing these things can only come from being around them directly at a station or going to postsecondary schools to learn about them. You can learn a little bit from YouTube as well, but there isn’t any learning like in-person learning.
Thank you, Calvin! Beyond his work as a TD, Calvin spends his summer serving as a volunteer Writing Coach for PeerForward. He continues to inspire hundreds of first-generation college students to tell their stories, pursue their passion, and uplift their community.
Calvin Robbins Jr. poses with peer leaders at PeerForward workshop
Calvin poses with his Writing Team