Davies Allen, P.C. Interviews Alema Harrington, Television Host and Radio Personality
We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Alema Harrington, Davies Allen, P.C. client and host of Jazz Game Night, the Emmy Award-winning television broadcast of the Utah Jazz basketball team on the Root Sports Network, host of BYUtv football pre and post-game shows, and a radio personality show host.
Davies Allen: I was reading about your broadcasting career, and you started in Hawaii, is that right?
Alema Harrington: Well, I was born and raised in Hawaii, so my broadcast career in Hawaii, but it was after I was done at BYU, I got my Bachelors degree in communications and sociology at BYU, then I went back to Hawaii, and that’s where I started my broadcast career, and then I Came back up here in ’96.
Davies Allen: Did you always want [to be a broadcaster]?
Alema Harrington: My father was and still is an entertainer and an actor, and so I think I had aspirations to go somewhere in that direction. I didn’t really know exactly what I would do, but it kind of fell into place for me.
Davies Allen: You’ve done a lot of public speaking and been in the public eye a lot. What’s the been like for you?
Alema Harrington: I think it’s been kind of normal for me. Again, my father is a great entertainer and an orator. He was a great speaker. He was a teacher by profession, so I grew up around that, and then with my broadcast background and other opportunities to speak about what I’m passionate about, it just came naturally. [My father] didn’t push me in that direction, but I think that as an example, he kind of paved the way.
Davies Allen: Do you have any tips for people who choose to go into [public speaking]?
Alema Harrington: I have people that approach me pretty regularly with it and wanting to get into it. I think first and foremost, you really have to be passionate about what you’re talking about. I think people who have that passion, initially, that’s why they want to get into it, and then realize that it’s often not as easy as it seems. Broadcasting is the same way. It’s like “Oh, it seems like it would be really easy to get in front of a camera and talk, and I find a lot where we, as a host of a show, we bring somebody on and they think “Oh, this will be easy”, and then once the camera is rolling or once the microphone is on, they freeze up. It’s being able to overcome that. Sometimes that takes time for people to overcome that, and sometimes they never do it. And then there are other people that it just comes naturally to them and the camera disappears and the microphone disappears and they’re just able to be themselves in front of the camera. I encourage people who are trying to get into it to give it a shot and see what happens, and you’ll know pretty quickly whether that’s a pressure that you enjoy or a pressure that’s just too much. A lot of people have different talents somewhere else. I think it’s important to try it. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, there’s certainly something else that you were meant to do.
Davies Allen: Do you have any specific tips or qualities that you admire in other broadcasters that you feel like they do well?
Alema Harrington: I think the guys that I admire the most are ones that are just very natural on camera. Especially when it comes to being on the news or there’s a teleprompter. I personally can tell the difference between a teleprompter reader and a broadcaster. There are people that read the teleprompters as an assist, and those are the people I admire, that have a general understanding and a feel for everything that is going on. For me and my business, I came up through the ranks, so I learned every aspect of the business on the way up. So I understand what’s going on behind the camera, I understand what’s going on in the production booth, or the truck, what the director is dealing with, lighting, all the different aspects of a production. I think that’s beneficial. I’d get interns that came in, and they’d just want to be in front of a television camera and there’s so much more to it, just learning the other parts, that I think really benefit you.
Davies Allen: You’re currently writing a book. Can you tell me about it?
Alema Harrington: I wrote this book that kind of chronicled my journey in recovery. When I speak on addiction recovery and my personal journey, I have a lot of stories and anecdotes that I share that illustrate a principle that we’re working through in recovery. Whether it’s humility or compassion or understanding or patience, humility is a big one. I have different stories that I would tell. So I recorded those in a book. This was about 6 years ago. I was still struggling in my own addiction at the time, and I have been sober for different periods of time in my life. As I wrote this book, I Thought “Maybe I’ll go back to school and get my substance use disorder counseling degree so that I’d have some levers to put behind my name instead of just being an author of a guy who’s got some experience in personal addiction recovery to have some clinical background. And as I did that, I went back and got my clinical degree, my counseling degree, at UVU, part of getting that degree was doing an internship, and I just fell in love with being involved in the work. In the trenches with the work. And then I found that it’s the best thing that I Can do for my own recovery, is to be around it continually. So the book has just been on the back burner for now, where that was initially part of the motivation. At some point, I’ll publish the book. But at this point, I’m just enjoying being a part of the work.
Davies Allen: If you could summarize your whole career, in your experience as a broadcaster and everything you’ve done in just a few sentences, what would you say about it?
Alema Harrington: Peaks and valleys. And understanding that every peak has a valley, and every valley has a peak. That perspective, I think, allows me, or has allowed me to get through the dark times. Because there’s been very dark times. But understanding that there’s a larger plan. I tell my clients all the time “God has a plan, and it’s better than yours. God has a plan, and it’s better than mine.” So that has been my experience. If I was going to sum it up, the times that I’ve tried to do my plan, it’s average at best. When I try to follow God’s plan, it’s amazing.”
Davies Allen: What’s been your favorite part of being a public personality on television?
Alema Harrington: You know, the funny thing about it that I don’t see it that way. In part because I grew up with a father that did this for a living. So when that happens and people ask me what it’s like to have a dad that does that, it’s like “It’s my dad.” Same thing for me in a lot of respects. My children, if you ask them, “Oh, what’s it like having a dad on tv?” It’s like “It’s my dad.” So it hasn’t been unique because I’ve been doing this my entire life. As soon as I was done with college, and even when I was in college, I was doing some of these things, so it doesn’t seem odd. It doesn’t seem odd because my father did it, too. It’s like “That’s what dad does.” This just happens to be what I do, or you do, or what J.W. does. We all have jobs that we do. Hopefully, jobs that we love and that we’re good at. This just happens to be the one that I do.
My favorite part is when I’m working with someone or an audience and the moment becomes all-encompassing. There’s a spiritual component to it where it’s beyond anything that I could have rehearsed or tried to produce or tried to create. It’s kind of a sensation of awe and gratitude all at the same time. That moment, that connection with the audience or the person I’m working with where you know that there’s some sort of divine component intervention. I don’t necessarily know how to describe it. Like athletes would call it “Being in the zone.” I think it’s that regardless of what your profession is, there’s moments, the way that I describe the feeling is being in harmony with the purpose of our creation. Like I’m doing right now exactly what God created me to do at that moment, with that person, whatever it might be. And when I’m in harmony with the purpose of my creation, that is true fulfillment.
Davies Allen: Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years?
Alema Harrington: [Laughs] Probably still doing this. I’ll probably be in front of a camera and working on the broadcast side of things. Maybe 10 more years. I’m 51 now. People in my industry can work into their 60’s if they care to. And I enjoy what I do.
To learn more about Alema and his work, visit http://www.alemaharrington.com.