In Faculty News, Journalism

014This fall, the BYU Department of Communications welcomes Othello Richards, Jr. as a visiting instructor to teach broadcast journalism classes.

Richards brings to BYU 11 years of experience as a broadcast journalist. He has worked at ABC 4 in Salt Lake City and Washington State, at television news stations in theTri-Cities and Spokane. Richards also brings with him an infectious laugh, a positive attitude and a current knowledge of the industry. When Richards started at BYU as a freshman in 1997, he began as a mechanical engineering major.  After serving a mission, he returned to those same classes.

“I was sitting in class the first week, and I thought, ‘You know what? This is boring,’” Richards said with a laugh. “I went and changed my entire schedule. All my engineering classes—gone. I changed them all to communications.”

After starting communications classes, Richards quickly found his new major far more compelling than engineering. In addition, he found it aligned perfectly with his interests.

“Growing up I watched the news all the time,” Richards said. “I loved writing for the school paper. I was a news junkie. I felt like I was a good writer and I enjoyed it, so I figured I would go into it.”

Richards was born in Monrovia, Liberia, and moved to Alexandria, VA when he was 6 years old. Before he even considered attending BYU, Richards planned to fly in the Air Force, but since he didn’t have 20-20 vision he started applying to the United States Military Academy at West Point.

“I probably would have gotten in, but while I was going through the application process, a BYU recruiter came to the DC area,” Richards said. “It got me thinking about attending BYU, and eventually I did.”

Richards graduated in 2003, and the years he spent on campus led to him become a devoted fan of all things BYU. In his office he has a picture of himself; in it he’s on a safari in Kenya, and giraffes are standing in the background. Richards is smiling, and in his hands he proudly holds a BYU flag.

“I wanted people to know I’m representing BYU in Kenya,” Richards said with a smile. As a student, Richards also represented BYU’s track team, running sprints. “You may [still]see me at the Smith Field House doing 100-meter sprints.”

He spent eight years in Spokane as a news reporter.  While there he met his wife, Ashley, but Richards is excited to be back in Provo. As a die-hard BYU fan, he is anxious to attend some football and basketball games, but he may not be able to do so.

“With the baby on the way, I don’t know,” Richards said. “I’ll probably be watching it on TV at home.”

Throughout his career, Richards covered the daily news, anything from crime and court to local health concerns, floods blizzards and wildfires. He has found plenty of fulfillment in presenting news stories that influence people for the better.

“In journalism you’re going to cover stories where you have the opportunity to help somebody,” Richards said. “And these stories will make a big difference in how much help they get. I’ve covered people who have lost their home, lost everything and then the community outpouring happens.”

Typically when he started at a news station, the director would ask Richards what he would want to do in the future. Often news reporters will say they want to become an anchor, or work in New York.

“I said, when I worked at my last station eight years ago, ‘I want to teach,’” Richards said. “I wanted to be a journalism instructor.”

Now that he’s here, Richards plans to enable students to succeed in the real world of broadcast journalism.

“Having worked 11 years in the field, I have a great grasp on what the students will face when they get out there,” Richards said. “I want students to leave here knowing exactly what they’re going to face and be prepared to face those things.”

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