Since his graduation in 2013 with a Kent State University degree in communication studies, alumnus Brandon Arroyo has worked in broadcast journalism throughout Northeast Ohio. His busy schedule led to a desire to learn how to cook, which prompted an audition for the Food Network's “Worst Cooks in America." Arroyo secured a spot and joined the Season 12 cast with episodes airing each Sunday at 9 p.m. on the Food Network.
Learn more about Arroyo and cheer him on as he competes against 15 others.
Where did you attend high school?
I went to Brookside High School in Sheffield Lake, Ohio.
Were you involved in any high school media organizations?
You know what’s interesting is that I wasn’t involved in student media in high school but I was in middle school! We had a little show that we would do each morning for the morning announcements. I was the anchor and my classmates did weather and sports. I guess you could say that was the start of my journalism career at age 12.
When did you start cooking and learned that you loved to cook?
Love is a very strong word…we definitely have a very love-hate relationship, cooking and me. Maybe we’re close friends? My cooking experience was very rarely more than throwing a pop tart in a microwave. Unfortunately for my old floor mates at Fletcher Hall during my freshman year, I hadn’t quite mastered removing the foil wrapper…good thing for those big windows! But yes, my cooking experience has been minimal to say the least.
Tell us a little about the process of getting on “Worst Cooks in America.”
Actually the spark is definitely because of my girlfriend. I had come home from work one evening and I saw Mike “The Situation” from Jersey Shore on television. So I sat down to check it out and it turned out to be a celebrity edition of the show “Worst Cooks In America.” I thought I fit that description pretty well and did a quick Google search on how to apply, did my application online and a few phone calls later I was headed to boot camp!
What was your favorite part of being on “Worst Cooks in America”?
I’m a very competitive person, so picture this: you’re cooking while racing against the clock, either your dish is better than the competition’s or you are eliminated, all while making best friends with everyone on the cast and getting to learn from two world class chefs. The entire thing was the best part. I loved every minute.
Do you currently work as a chef on top of your sports journalism career?
Nope…can’t say that I do. Although I did buy a chef’s apron since being on the show. I think it will be quite apparent from minute one that I truly have no familiarity with the kitchen.
What has your professional career looked like since graduation?
I have been very fortunate since graduating Kent State that while taking on a career in journalism I have been able to stay close to home. I have anchored sports in Charleston, West Virginia; Erie, Pennsylvania and Toledo, Ohio. With that I have been able to cover my hometown teams. I’ve stood on the sidelines of the Browns, Cavaliers, Indians and Ohio State games. I have stood face-to-face with LeBron James inside the Cavaliers locker room. I stood on the court while LeBron was handed the Eastern Conference Championship Trophy. For only being in the business for five years, I have experienced a lifetime. With this experience in 2018, I am launching a new sports and entertainment website in Cleveland called, “That’s My 216.” My professional career has been everything any aspiring sports journalist could ask for and then some.
Were you involved in any student organizations while attending Kent State? How did those organizations prepare you for your career?
During my time at Kent State I was involved in TV2, Navigators and I went through the pledge process at Delta Upsilon. My time as a member of TV2 is what really gave me the kick into this business. While being a part of Kent student media, I launched my own late-night talk show and I hosted a dating game show which had over one-hundred people come watch for its live taping. The experience I got at TV2 proved to potential employers that I could be comfortable on camera, which is huge. In fact, it was my late-night talk show at Kent that earned me an on-air internship in Cleveland my senior year, which doesn’t happen very often. I’d recommend to anyone that targets a career in television to make TV2 your hardworking playground. If you want your own show, find a way to make it happen. I’m proof that it can launch your career.
How did your communication classes prepare you for your sports journalism career?
You can never underestimate the importance of knowing “why.” Why will a viewer feel this emotion while watching you, why do you place images and text the way you do when you are creating a flyer, why are some public speeches ordered one way and some another? Communication classes at Kent State taught me the “why” for how you communicate, and that is as valuable as gold. Whether you are on the phone trying to sell something, or on television interviewing an NBA athlete, there is extreme leverage in knowing why you are doing something the way you are doing it.
At this point in your professional career, what class has helped prepare you the most for what you are doing now?
I believe the class was called “High Impact Speaking” with Dr. James Trebing. I’d recommend this course to every single major. The way that you learn to speak in this class, and the way that I witnessed some people get past their fear of public speaking was truly a sight to see. It all comes back to the “why” you communicate the way that you do. You will learn that and get practical experience. I use information that I learned in Dr. Trebing’s class every time that I step on television.
Why should students choose to study communication studies at Kent State University from other universities?
If Kent State is the campus and has the faculty that speak to you, all I can say is that it worked for me. All people are different. I will say that at Kent State you hold your destiny in your hands. If you choose to take advantage of all the knowledge, faculty and club opportunities that is available to you at Kent State, you will be successful. My crazy live television career started at Kent State, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What advice would you give to a graduating senior to help prepare them for the job market?
I have been fired, I have had contracts not renewed and I have had over 100 resumes sent out and heard back from anyone. The best advice I can give you is that your journey will have stumbles. Still, you must believe in yourself. As you feel this most surreal feeling of bittersweet anticipation, embrace that too. Your legacy is now officially in your hands. I could give you tips on rereading your resume one final time but I have full faith that you are prepared, and you should have that faith too. Be proud of what you have accomplished at your time at Kent State. Trust in the process that they have prepared you to succeed in your field of choice. Most importantly, trust in yourself. There will be no stumble that you cannot stand up from. I’m proof you can be fired and then a year later be standing next to LeBron James.
What three words would you use to describe Kent State Communication Studies?
Kent State School of Communication Studies represents family, home and foundation.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years, I see myself hosting a late night talk show in downtown Cleveland. Mark your calendars!