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LIU Post Graduate Making Headlines at KTLA-TV

Vito Formica ’97 credits LIU Post for his success as morning news producer


Rita Langdon,Associate Provost and Director of Public Relations & Marketing
Long Island University, LIU Post

Vito FormicaVito Formica never knows what is going to greet him when he arrives at work every afternoon. One day it's a car chase up the freeway, another day it's an earthquake. And then there was the time when a man scaled the large antennae outside of his building. 

All in a day's work for a news producer in Los Angeles.

Formica, a 1997 graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A. in journalism, is the producer of the KTLA Morning News in Los Angeles.

"All my experience at LIU Post, all the activities I participated in, played a big part in where I am today," Formica said. "I'm lucky in a sense that I knew what I wanted to do when I got to college. I took advantage of everything from day one."

While a student at LIU Post, Formica worked at WCWP Radio and as a reporter for The Pioneer, the student newspaper. Formica interned extensively, including a position at WNBC New York in the news department.

After graduation, he worked as a producer at a television station in Allentown, Penn. When his parents relocated to Florida, Formica decided to leave the cold winters behind, and go with them. He was hired as a freelancer writing commercials and soon joined the Home Shopping Network as a producer. Although he was initially hesitant to take a job in TV that was outside of news, Formica says it was a good opportunity and worked at the network for over a year.

Soon though, he realized it was time to get back to news if that's where he wanted his career to head. One night he was working at HSN and heard a familiar voice coming out of his television. A news anchor he worked with in Allentown was now sitting behind the news desk in Tampa. Thanks to that connection, he soon secured a position as a producer, staying at that station for three years. 

Producing in Tampa led to a position at WSVN Channel 7 in Miami. Formica spent eight years there, starting off as a morning news producer and then working his way through every news show -- The morning news, weekends nights, then the weekday evening news, and finally the station's primetime 10 p.m. newscast.

As producer, Formica capitalized on the station's reputation for big graphics and aggressive reporting. 

"The station branded itself as the South Florida news station, and we lived up to it," Formica said. Reporters were sent on national and international stories, treating everything like a local story. "It was a very intense place to work," he said. "The producing style was at a faster pace. It was like boot camp for news."

It prepared him well for what would become his current position at KTLA. Owned by Tribune, KTLA is the CW affiliate in Los Angeles. 

"I've been working to make positive changes to what is already a good, solid newscast," he said. "You want news to be informative but entertaining. At times it can be a challenge because you want to strike a balance. You don't want your newscast to be dry and boring, but it can't be too fluffy and waste people's time. I strive to give people the feeling that they are getting a lot of news and are being informed, but at the same time watching a show that is compelling."

Formica has been in LA for nearly two years and his impact has already paid off. Last summer the KTLA 10 p.m. broadcast, which he produced for over a year, was nominated for a local Emmy Award. The program didn't win, but the recognition was still meaningful.

"Anytime a station is nominated it means you are doing a good job. It shows that people recognize the effort that is being put into what we do. So many people work on the show -- reporters, cameramen, directors, writers, assignment desk editors, and graphic artists. The nomination is a nod to everyone's hard work, not just mine."

On a personal level, Formica says he's enjoying his time on the left coast. "Los Angeles really is a cool place," he said. "It's got this energy -- there is always something going on. It's a big gritty city with its own problems, but it's not just about that -- that's just one component. It's got great cuisine from all parts of the world, it's got great culture and the people are interesting. It's been a good change of pace."

It also offers Formica a wealth of funny anecdotes. KTLA shares a lot with "Judge Judy" and "Let's Make a Deal," and he lives two blocks away from the Kodak Theatre in the same building as Ashley Holmes, daughter of Jacqueline Laurita from "The Real Housewives of New Jersey."

"It really is la-la land!" he laughs.

Posted 05/15/2012

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