Alumni Feature: Laurence Holmes
Laurence Holmes wears many hats. And this past weekend he donned a new one to walk across the commencement stage in Tuscaloosa along with over 5,000 other spring graduates.
Holmes has a TV spot (NBC Chicago Sports) and a midday radio show (670 The Score) — he was just promoted from evenings, by the way. He also hosts LoHo Daily (a podcast on Radio.com) and teaches a media class at DePaul University’s College of Communication as an adjunct professor. And on top of all of that, about two years ago, he started pursuing his master’s in Journalism online through Bama By Distance.
“I want to be in a position to teach full time at some point, because I really enjoy it. The experience at DePaul has kind of opened up my eyes to being an educator on more of a permanent basis,” Holmes explained, adding that the credential of a master’s degree would allow him to consider pursuing more than his adjunct role at DePaul. With parents and a wife who are all educators, it’s a calling that seems to fit, even showing up as early as his undergraduate days as a potential career choice.
“I was going to teach history, but I love radio because I had done radio in high school,” he shared. Holmes’ high school has the highest-power high school radio station in the country, so his extracurricular activity helped him gain valuable experience that shaped his career path.
The master’s in Journalism seemed to be a good next step for his already successful career, offering to blend his success with his passion for education and love for radio to set the stage for an exciting future.
The University of Alabama’s program attracted him because of the professors with years of experience in the field. But what solidified his choice to earn his degree from the University was how these practitioner professors treated him, especially a simple phone call from Dr. Chris Roberts when he hadn't quite finished filling out his application.
“The thing that pushed me over the top was that Alabama was the only place that reached out to me personally. I immediately felt wanted.”
That feeling continued throughout the program. Holmes said the welcoming gestures and communication he received from faculty and staff seemed genuine and inviting, not routine or automated, allowing a native Chicagoan who hadn't attended one class on campus to feel “a part of this university.”
Citing professors by name, Holmes listed Dr. Wilson Lowery, Dr. Chris Roberts, Dr. George Daniels, Dr. Dianne Bragg (whom he called a “dynamite professor”) and Chip Brantley as having profound impacts on his learning.
About Brantley and his class, Holmes said, “He’s like MacGyver — like, he just kind of knows stuff. That class was really challenging … I was learning how to code and data scrape and all this stuff. It could have been like I was learning Swahili. But then I would have breakthroughs, and I would understand it and see the value of it … I’m actually shocked that I was able to pick up all this stuff.”
Subscribers to Holmes’ personal podcast, House of L, have Dr. Lowery to thank, as Holmes credits Dr. Lowery and his Entrepreneurial Journalism class as being the push he needed to finally get it off the ground in June 2018. His podcast has near 300,000 downloads in less than a year.
Reflecting on how he initially saw the degree program as a means to an end, Holmes offered, “I thought of it as ‘I’ll have my master’s degree which will allow me to teach,’ but now after going through the program, there’s more stuff that I learned that I can teach and bring to my students because of being in this program. I think it’s going to make me a better teacher. I honestly think it’s made me a better journalist.”