Al Drago ’15, Gary Grumbach ’16 head to Arkansas to provide national news coverage

The longtime friends traveled to Little Rock, Arkansas, this week to broadcast Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ Republican response to the Feb. 7 State of the Union address.

Al Drago ’15 (left) and Gary Grumbach ’16 stand outside the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock on Feb. 7 while working on location. Photo courtesy of Drago

The same day viewers across the nation tuned in to watch President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, two School of Communications alumni were playing integral roles in the U.S. political conversation.

Grumbach preps before speaking with Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders in the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion. Photo courtesy of Drago

In Little Rock, Arkansas, Gary Grumbach ’16 served as the pool producer for Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ Republican response to Biden’s address. The NBC reporter and producer oversaw that the statement was broadcasted to the five major networks – ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and CNN – live from the Governor’s Mansion.

Also on hand was Al Drago ’15, who served as the pool photographer on assignment for Bloomberg News. Drago transmitted live images as the governor was speaking to all major news wire services, including the Associated Press, Reuters, and Getty Images. His images were immediately published with live stories, and appeared on air and in print in newspapers across the country the next day.

Additionally, Julie Morse ’13, senior producer for the “CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell,” coordinated CBS News’ coverage from its Washington, D.C., bureau.

A look at the Feb. 8, 2023, front page of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, which includes an image of Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders taken by Drago.

“There’s that saying, you may leave Elon, but Elon will never leave you,” Grumbach said, referencing a phrase University President Emeritus Leo Lambert often used. “I think that rings incredibly true, when we’re years removed from our time in student media, yet continue to work together to cover some of the biggest news events of our time.”

And they aren’t the only Elon graduates making important contributions to the news cycle, they pointed out.

Grumbach noted the influential work by fellow alumnus David Douglas ’06, who is covering the recent mass shootings in California, and Selina Guevara ’19, who is chronicling the day-to-day happenings in the trial of Alex Murdaugh in Walterboro, South Carolina, for NBC News.

“If there’s a big news story happening in this country, there’s a good chance a graduate of the Elon University School of Communications is involved in the coverage,” Grumbach said.

Long before Grumbach and Drago were publicizing national news, they were roommates, fraternity brothers and student media colleagues at Elon – a fact they are only too happy to share.