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  Kathleen Friery
Kathleen Friery '84
Anderson Cooper 360º Emmy Awards
“Starving in Plain Sight”
Outstanding Live Coverage of a Breaking News Story (2006)
"Charity Hospital"
Outstanding Feature Story in a Regularly Scheduled Newscast (2006)
“Black Market Infertility”
Outstanding Coverage of a Current Business News Story in a Regularly Scheduled Newscast (2006)

Like most alumni who attended SUNY Potsdam and were not native to northern New York, two things stood out for Kathleen Friery: the cold and the snow.

Friery grew up in Dutchess County in New York’s Hudson Valley, where winters pale in comparison to a normal North Country winter of sub-zero temperatures and lots of blowing snow. Luckily, that didn’t dissuade her from coming to Potsdam.

“I don’t know why I chose Potsdam,” said Friery, who attended Potsdam from 1980 to 1984. “No one in my family had gone there. But I visited the school and felt like it was a place I belonged. I had a great four years there.”

Friery double majored in politics and English, which were both reading and writing intensive. The courses taught her how to think critically and synthesize heaps of information. She also became active in the College’s Dance Program, which she said has also come in to play in her career as a TV news producer.

Today, Friery is the executive producer of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360º, a nightly news broadcast that airs from 10 p.m. to midnight. The show has won numerous awards, most recently three Emmys in 2006.

After graduating from Potsdam, Friery, who said she always paid attention to the news, went on to earn a master’s degree in broadcast journalism from New York University. After graduating from NYU, she was hired by ABC’s 20/20, moving on to Good Morning America for 10 years before going back to 20/20. Then in 2002, Friery joined CNN to become Connie Chung’s senior producer. But the show lasted less than a year.

“Then, this guy Anderson Cooper came along,” she said. “I was given the choice of working on his show or Paula Zahn’s show. At the time, people thought her show was more desirable. But I really liked Anderson, and I went with my gut. I think my gut was right.”

Spending several years as a television producer, Friery did a bit of everything: researching, reporting, writing, shooting video and editing. That experience helped prepare her for overseeing the entire production of Anderson Cooper 360º.

“The thing about TV that is extremely challenging is the art of cutting things out,” she said. “In print you can get all sorts of information in an article. In TV, you have maybe two or three minutes and that’s it.”
As an executive producer for Anderson Cooper 360º, Friery no longer has her hands on the raw material. Instead, she’s in charge of putting together an entire two-hour program. In a way, she said, it’s similar to choreographing a dance production.

“Just like in dance, there is a rhythm to producing TV shows,” she said. “That’s the wonderful thing about a liberal arts college. You work on all these different parts of your personality.”

Her 12-hour days consist of numerous meetings, conference calls, keeping up with the headlines around the globe and mapping out the entire show. Friery returns home around 9 p.m. and sometimes watches the show live. Even if she doesn’t, she catches up on every show eventually.

Friery does try to skip out of the office a couple of times a week to attend a yoga class, and she takes full advantage of her weekends. But even when she’s not working, she’s always paying attention to what’s happening around the world.

“You’re always on,” she said, “and you’re always thinking about whether a story should make the show.”

While Friery is unsure if she’ll continue to work in television — or 12-hour days for that matter, she hasn’t given much thought to what she may want to do after Anderson Cooper 360º.

“I don’t worry about it too much,” she said. “If you love what you’re doing and you do it well, then opportunities will present themselves. I feel lucky because I love what I do; I’ve found something that feeds a lot of different parts of me.”