Although she was only 6 at the time, Ashley Bohle still can recall being in a classroom with her teacher, Mrs. Duke, as she and her classmates watched the breaking news on Sept. 11, 2001.
“All we saw were buildings burning,” said Bohle, a senior at Elon University. "You’re just like: That just shouldn’t be happening, all the smoke, all these flames.”
To many 6 year olds, a news report such as 9/11 would be frightening. Bohle, however, was inspired by Tom Brokaw’s reporting abilities.
“I just remember being in awe of his job and really liking him and thinking, ‘Hey, I want to do that one day,’” Bohle said.
And, as the news director for Elon Local News, she’s on her way.
Bohle had always been interested in leadership, and she entered Elon University in the Isabella Cannon Leadership Fellows program. During her freshman year, she became involved with Elon Local News. By sophomore year, she was the assistant assignment manager and by junior year she became the full-fledged assignment manager.
On her 21st birthday, Bohle found out that she had been elected as the Elon Local News news director, a job that has proven to be not only time consuming and challenging for her, but also rewarding.
As news director, Bohle is in charge of overseeing all of ELN’s broadcasts (including three live shows and one prerecorded show each week) and breaking news, managing schedules, meetings and conflicts and managing the video content that is put onto ELN’s social media outlets. Bohle just can’t escape the communications school.
“Every day of the week I spend at least an hour a day doing emails, or working on shows, or figuring out the next thing we’re doing,” Bohle said. “I am someone who will stay here and I’ll dig tooth and nail till I get it right, I don’t like to give up.”
Elizabeth Bilka, the executive producer of ELN, would agree. Bilka has seen Bohle’s perseverance and leadership skills firsthand through working underneath her on the Monday night show.
“She’s not one to easily back down out a story just because things aren’t going well,” Bilka said. “She usually pushes herself even harder to find people and to find a new angle that we didn’t think about.”
Tommy Hamzik, an Elon senior and Bohle’s “boss” as the executive director of ENN and overseer of all online, broadcast and print coverage, has benefited from Bohle’s work ethic as well.
“She always provides very good perspectives on things and tries to tackle different sides of the issue to present the different avenues we could go,” Hamzik said.
Bohle’s skills have been put to good use this year as Elon has dealt with news involving politics, resignations and death.
However, Bohle was just as busy over this past summer, when she interned at NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt in New York City.
“It was the time of my life,” Bohle said.
Although she mostly did tasks such as transcribing, running scripts around and answering phones, there was one day that Bohle vividly recalled as her favorite day of the internship. On Saturday, July 2, her producer mentor gave her a credit card and instructed her to take a cab to LaGuardia airport to get more footage. Once she was there, Bohle met with a videographer and interviewed four different people, some of the footage making it onto the air. For her, this experience was a dream come true.
When Bohle is not working for Elon Local News, she likes to spend time with her boyfriend (a senior at Wake Forest) and her roommate as well as go on runs. A former cross country runner, she runs 5 to 6 miles every day around campus as a way of calming down and mentally escaping the news room.
“I feel like it’s needed, especially when you’re in a high stress news environment,” Bohle said.
However, Bohle also goes out of her way to make sure that her fellow staff members also escape the stress of the news room. Last fall, she held a “Sunday Funday” for the ENN staff.
“She went to the store and bought a basketball, some bouncy balls, a couple hula hoops, and she made sure that one Sunday when we were in her locked up for production most of the day that we went outside to the basketball court over by McEwen,” Hamzik recalled. “It was a really cool way to have some sort of social interaction with everybody that was outside of the office.”
And Bohle plans on continuing to be in a news office environment. Ideally, she sees herself starting out as a local TV news reporter, and then possibly moving up to be a network TV news correspondent. Although she wishes that NBC would open up a branch in Charlotte, North Carolina, she also loves the idea of going back to New York.
“They say you can’t fall in love with a place, but I definitely fell in love there with the city,” Bohle said. “With the lights, with the people, it was just so much fun.”
Bohle feels that Elon has done a wonderful job preparing her for the real world and supplying her with experience, contacts and lots of fun memories.
Her advice to anyone trying to find their path in the world?
“Find something you’re passionate about and stick with it,” she said. “Even if it fades in two or three years from now, you’ve had experience.”