Aaron Housenga loaded up on hands-on experiences as a sports media and communication and broadcast double major at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Today, he is an associate producer for the NFL Network and will work this Sunday as part of the Super Bowl team.
How did he get there? Experiences on the field for HuskerVision definitely helped, and Housenga explains why.
Talk about your current role as an associate producer for the NFL.
I’m an associate producer at the NFL Network. One of my main job responsibilities during the NFL season at the network is working as a tape producer for shows such as NFL Gameday Kickoff and GameDay Final for Thursday and Monday Night Football. Those shows serve as our pregame and postgame shows for those primetime games. In addition, I work on other daily shows during the year such as NFL Total Access which serves as an NFL news type of show but also opens up to being a debate type of show as well. For those shows, I’m more in edit—working with PAs and editors to get all the tapes cut that the producers want for the show.
At the end of the season, I’m one of the leaders when it comes to prepping content for the network for the Super Bowl, getting all content ready for all teams and players in the big game. We use all those assets/elements we cut for the two weeks leading up to the big game and then for our Super Bowl pre and postgame shows.
During the NFL offseason, I’m also prepping content for the network and then working as a tape producer on the broadcasts for events such as the NFL Scouting Combine, NFL Draft, the Hall of Fame Enshrinement, and more.
You’ve had a lot of experience in sports media since graduating. Were there any experiences in college that really solidified your love for the industry?
I think the experience of the electric atmosphere of working on Husker Football Saturdays was what made me love working sports media even more. I knew from early on in high school that I wanted to work in sports broadcast production, but every Nebraska home football game took that passion for my career to another level. I love what I do for my job and what my jobs have entailed over the years, but the atmosphere and the product of the sport is what I love most. Working in sports is not a typical 9–5, every day is different and that’s why I love going to work every day.
Previously, you were ballpark presentation coordinator for the Pittsburgh Pirates and a production seasonal assistant for the Chiefs. What is it like to be able to contribute to the game day experience for these passionate fanbases?
There is nothing better than seeing the fans go crazy after watching a product you worked on leading up to that big game or series. The best thing about my times at the Chiefs and the Pirates was that the departments I worked in gave me so much creative freedom whether it was on hype videos, team/player interstitials and even sponsor elements. I was lucky to have a lot of experience at Nebraska, especially with working in control rooms, but working at the Chiefs helped me get experience working in a very fast-paced environment and helped me get better at thinking on my feet and boosted my creativity, especially for live and gameday production. For the Pirates, it helped me learn more about gameday/live production in baseball. Going from the Chiefs to the Pirates, there are definitely some things in NFL gameday production that wouldn’t work for an MLB team’s gameday production. So learning that was very key for me in my young career.
During undergrad, you had internships at Hudl and Huskervision. How did these hands-on experiences prepare you for life post-grad?
My experiences at Hudl and HuskerVision played such a pivotal role in why I’m where I’m at today at the NFL and NFL Network. With Hudl, it helped me get a lot of post-production experience, especially in video production. Hudl took my video editing skills to another level in Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects. The years of experience there helped me especially when I was at the Chiefs and Pirates when editing hype videos, sponsored elements, and other requests that would come up.
HuskerVision helped me get my first experience as a replay operator and tape producer. HuskerVision also helped me with video editing when I worked on the Husker Spring Game intro video one year and edited the Husker Baseball intro video one season as well. This internship really helped me get my feet wet with being in a control room atmosphere, but also helped me get ready for my job today since I work a lot in replay and tape.
Was there someone at Nebraska that had a big impact on you?
There are so many people that come to mind that had a big impact during my time at Nebraska. Kirk Hartman was someone who helped me a ton during my time at HuskerVision. He was constantly putting me on different types of shows and events during my time and he always gave me advice or critiques when I needed it. It helped me to get where I’m at today.
This isn’t a particular person but a majority of the Hudl Studios team I worked with at Hudl are people that helped me so much in my career but also as a person. People like Emma Hulsey, Chris Walsh, Kaylynn Knuth, Kelly Mosier, and much more helped in video production skills but also with life throughout college and were there for me whenever I needed it. People like them are what makes me miss Lincoln and being a college student.
Is there one thing you learned in your time at Nebraska that you’ve taken with you and continue to use every day?
I learned this most likely near the end of my time at Nebraska and slowly throughout my first after undergrad. One thing that I like to say, especially since where my friends and I are at in our young careers, is that everybody is in a different time zone when it comes to their career. Some people get their dream job a year or two after college while it might take others a longer road to get to their overarching goal. I always want to remind myself to never act or feel rushed, especially right now. If I work rushed or too hard, then it’ll affect how I do my job on a daily basis. I always want to stick to what I do best and how I do it and good things will continue to come. My time at my internships and classes at UNL really opened me up to this and has helped me stay on the right path no matter how long it takes.
What advice would you give to a college student looking for a job they’re passionate about?
The biggest thing for me, when I was in college, was to always seek discomfort. To truly figure out what I loved and what didn’t work for me, was to constantly try new things. There were classes and professors that helped me do this, but ultimately it was up to me to be willing to do so. Going into Nebraska my freshman year, I wanted to be an on-air sports broadcaster and be in front of the camera. One day, I wanted to learn how to use Adobe Premiere and other Adobe platforms such as Photoshop and After Effects. Once I started to get the basics, I did more personal projects and just started to grow a love for the post-production side of media and it led me to live production and where I’m at today. Always be willing to try new things because you never know where it could lead you. It could open you up to something that branches off your passion and much more.
Go Big Red!