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NFHS graduate makes it to NBC

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published February 16, 2016

FARMINGTON HILLS — Since joining NBC in January, North Farmington High School graduate Steve Patterson, 31, flew into a methane gas leak and was kidnapped.

It’s all part of the job for Patterson, a Farmington Hills native and longtime broadcast journalist, who made his way up the ranks and was recently hired as an NBC News correspondent.

“Right now, I’m telling the stories that the nation is listening to,” Patterson said. “It is a huge responsibility.”

Currently based at the Los Angeles bureau, Patterson previously worked as a reporter for CBS Philadelphia’s KYW-TV and for KSDK-TV in St. Louis, among other locations.

While the kidnapping was a simulation for handling conflict, the training was all very real for Patterson, who went with other broadcast journalists to upstate New York to a Girl Scout camp to be trained by “hardcore ex-military” personnel.

He experienced what it’s like to be shot at and deal with stressful checkpoints.

“It is very real … where you are going through this fictional country and ...  you have to figure out what you do in that situation,” he said.

Patterson, who graduated from NFHS in 2003 and Michigan State University in 2008, has a passion for foreign affairs and said he is interested in potentially pursuing work as a foreign correspondent.

Patterson said he is more than thrilled to be on the “Nightly News” program, adding that the nation has “growing pains,” and when there is progress, a new crop of challenges come with it. His job is to cover that.

“That is what I really wanted: a job that ... matters; everything we do matters,” he said. “It is an important time for the country, and I think to be able to get a front seat on the edge of history and to see things as they unfold, and to be the person that disseminates and relays that information for the entire country — it is an honor and something I don’t take lightly.”

One of Patterson’s recent stories in early February covered a methane gas leak in California.

“I got an opportunity to go up on a plane and fly into it and above it,” Patterson said. “It was exclusive and on ‘Nightly News.’ We just wanted to put that out there because I don’t think a lot of people knew it was happening and how bad it was.”

He added that he hopes to follow up on the experience.

“To be able to do that kind of work and get it on national news, that’s why I do what I do,” he said. “That is why I wanted to get this job — (to) tell (a) story like that.”

Patterson’s mother, Margo Patterson, said she is “overjoyed.”

“All parents dream that their children will accomplish more than they did in their lifetime,” she said. 

She added that it was always her hope for her son to do what he loves.

“That is exactly what he is doing,” she said. “That is one of the things that makes his job so special. People who live in this area should know … his story is an inspirational story. Never give up on your dream.” 

Margo Patterson said that during her son’s college years, he was unsure of what career path to take, and she suggested going into journalism.

“He thought about it, and the next thing I know … he declared it (journalism) as a major. From that moment on, he has excelled in that field.”

Patterson’s former professor Bob Gould, an MSU broadcast journalism instructor, said he could tell his student had high ethical standards and a passion for journalism. Gould also attended NFHS.

“We do definitely have a connection,” he said, adding that he helped Patterson along and critiqued his résumé reel, which Patterson appreciated and “embraced.”

“I nurtured him along and tried to work really hard getting him to improve his skills,” Gould said. “I knew he had passion and drive to do it.”

Gould also put in a good word for Patterson at WZZM-TV 13 in Grand Rapids, which is a larger market.

“It’s pretty impressive for your first job,” Gould said.

While there, Patterson received an Emmy nomination.

“It took me 10 years to get an Emmy nomination, and here he is doing it in a couple years,” Gould said, adding that Patterson is a good storyteller, which allows him to tell great stories “no matter where it is.”

Patterson said he is not certain where he will be placed, but he is looking forward to the stories he will tell those tuning in.

“I’m just happy to be here and to work hard and to hopefully get the kind of work that helps people, or at least gets the truth out,” he said. 

“Nightly News” airs at 6:30 p.m. in Detroit on WDIV Channel 4.

For more information, go to www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news.