Professor Spotlight: Brian McFadden’s series of fortunate events
Photo Courtesy of Farmingdale State College
“I devoted my entire existence into being a reporter, and after two years I started to feel the drain, which was a challenge because I went to school thinking this was what I was going to do for the rest of my life,” said Brian McFadden, a professor of mass media studies.
Raised in Bay Shore, New York, McFadden applied to universities that were within a commutable range, and ultimately decided to attend Fordham University for both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in media studies.
“When I was applying to school, I remember there was no rhyme or reason as to what I was looking for,” McFadden said. “I wasn’t looking at any academics and applied to Hofstra and Fordham just because they had a radio station.”
McFadden joined Fordham’s radio station as a beat reporter for local sports, where he would broadcast, produce and engineer content. During his senior year, McFadden applied to and worked for SiriusXM Satellite Radio as a sports broadcaster covering the Mets and Yankees while wrapping up his undergraduate degree and beginning his master’s.
It was during that time in 2007 that McFadden first gained interest in media theory and considered teaching to be a viable career path.
“I was having difficulties finding places to work because as an adjunct, you’re not just working at one school. You have to piece together a bunch of different existences to make enough money to make it worth it to you,” McFadden said. “And I had zero experience that would make someone think I could be a good teacher. Then, out of the blue, Suffolk Community College hired me to teach fundamentals of communication and a public speaking course.”
“I began to get jobs, but it was all accidental. Dowling [College] hired me because a teacher who typically taught for them came down with a chronic case of the hiccups and couldn’t get rid of them. Farmingdale hired me because my letter just happened to be there and they needed someone.”
However, McFadden recalled that his first encounter with Hofstra was the funniest.
“When Mary Anne Trasciatti was head of the rhetoric department, I sent her an email saying I wanted to speak with her and at the end of the interview she said something like, ‘Your mother mentioned you would be reaching out to me,’ and I said, ‘I don’t think you’re talking about the right person because my mother is a nurse.’ She said something along the lines of, ‘Oh, well I like you anyway, so I’m going to hire you to work in this department.’”
In Fall of 2011, McFadden attended Temple University for graduate school but faced a commute much longer than he had anticipated. At the time, his then-fiance, now wife, had just moved back to New York after finishing law school in Massachusetts. Not wanting to continue a long-distance relationship, McFadden opted to commute from his Manhattan apartment to Philadelphia four times a week via BoltBus.
McFadden married in the spring of 2012 and undertook his current position as associate adjunct in mass media studies, which he accredits to Carol Fletcher, a professor and chair of the journalism, media studies and public relations program, in 2015.
“I was introduced to him by Professor Drucker, who runs the mass media program here and I was immediately impressed with how current he was,” Fletcher said. “He was enthusiastic, his research was interesting and he connected well with his students.”
Although McFadden could not fully understand why he was initially hired, faculty members that made his acquaintance at the start of his career saw his inner potential.
“I remember thinking he was very energetic and very bright and he has a great sense of humor,” Trasciatti said, an associate professor of writing studies and rhetoric. “He seemed liked someone who could roll with undergraduates. It can be challenging to teach young people and you need someone that is strong but flexible. He is strong but flexible and [it was because of] that combination of characteristics that I thought [he] would make a great faculty member.”
“It was a series of a bunch of random occurrences that had me working at a bunch of these schools,” McFadden said. “I realized that I’m a better teacher than a journalist.”