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Bryan West Is in His ‘Dream Job’ Era

Bryan West once jokingly wished he could report on Taylor Swift every day. Now that's his reality.

Taylor Swift and Bryan West stand next to each other against a backdrop of golden curtains. Swift’s hand is resting on West’s shoulder. They are both smiling at the camera.
Bryan West met Taylor Swift at a meet-and-greet during Swift’s Reputation tour in 2018 while he was working for NBC in Phoenix.Image: Courtesy of Bryan West

By Paulina Freedman
Spring 2024

When Bryan West left journalism in 2018, he joked to a friend that he would only come back to news if he could report on Taylor Swift every day. Five years later, his dream job is a reality.

It’s me, hi

“I honestly thought it was a joke,” West ’11, a longtime Swift fan, recalls. When he saw the job post for a full-time reporter to cover Swift for The Tennessean and USA Today, he immediately put together an application, including a video with 13 reasons why he should be hired — namely his love of Swift’s music and his familiarity with the Swiftie fandom. In October 2023, after two months of interviewing, he got the call of a lifetime.

West was on a racetrack in Austin, Texas, at the time. “I love Formula One racing, and I was working as a [course] marshal,” West says. “If there’s a crash anywhere on the course, I’m trained to clean up debris and make sure drivers are OK.” In between races he got a call from his now-boss, Ben Goad, news director for The Tennessean. “And I could tell from his voice,” says West. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I think I got this position.’”

West was right. Out of hundreds of applicants, he had been chosen. “I couldn’t really speak because we had two minutes until the next race, so I whispered, ‘Thank you so much. Can I call you later? OK. Bye.’ And so that’s how I got [the job].”

Bryan’s version

West transferred to Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications in 2008 from Gonzaga University. He did his journalism residency at the NBC affiliate in Phoenix, which hired him as a producer following graduation. He worked his way up to broadcast reporter, winning a couple of Emmys and an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University award along the way, before taking a break from journalism to focus on his mental health.

When he applied for the Swift reporter job, West knew his Medill education would give him a leg up on the competition. “Northwestern prepared me for this because it makes you a true one-man band, multimedia journalist,” he says. In his new position, West utilizes both his knowledge of print journalism and his video production skills, a foundation he built at Northwestern. 

Never go out of style

West never has to worry about a lack of content to report on. “The fun of this position is not knowing what [the] day is going to bring,” he says. So far he’s covered everything from soaps inspired by Swift’s music to the star’s relationship with Kansas City Chiefs player Travis Kelce. “I had never watched the NFL in 35 years,” West admits, “except for the Super Bowl — for the commercials. Now I’m watching football every single weekend, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m a fan.”

Swift is known for making surprise announcements about new music and live performances, meaning that, at any given time, West might have to drop everything for a story. “You just never know what’s going to happen,” he says. “She really, in an exciting way, kind of controls my life. 

There are plenty of big things on the horizon for West, including the rest of Swift’s Eras Tour, which will continue through the end of 2024, as well as the possibility of Swift entering her “cinematic era,” as the singer has expressed a desire to pursue film. West is also interested to see what her political influence might be this election year. “She’s always encouraged her fans to vote,” he says, “so is she going to make a statement? Is she going to endorse a candidate?” Anything is possible.

Count to 10, take it in

The day that his new job was publicly announced, West went on a hike in Percy Warner Park in Nashville, Tenn., a location Swift also frequents. He reflected on the lyrics to “Fifteen,” one of his favorite Swift songs, as he looked out at the city that is now his home after relocating from Phoenix. In the song, Swift sings, “Well, count to 10 / Take it in / This is life before you know who you’re gonna be.”

“I thought, ‘This is such an incredible moment to sit and take this in and just really enjoy it,’” he says. “I never thought this would be possible, and I truly am living a dream job that I am grateful for every day.”

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