BETHANY, W.Va. – A Bethany College alumnus was part of the MSNBC breaking news coverage as Russian troops invaded Ukraine.

Cody Kohlman ’19 served as the master control operator as the invasion unfolded and as the network decided to continue its live coverage into the early morning hours on the East Coast.

“When you’re in the room everything feels so small, but there were millions and millions of people watching that,” Kohlman said. “After I left and saw the [audience] numbers, it was like, ‘Oh, wow I was in control of what they were seeing.”

As a master control operator, Kohlman monitors and records television broadcasts and stays in contact with the directors at 30 Rock from his location in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

“We’re there to make sure that things don’t go downhill and we don’t go black – that we’re getting the news out to those who need to hear it,” he said.

Kohlman said he watched the events unfold from the outside for about an hour before taking his position in the control room as his supervisor was in and out of the room while the station made decisions about coverage.

In addition to MSNBC, the coverage also aired as part of NBC News Now on the Peacock streaming app.

“This is a historical moment that I was part of,” Kohlman said. “I have the Peacock app on my phone and when I got the alert about it being live on NBC News Now, I took a screenshot – that was like the one souvenir that I got from that, if you want to call it that.”

Kohlman earned his degree in communications from Bethany and began working with CNBC about four years ago through a connection with another alumnus, JP Silk, technical operations specialist for NBC Universal.

Kohlman arrived at Bethany wanting to learn about production. He had an early work-study job with the campus TV station airing old moves, vintage Bethany sporting events and original content through DVDs. He eventually became station co-manager with Lillian Knight ’19, who now also works with NBC Universal.

(The Bethany duo also were station operation managers for NBC’s recent coverage of the Olympic Games in Beijing.)

Kohlman also served as on-air talent at Bethany, a role he said he fell in love with.

Though his career puts him in the operations realm, he still feeds his creative side first with his own podcast and now by helping out friends who are content creators.

“I didn’t really know that that’s where I would be put in the world,” Kohlman said of becoming a master control operator. “The opportunities I found at Bethany – no matter how big or how small – I was able to apply to my job. … To have that opportunity at Bethany was something special.”


Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.