When she was interning on “Fox & Friends,” Joanna Preston would travel eight hours back and forth on a bus from Washington, D.C., to New York four times a week.
But nothing was as nerve-wracking for Preston as meeting Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes.
“I was nervous and wanted to hide,” Preston said today, as she became one of four graduates of the Ailes Apprentice Program, a diversity education program founded by Ailes nine years ago.
“You must’ve heard about my reputation,” Ailes quipped.
Preston, now a production assistant on Fox Business’ “Varney & Co.,” was one of four graduates of the Ailes Apprentice Program, which began in 2003. She was joined by Sarah Kader, a new media producer at Fox News Insider; Terrell Brown, a production assistant on the media desk; and Stephen Hernandez, an ENG field technician.
Each year, a new group is selected, pairing an “apprentice” with a “mentor.” It’s a one-year program with the opportunity to move into a full-time position at its conclusion. It offers hands-on training, comprehensive mentoring, and development seminars, as well as personal meetings with Ailes. The event Thursday featured a keynote speech from former Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder and a speech from advertising pioneer Roy Eaton.
“I had this idea for the apprentice program 10 years ago because I saw many young minority people in our intern programs, but we couldn’t find them after the summer was over,” Ailes said in a speech at Fox News’ New York headquarters this morning.
“I said, ‘Where did those kids go?’ They were good. … So we created the access so that they had somebody inside that they could talk to and call. … And once the access was created … every single one of them for the last nine years has performed.”
Ailes sincerely thinks is important, and one that he believes all media companies should model. One example of its success is in 2011 alum Bryan Llenas, who is now an on-air reporter for FOX News Channel and FOX News Latino.
Sitting next to a makeshift stage during the ceremony, Ailes beamed as all four graduates gave their speeches. They all each thanked him only before they thanked their mothers and/or fathers.
“I hope all businesses follow this lead,” Ailes told Business Insider after the event. “But it has nothing to do with me. Believe me. I can’t do anything about my reputation. Guys like you will decide that. I will just do what I do, and it will all work out.”
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.