Tom Llamas, Anchor, ABC News “World News Tonight”
Tom Llamas has spent his career chasing breaking news, hurricanes, and Donald Trump. Llamas set the record for most air time by a network correspondent during the 2016 election. Having worked in newsrooms since the age of 15, both in English and Spanish, he’s the very definition of an intrepid reporter.
He spent the early 2000s covering politics, specifically the 2004 election including the campaigns of the Rev. Al Sharpton, John Edwards and former Sec of State John Kerry. The beginning of a long and fruitful relationship with all things political that lead all the way up to the 2016 Presidential Election. Llamas spent the intervening years earning his bonafides as a local reporter in his hometown of Miami, before moving back to New York City as an anchor and investigative reporter. Once there, working for both NBC and ABC, he earned both Emmy and Edward R. Murrow Awards for his anchoring and reporting and covered a myriad of groundbreaking stories — Hurricane Sandy, the Vegas and Parkland mass shootings, the trial of the Boston Marathon Bomber, and his first love, politics. Llamas also led ABC News coverage of Hurricane Harvey anchoring the entire week from Houston.
But, as Llamas himself will tell you, underlying this hard-fought rise was the painstaking sacrifice that allowed it to happen. His parents, both Cuban immigrants who fled political persecution, undertook a potentially fatal journey — along with many other young, terrified refugees — solely so that their children might one day see the success that Llamas has. His recounting of their journey, along with his own and those of millions of others like him, strikes at a universal, emotional truth behind the sacrifices immigrants have made in the hopes of a better life for themselves and their families.
Tom Llamas is an Emmy award-winning journalist, anchor of ABC News “World News Tonight” weekend editions, and Chief National Correspondent reporting for all ABC News programs and platforms. During the 2016 presidential race, Llamas covered the vast field of GOP candidates and Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign for two years. His tough questions and memorable exchanges with President Donald Trump led to some of the defining moments in the election. While at ABC, he also covered the Parkland shooting, the Las Vegas shooting, the Boston Marathon Bombing trial gavel to gavel for the network and was one of ABC’s lead reporters covering the Ebola crisis.
Llamas has been recognized with several awards and honors throughout his career, including Emmy awards for “Best Anchor” and “Best Hard News Story” in 2013. In 2012, he won two regional Edward R. Murrow awards for feature and hard news reporting and was also part of the WNBC team that won the Murrow for breaking news coverage of Hurricane Sandy in 2014. Llamas was honored with the prestigious “El” award by El Diario in 2012, the country’s oldest and largest Spanish-language newspaper. In 2015 the National Association of Hispanic Journalists awarded Llamas with the Presidential Award of Impact.
Llamas began his career in broadcasting in New York with the NBC News Specials Unit during the 2000 Presidential election and then moved to MSNBC. In his first two years at MSNBC, he worked on coverage of the Sept. 11th attacks and the war with Afghanistan. He went on to work as a political campaign reporter, covering the Presidential & Vice-Presidential campaigns of John Kerry and John Edwards, respectively.
In 2005 he moved to WTVJ/NBC6 in Miami. While there he reported on the Virginia Tech massacre to Washington to cover Pope Benedict XVI’s 2008 trip, Llamas traveled all over the country and the Caribbean to deliver breaking news and investigative reports for the weekday newscasts. During his 4 years at the station, he covered eight hurricanes, most notably traveling to Biloxi when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.
In 2008, as a reporter for, Llamas became the first and only TV journalist ever embedded with the Coast Guard during a human smuggling interdiction at sea. The Emmy award-winning story documented how Cuban refugees are smuggled into the U.S. via “Go-Fast” boats and the Coast Guard’s mission to intercept these vessels.
Prior to joining ABC News in 2014, Llamas was an investigative reporter and anchor of the 5 p.m. newscast at WNBC-NBC4 in New York. He also served as a contributing correspondent at NBC News. While based in New York for five years, Llamas covered a wide range of major news stories including Hurricane Sandy, the Boston Marathon Bombings, Miracle on the Hudson, the Times Square Bomb Scare, and the Earthquake in Haiti.
Llamas was born and raised in Miami after his parents fled from Cuba during the 1960s. He graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans with Bachelor of Arts degrees in both Broadcast Journalism and Drama and Speech. Llamas also completed a program at the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, which focused on Raul Castro and Cuban-American voters. He currently resides in Manhattan with his wife, two daughters and their new baby boy.
This event honors of J.N. Heiskell.