Terry Ewert (’73) has had a successful career in media production during the last 40 years. The Emmy Award-winning producer was back in Oxford during September, teaching a five-week sports television production class.
Under his direction, journalism students have partnered with Ole Miss Athletics for the first time, to produce live coverage of the women’s volleyball match against Arkansas. Ewert also worked with Dr. Bradley Schultz, a long-time broadcast journalism professor.
Senior Morgan White, a student in the class, said, “Mr. Ewert has been amazing, and I’ve learned a lot… and I’m going to use it in the future. ”
“Now, I feel like I have a better foundation if I do feel like I want to go into production or even on air. The live webcast of the game was streamed on RebelVision at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27.
Ewert answered a few questions about Ole Miss and his career:
What is your favorite memory of your time as a student at Ole Miss?
I had a lot of them. Coming out of high school then coming to a university was bizarre for me. I was in a fraternity, and I have 120 or so automatic friends. Some are friends, some are not friends, but they’re the kind of people who look out for you, and that’s just something that I wasn’t used to.
When I was a freshman, it was Archie Manning’s junior year, his phenomenal year! I think all of us in the class that came in were caught up with the great football and national attention that we were getting with Archie that football season.
I think the fraternity, working at the sorority house and certainly my classwork were my best memories. Oh yeah, and the football season that freshman year.
So, how did you end up at Ole Miss?
When I was in high school looking for a place to go to college, I had been appointed to the U.S. Air Force Academy. I wasn’t sure at the point that I wanted to be a career officer in the military. I was always a service brat; we moved from place to place; my father was in the Air Force. I promised him that if I got a scholarship to Ole Miss I would take ROTC. Indeed, I did get a scholarship, and I ended up at Ole Miss and took ROTC at least for the first year (laughs).
As an alumnus of the University of Mississippi, what kind of advice would you give to a soon-to-be graduate from the university?
You should explore where you want to be. I think this school of journalism has a very good reputation, and I think the best thing to do is choose your steps wisely and reach out to every different media outlet, newspaper or whatever direction you want to go in. Try to find your niche. If you really want to stay in journalism, the opportunities are there if you really strive and want to get noticed or hired.
How often do you come back and visit?
Not very often, unfortunately. I travel a lot on my job. I have my own production company where we have to do a certain amount of hours and certainly the Big Ten Network keeps me busy as well. I live in the New York area, and I always enjoy coming back. I’m always impressed with how the university has grown and how it’s more diverse. I think that’s the important step this university made years ago, and it continues to this day. I think it’s getting to be what Dr. Robert Khayat called it, “A Great American Public University.”
What advice would you give to Terry Ewert the freshman?
I probably would’ve taken more courses in broadcasting when I was here. I really only took one. My very first job was in broadcasting. I was an on-air anchor and on-air sports director for KALB-TV in Alexandria, La. I should have concentrated more in broadcasting so that the learning curve wouldn’t have been so high. I was a political science major, but I also was in speech and theater. I took Broadcasting 101, and I wish that I had pursued that another semester or even further. There were very rudimentary courses at the time, and eventually that whole system moved to where it is now, a school of journalism. I probably could have gotten a lot more out of Ole Miss at the time in the world of broadcasting.
With working in such a deadline-oriented and sometimes stressful business, how do you balance out your life when you’re not working?
I have a wife and family. My children have always been an inspiration. They’re grown now, but to spend time at home and watch my children grow up was always my recreation — just being a dedicated family man.
Could you describe some of the biggest highlights of your career that were the most exciting to you?
I was a senior production executive for three Olympic games, two for NBC sports and one for the Atlanta Olympics. My former executive producer Don Ohlmeyer said, “If you ever wonder how good you are, do an Olympics,” and I did three of them. The first one was the Olympics in 1988, and I did the broadcast side. In 1992 for Barcelona I did the cable side. Lastly for 1996 I did the overall. I actually worked for the Olympic Committee. I got to experience all sides of Olympic coverage, and I think that was fulfilling, but I think working as an executive producer at CBS sports for six years and doing the Master’s, NCAA basketball tournaments, SEC Championship games, doing a multitude of other things with the NFL and doing the PGA tour were really the highlights of my career.
What was your first job after graduating from Ole Miss in 1973?
It’s funny because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had worked the year before between my junior and senior year at WJTV in Jackson, Miss. I needed a summer job and they had cameramen positions open for those who were on vacation relief, so that is what I first did.
That was kind of the seed, and I went back to the station after I graduated. They had a sister station in Louisiana. As fate would have it, they were looking for a sportscaster. I talked a lot of SEC football with them, and they liked that. They auditioned me, and I got hired. So my first job was being an on-air anchor and sports director at KALB.
Were there any risks that you ever had to take in your career?
Moving to New York. I was at the KALB station for a year, and I also was an actor while I was at Ole Miss. I was into speech and theater as well, so I did a lot of the plays. A group of theater friends were moving to New York, and they asked me to come with them. I quit the job at KALB and, with $600 to my name, moved to New York. That’s all I had. I ended up on the streets of New York. I hated it while I was there because I was struggling, and within three months I got a commercial, and I thought it was easy, and for six months after that I didn’t even get another callback.
That’s when I decided to become an NBC page and from an NBC page, I just worked my way up through NBC to NBC Sports. I was there for 18 years. The biggest risk I took was quitting everything and moving to New York City.
What did you learn at Ole Miss that has helped your career get to where it is today? Was there a specific professor or experience?
The biggest thing most individuals learn in college is how to live with other people. You lived with your family your whole life through high school, and that’s kind of a sheltered existence because there’s someone that’s always looking out for you. When you come to any university or college, you have to get along with other people, and it’s a great social experiment that you don’t even know that you do. You have all this freedom, but you have to go to class. You have to get all your work done. You’ve got to get good grades, and you’ve got to progress through the four years. So, the great social experiment of living with other people and being around other people was the greatest takeaway from this university because this university was very nurturing with the staff and the teachers.
A version of this story was originally published on HottyToddy.com.