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10 Questions With Ole Miss Grad Terry Ewert

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Photo Courtesy of Terry’s wife, Robin Sandlaufer Ewert

Terry Ewert is a 1973 graduate from the University of Mississippi. He has had a very successful career in media production over the past 40 years. The Emmy Award-winning producer is currently back in Oxford teaching sports television production in The Meek School of Journalism & New Media for the fall semester. Ewert says he’s excited to be back; he sat down with HottyToddy.com to answer a few questions about Ole Miss and his career.

Hotty Toddy:  What was your favorite thing to do as an undergraduate at Ole Miss? what was your favorite memory?

Ewert:  You know I had a lot of them, I was in a fraternity and certainly that was a lot of fun. It was bizarre for me coming out of high school and then coming to a university.  I joined a fraternity and I have 120 or so automatic friends. Some are friends, some are not friends, but they’re the kind of people that look out for you and that’s just something that I wasn’t used to.

When I came in, it was Archie Manning’s junior year, it was his phenomenal year! I think all of us in the class that came in were all 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 my freshman year.

Hotty Toddy: So, how did you end up at Ole Miss?

Ewert: 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. My father had arranged that appointment and 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 wasn’t sure if I wanted to make the military my career so I promised him that if I got a scholarship to Ole Miss that 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).

Hotty Toddy: As an alumnus of the University of Mississippi, what kind of advice would you give to a soon-to-be graduate from the university?

Ewert: Well I think you should explore were 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 because I know it’s out there and if you really want to stay in the world of journalism, I think the opportunities are out there for people who really strive and want to get noticed or hired.

Hotty Toddy: So, how often do you come back and visit the University of Mississippi?

Ewert: 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, so I don’t get to visit down there often.

I always enjoy coming back and certainly there are great memories, I’m always impressed with how the university has grown a lot 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 as what Dr. Robert Khayat said, “A Great American Public University.”

Hotty Toddy:  What advice would you give to Terry Ewert the freshman?

Ewert: Well, I probably would’ve taken more courses in broadcasting when I was here because that’s the field that I went into. I really only took one and it happened to be a course in my field of study. I was a political science major, but I was also 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.

My very first job was in broadcasting, I was an on-air anchor and on-air sports director for KALB-TV in Alexandria, La., so I think I would have probably wanted to concentrate on more of the academic background in broadcasting, so that the learning curve wouldn’t’ t have been so high. I probably could have gotten a lot more out of Ole Miss at the time in the world of broadcasting.

Hotty Toddy: With working in such a deadline-oriented and sometimes stressful business, how do you balance out your life when you’re not working?

Ewert: Well, I have a wife and family; my children have always been an inspiration. They’re grown now but that was always my recreation, if you will, is to spend time at home and watch my children grow up — ust being a dedicated family man.

Hotty Toddy: Could you describe some of the biggest highlights of your career that were the most exciting to you?

Ewert: Well, 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.

Hotty Toddy: What was your first job after graduating from Ole Miss in 1973?

Ewert: Well, 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 and they had a sister station in Louisiana and 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.

Hotty Toddy: Were there any risks that you ever had to take in your career?

Ewert: I think moving to New York. I was at the KALB station for a year, and I was also 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, so I quit the job at KALB and with $600 to my name, I 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.

Hotty Toddy: 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?

Ewert: I think 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. It’s how to get along with other people and how to live with other people. 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.


Story contributed by Brandon Rook, Ole Miss journalism graduate student, bcrook@go.olemiss.edu.

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