When it comes to breaking into the media industry, connections can sometimes make a big difference.
For rising Carolina senior Blake Morgan, his foot in the door was CBS Sports Director Andy Freedman, a UNC School of Media and Journalism lecturer who taught Morgan’s live production class his junior year.
Impressed by the breadth and depth of skills Morgan gained through experiences at Carolina, Freedman referred Morgan for an opportunity to work as a summer production assistant on Fox Sports San Diego’s Padres game day broadcasts.
“This job wasn’t open; you can’t apply for it. It’s a referral system,” Morgan said. “It’s definitely a ‘knowing people’ business.”
The West Coast opportunity has proved valuable. Morgan has spent time with professional athletes and edited a lot of video, giving him firsthand exposure to a career in sports broadcasting.
Four years ago, Morgan wouldn’t have ever thought the opportunity was a possibility.
Morgan, who grew up in Asheville, North Carolina, didn’t plan on going to college because of the financial burden it could place on his family. He changed his plans when he learned about the Carolina Covenant, a commitment made by the University to give students from low-income families the opportunity to graduate debt-free. Becoming a Covenant Scholar meant Morgan is the first person in his family to attend college.
At Carolina, Morgan combined his interest in sports and a fascination with local news by studying broadcast journalism. He seized every opportunity Carolina had to get hands-on broadcast experience, participating in extracurricular organizations and getting experience in the campus broadcast studio.
“Every single day you’re getting reps, whether I was directing, anchoring or producing a show, you’re in the field getting a feel for it,” Morgan said. “I could just sit in the control room and learn every position in and out.”
By his junior year, Morgan was the executive producer for the School of Media and Journalism’s Carolina Week broadcast, and the director of Sports Xtra, a weekly sports-focused student show.
This summer, Morgan has worked in various roles on Padres’ broadcasts. He’s edited pre-game and in-game highlights, worked as the playback operator for pre-game and post-game shows, and even served as the associate director during a broadcast.
“The opportunities at Carolina prepared me more than I needed,” said Morgan. “I’ve been entrusted with positions that people wouldn’t get in their first year because they see that I know what I’m doing. They definitely trust me a lot because of my background at UNC.”