Studio Engineer Earns National Emmy for Olympics Work

John E. Wells, studio engineer for Western Carolina University’s Center for Applied Technology, recently won an Emmy award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Wells served as an edit systems maintenance engineer for an NBC team that was honored with a Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Technical Team Remote in recognition of their coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. They executed the largest high-definition remote broadcast ever attempted, and the Olympics became the most-watched program in the history of television, said Wells, a resident of Sylva.

“It is a special honor to be recognized for what I do on a national level,” he said. “I am very fortunate and very, very grateful. I was part of an extraordinary team. Everyone that I worked with in Beijing was incredibly helpful and brought something special to the effort.”

Wells, who has experience as a technical consultant for audio and video firms, was invited to work five weeks in China assembling and operating temporary edit suites where camera feeds from Olympic event venues were assembled into five- to 30-minute segments.

“Anytime something broke or wasn’t working right, they would call me to the edit rooms to fix it,” said Wells, who worked 12- to 20-hour shifts in China. “When it was all over, I broke down the rooms.”

Highlights for him included having an up-close view of Olympic moments, such as watching Shawn Johnson win gold on the balance beam, Michael Phelps win his fourth gold, and closing ceremonies. They also included the opportunity to explore China – sampling dumplings and Kung Pao shrimp, and visiting the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.

Before joining the WCU staff five years ago, Wells served as technical consultant for firms such as Sony Electronics. He was part of the engineering staff that designed and built the state-of-the-art studios in WCU’s Center for Applied Technology. As WCU studio engineer, he maintains equipment and functionality and assists faculty and students using the recording studio and edit rooms.

For more information about the CAT studios, check out Wells can be reached by phone at (828) 227-2733 or by e-mail at