WCU alum takes knowledge learned in Cullowhee to Turner Broadcasting

It didn’t take long for Joe Mullins, a 2008 Western Carolina University graduate, to apply what he learned in Cullowhee to a job in the “real world”.

Mullins graduated from WCU in May of 2008 with a B.S. degree in Broadcast Communications and a minor in Broadcast Sales. In June 2008, he was hired as a Multi-Platform Distribution Specialist at Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta, Ga. – a job he still holds today.

Mullins explains his day-to-day duties as taking digitally recorded television feeds and fixing them so they can be watched on anything that is not from a regular cable box.

“In essence if you watch anything from CNN, HLN, TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, TruTV or NBATV on an iPhone, Android, iPad, VOD box, or anything that is not your normal cable box, me or my team is providing you with that content,” Mullins said. “We manipulate video and meta-data to transcode and upload to cable, fiber and satellite content providers.”

When asked how WCU prepared him for his job, Mullins did not have to think long at all.

“Western, unlike many of the other broadcast schools in the country, focused on the engineering and operations side of the broadcast industry during my time there,” Mullins said. “Since then, they have begun to focus more on the creative and production side.”

He said that knowing the operations side to broadcasting helped him get his job because the pool of people that have the operation and engineering side to broadcasting knowledge is smaller than the creative pool. Though, he is not sure if he would have changed his mind between operations and creative broadcasting if he had been given the choice. During his senior year at Western, Mullins said he was also able to get a certification through a special course with the Society of Broadcast Engineers that many of his colleagues still have not acquired.

Despite his successes with Turner Broadcasting, Mullins said he is still misses his days working in the Student Media Department at WCU on the radio with WCAT and TV62 – where he was station manager. He also worked with the Communication Department’s Power 90dot5.

Mullins still finds time to work on his own shows today, albeit not as much.

“I work on my own shows and videos in my garage and office now which makes me miss having the teams of people together working through the night to edit down a cooking show, news show or a sports event we just recorded while trying to get it to air in the morning,” Mullins said.

He also spoke of how at WCU he was able to experience different job careers because of the freedom allowed to college students, and how that changed his goals.

“In college you get more freedom to mess up and try new things. I thought I wanted to be a radio engineer until I got the chance to build up TV62 years ago,” Mullins said. “I fell in love with all the volunteers and extremely low paid people all working with their passion to get a product out for the campus to see.”

When asked what advice he had to give to students currently at Western, Mullins said, “Students going into this field need to quit screwing around in college and get some work done. Your degree is not going to get you a job. The only thing that is going to get you a job is hard work. I missed out on the typical ‘college experience’, I did not go to parties every weekend, compete in intramural sports, or anything like that. I worked.”

He added that WCU students have many opportunities to learn and experiment in Cullowhee and students should take full advantage of those opportunities.

“I graduated high school with a 1.0 GPA and couldn’t get into college. I took remedial courses at a community college just to get to WCU,” Mullins said. “I came to WCU when my high school friends were graduating from Appalachian. I could not afford it, but took out loans and worked four jobs on campus. I graduated in three years with a 3.5 GPA.”

Mullins hopes to return to college soon to obtain a masters degree and eventually teach at the university level.