Former student’s broadcasting career began at WCU

Paul Turner, a UNC Asheville graduate who got his start at Western Carolina University, now thrives as a television broadcaster in Philadelphia, Pa.

Before transferring to UNC Asheville, Turner attended WCU from 1986 to 1988 and majored in Radio Television. While reminiscing on his time in Cullowhee, Turner said it was hard to move away from the university.

“I grew up in the area and I thought it was just a beautiful part of the country,” Turner said. “I thought it was an amazing place that had everything you need.”

He added that he misses living in a place that allowed him to experience the small town feel, yet still have access to a city as big as Asheville.

While Turner felt the area had a positive effect on his college experience, he also recalls professors who helped him realize his dream of being a television broadcaster. Turner mentioned Richard Gainey who was head of radio TV department, J.C. Alexander who taught broadcast ethics, and John Williams who worked with him in the radio program as influential figures while at WCU.

Although his professors directed him, Turner said the experience with the college radio station (Power 90.5) helped him the most with his current career. He was given the opportunity to learn about his career even before graduating college.

“The hands-on experience they offer really puts the college above and beyond,” Turner said.

After speaking with many college students around the country who were not given the opportunity to work hands-on, Turner praises WCU for their unique programs and encourages students to take advantage of them.

While Turner currently resides in Philadelphia, he has returned to his hometown near WCU and is surprised at all of the changes that have taken place on campus over the years. The last time he returned to the WCU area was in 2007 for a high school reunion.

“I was blown away by all of the changes I saw on campus,” he said. “I think the changes will attract more students and make it develop into a major university.”

Before settling into his current career, Turner jumped from different jobs such as a disc jockey on a radio station and doing voiceovers for Fox Sports. Turner began an image work company in 1991 and has since lived in cities such as Detroit and Tampa . He considers himself lucky to have been successful in his new career early on.

“I met the right people and was able to latch onto a career in the beginning,” Turner said.

As he remains with his own company, Turner also receives exciting and sometimes odd audition proposals from his agent in New York.

“I get to audition for things I’ve never done before, such as a cartoon,” Turner said.

One of the most exciting jobs he had was being the voice announcer for the Howard Stern Show. He enjoys all of the diversity his job exposes him to. He adds that other than the constantly changing opportunities, his job allows him to have a flexible schedule that he can adjust to his needs.

After discussing all of the positive aspects of his career, Turner said that “every job has a con if you look hard enough.”

He says that the hardest part of a performance career is that you have to put on a happy face at all times. Even if you feel sick or something, Turner said that you have to act like everything is alright when you perform.

While Turner was forced to move for his career, he says advancements in technologies now allow broadcasters to work anywhere—even their own basement. He was required to move to be successful and adds that he had to be next to a metropolitan city at the time in order to have the technology to work. Now, broadcasters can obtain the necessary equipment such as a microphone and a computer to hold a successful career.

Wanting to advise students who are leaning towards a career in television broadcasting, Turner said “the best thing to do is to get some experience, you need to have a sense of what the job requires of you”.

He also encourages students to be strong and patient in the beginning as they are moving around and jumping from different jobs.