Ward collects 14th Sports Emmy

Published 5:18 pm Friday, June 21, 2024

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NEW YORK, NY – Hard work, determination, and keeping an open mind to new ideas often leads to success.

John A. Ward II, the winner of 14 Sports Emmy Awards, is a native of Gates County. File Photo

Those intangibles have led a country boy from rural Gates County to hear his name called once again at the annual Sports Emmy Awards.

For his work as a supervising producer, John A. Ward II collected an Emmy here May 21 at the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) 45th annual Sports Emmy® Awards. The gala ceremony was hosted by The Kid Mero and presented live at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall in New York City.

Ward was part of a team recognized for their work in the category of Outstanding Interactive Experience. Their winning entry was for Event Coverage Optionality/Customization for Thursday Night Football, broadcast by Amazon MGM Studios on Prime Video.

The Emmy was the 14th of Ward’s career.

Ward, a 1987 graduate of Gates County High School, attended Chowan College (now Chowan University) before transferring to NC State University where he graduated in 1991 with a degree in radio/TV/film.

From there, Ward found a lifelong mentor in another Gates County native, TV/movie producer Beth Polson. He moved to Los Angeles. His first big break came in 1993 when he was hired by a fledging new TV network – Fox.

While with Fox, Ward branched out to perform some freelance work, first with Pat O’Brien, formerly with CBS Sports. That sports connection led Ward to his next big step up the ladder – the National Football League, of which Fox acquired a portion of the broadcast rights. It was O’Brien’s recommendation of Ward to a Fox Sports producer that sent him to the next level.

Not too long after Fox launched its NFL coverage, Ward formed a bond with David Hill, the right-hand man of legendary Fox founder and owner Rupert Murdock.

In 2000, Hill gave Ward his first big test, sending him to England to oversee the start-up of NFL Europe. Upon his return to the United States, Hill sent Ward out on another project, one that would land him back in the Tar Heel State where Fox was just starting its relationship with NASCAR and wanted to develop a NASCAR channel based in Charlotte. Ten months later, the SPEED Channel was up and running.

In 2004, Ward started Fuel TV, another Fox Cable Channel that featured action sports as its main content, including Surfing, Wakeboarding, and Skateboarding.  That same year he worked on the road as a Technical Producer for NFL coverage, working with Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Chris Collingsworth. He went on to work three Super Bowls, 10 World Series, four Stanley Cup finals, and multiple Daytona 500s during his 12 years with Fox Sports where he moved from Broadcast Associate to Production Supervisor to Director of Production.

It was during that time frame that Ward won 11 Emmy Awards for work on NFL, MLB and NASCAR events.

He got the chance to witness, on location, three major sporting events…a baseball game in 1998 when Mark McGuire broke Roger Maris’ single-season home run record; the 2001 Daytona 500 where Dale Earnhardt died on a last-lap crash; and the halftime show of the first Super Bowl played after the 9-11 attacks on America, one where the names of all victims of that tragic day were displayed on a curtain while U2 played on stage.

When Murdock purchased DIRECTV, Inc. in 2004, one of the most logical choices to move that new acquisition forward was Ward. His work there began in 2005 to start-up an original entertainment division, which included NFL Sunday Ticket and the 101 Network, a 24/7 entertainment channel.

But of all his success, Ward has never forgotten his roots.

“I wouldn’t trade growing up in Gates County for anything. The core values and beliefs instilled in you from an early age can carry you throughout life. It’s kind of the same way in the business world, you treat people around you right and they will remember that. If you carry yourself that way, you’ll never go wrong,” Ward said in an earlier interview.

Winners at last month’s event were presented in 46 categories, including Outstanding Live Special and Live Series, four Documentary categories, Journalism, Public Service Content, and Esports Coverage, Outstanding Studio Host, Event Analyst, and Emerging On-Air Talent, among


About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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