A WCU studio engineer wins an Emmy for his work in Beijing


Western Carolina now has three Emmy Award winners on the payroll, including John E. Wells, studio engineer for the university’s School of Music. Wells served as an edit systems maintenance engineer for an NBC team recently honored by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences with a Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Technical Team Remote in recognition of its coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Team members executed the largest high-definition remote broadcast ever attempted, and the Olympics became the most-watched program in the history of television.


John Wells shares a light moment with Beijing NBC staff
members during the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Wells now shares an Emmy bond with Bruce Frazier, WCU’s Carol Grotnes Belk Distinguished Professor of Commercial and Electronic Music who twice has been recognized by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Emmy for contributions to dramatic underscore and sound mixing for television programs, and Jack Sholder, director of the university’s motion picture and television production program, who won an Emmy for his editing work on “3-2-1 Contact.”

“It is a special honor to be recognized on a national level for what I do,” said Wells, a resident of Sylva. “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. “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 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.