Watson has played a big role in coordinating the student-run ESPN+ broadcasts. PHOTO CREDIT: Paige Messier

Over the past couple of years, the Harrington School of Communication and Media has made it a priority to improve it’s broadcasting capabilities. 

First, it was the introduction of the sports media and communication major. Then, it was the unveiling of the state-of-the-art Broadcast Center inside Chafee Hall. Now, the school has added one more thing to that list––someone that will help students find opportunities to turn these new resources into practical experience. 

John Watson, the new coordinator for sports multimedia, comes to the University of Rhode Island with years of experience working in both broadcasting and sports production. 

Over the course of his career, Watson has worked multiple Super Bowls, World Series, Stanley Cups and Olympic Games. Watson spent the last 35 years working for WJAR, the NBC affiliate in Providence, and worked with ABC, CBS and ESPN as a freelancer. He was also a part of the team that laid out all of the fiber cables, which help transfer data from one location to another, throughout the Ryan Center when it was first built. 

Watson’s new title is a position that has been in the works for a couple years now, according to Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations Shane Donaldson. 

“It took probably two to three years of planning and working with folks at the Harrington School,” Donaldson said. “John’s position is actually split between athletics and the Harrington School. Starting this spring, he’ll actually teach a course at the Harrington School.”

The course that Watson will be teaching this spring is FLM 220: Topics in Intermediate Film Production, which will focus on remote sports production. 

Despite his years of experience, Watson said he can relate to the students in one way––the amount of questions he has been asking over the last two months.

“I have found that I have a lot more questions than answers,” Watson said. “With that being said if I ask any question, I have more than enough people around to help me out with answers, [and] everyone has been more than supportive.” 

Watson emphasized just how helpful his peers have been as he enters his new position, whether it be answering his questions, or helping him organize his upcoming course. 

“I had to put together my syllabus, and I haven’t had to do that in years and, of course, I had to ask for help for that,” he said. “The sports [media] department over here has been more than helpful with that.” 

Watson’s ultimate goal is to continue getting more students involved and putting together more elaborate productions. 

“We started out with two cameras on soccer, and now we moved on to a third camera,” he said. “Hopefully next year once we get a little better trained, we’ll move over to maybe [a] five camera production. The productions will become more elaborate as people become more available and trained.”

Watson’s hope is that these new opportunities will help students get jobs in the industry after they graduate. 

Watson highlighted one student who has been able to use his experience with the ESPN+ broadcasts to land a job with Cox Media. 

“We have one student that has been working with Cox,” Watson said. “He started off doing camera, then replay. He has just put himself into basically every production he could be a part of and because of that, Cox has offered him some freelance work as an editor.”

With his presence now at URI, Watson hopes students will be able to learn from him and put these lessons into practice through student-run broadcasts on ESPN+ and beyond.