For Sellers Shy (BA 94), all it took to reach his dream job was a love of sports, hard work and persistence. The Emmy-award winning television producer got his start by volunteering at what was then the Danny Thomas Memorial Golf Tournament in his hometown of Memphis. Today, he helps to produce television broadcasts for CBS Sports —broadcasts that include such big events as The Masters, the SEC football Championship Game and the modern version of the event that started it all, The St. Jude Classic in Memphis.
Shy had been an avid golfer since childhood, and as a high school student volunteered at the tournament as a runner. He fetched donuts, set up tents and drove people around in golf carts. “Basically, you just do whatever they tell you to do,” he says.
A few years later, at Ole Miss, Shy majored in broadcast journalism and was part of a cadre of students who have since gone on to widespread success in the business. One of his fellow students, Sharyn Alfonsi (BA 94), is now a news correspondent with ABC News after having served a stint with CBS. Sandra Shaw (BA 96) recently filled in for Kelly Ripa on Live with Regis and Kelly. Shy attributes the success of this group to hard work and persistence.
“We were all similar,” says Shy. “We actually cared about it. If you don’t care about it you don’t spend that much time on it. But we all cared, and all wanted it done and wanted it done right.”
During summer breaks, Shy kept his connections at the Memphis golf tournament, continuing to volunteer while honing his skills in the classroom. He volunteered more and more often, offering to drive to other tournaments to help as well. In 1992, he drove to the PGA Championship. He took whatever volunteer work he could get just to keep his name in the game. He participated in amateur golf tournaments to gain credibility with people on the tour. By 1997, it paid off when he was offered a job by CBS.
Shy was also fortunate to begin his career with the best in the business. “I came in on the backs of the greats,” says Shy. “People like Frank Chirkinian were still working. Frank kind of invented golf on television. There was Pat Summerall and Ken Venturi. There was Lance Darrow. He’s still here today and he has kind of taken me under his wings. When Lance was doing what I do now, he had just finished producing his second Superbowl and his 13th Masters. So he wasn’t a bad guy to grab by his coattails.”
In 2005, Shy was part of the production team that won a coveted Emmy award for “Outstanding Live Sports Special” for CBS’s coverage of The Masters. “It’s very rewarding when you’re putting something together like The Masters and know that 100 million people watched what you did,” he says. “When you know it is watched by millions of people, and you had something to do with that, it makes you feel good. Walking out of the truck on a Sunday night makes all the time being away from home and missing your kids, it makes it all somewhat worth it.”
Today, after having relocated to New York for a number of years, Shy is back in Memphis with his wife and three kids, still traveling to golf tournaments all over the country. These days, he’s in the production truck, compiling historical footage on the fly to enhance the broadcasts, coordinating commercial breaks and producing replay coverage. And maybe, every once in a while, he’ll still fetch some donuts.