Jackie “Jack” Stophel visited the Central Texas College campus on Monday while visiting Killeen for a 50th high school reunion to discuss working in TV and radio with students aspiring for careers in communications and media technology.
Faculty and students gathered in the KNCT studio (Building 109) for Stophel’s presentation during an Intro to Electronic Media class taught by Sean Greenthaner. The discussion was held in the same studio Stophel learned in when he attended CTC almost 50 years ago to get a degree in telecommunications.
“Oh, yes. The building had just partially been built. We didn’t have anything; at the time, we had very little equipment to work with,” Stophel said when asked if the CTC campus had changed much since he attended nearly five decades ago.
“It all started here, in this room,” Stophel said.
During his talk, Stophel discussed his career and life in radio and television, much of it working backstage for CBS as a camera operator. He discussed how to work in the field successfully; career development wisdom; realities of the job schedule, competition, egos and pressure for perfection. He also gave an historical account of the operations, systems and equipment in radio and television; and elaborated on the importance of working with others, taking pride in your work, and not being afraid to take risks or make mistakes. At the end of his talk, the floor was opened for a Q&A session.
“Don’t be afraid. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes here,” Stophel encouraged the CTC students. This is the time you learn, experiment, and move forward, he said.
After graduating in 1972 from Central Texas College, Stophel worked at KERA-TV in Dallas for five years, then moved to Seattle where he was laid off from work at a post-production company after only two and a half months.
He said after he was laid off, it was his willingness to take a risk and fly to California on just the possibility of landing a job that resulted in the job at CBS in 1977. During that time, not only was he unemployed and on limited finances, he was father to his 2-year-old son.
“All things are possible. Which means, if you want it bad enough, you can get it. But, you have to want to get it,” Stophel said.
Stophel worked on several big-name shows including the “The Young and the Restless,” “MASH,” “The Carol Burnett Show” and “The Price is Right.” He has also worked in “CBS Sports” and “CBS News.” He was a member of national telecast crews for several Super Bowls, NFL championships, auto-racing and golf tournaments, and other big sporting and live events.
Stophel also met and worked with many well-known sports and TV figures and iconic sportscasters to include John Madden, Pat Summerall and Verne Lundquist. During his career, Stophel was able to interview marine conservationist and Aqua-lung inventor Jacques Cousteau and famed NASCAR driver, Richard Petty. Stophel ultimately accepted a supervisor position with CBS in 1988 and worked the position for 20 years until he retired. He currently resides in Thousand Oaks, California.
Stophel is also a Killeen High School alum. It was during his time there, he said, that he discovered his desire for a career in radio and television after working backstage during theater productions.