When he was 9 years old, Belo VP of Technology Craig Harper
followed a friend's older brother to his workplace at KWTX Waco, Texas. From
that day forward, his career path was set. "I completely, totally fell in love
with television," says Harper, who began reading Broadcasting magazine when he
was 14. "I literally hung around 'WTX until I was old enough for them to hire
Harper learned broadcast engineering as a teenager, putting
in long hours in Waco with his sights set on Dallas' WFAA, the big-city
station he had grown up watching. "I realized early on that WFAA was the gold
standard," he says. "Of all the TV stations I had ever seen, WFAA was
absolutely the best, and still is."
Harper joined the station in 1990 as news operations
manager. In 1997, he moved to WFAA parent company Belo Corp., where he worked
with technology veteran Bob Turner to run the company's corporate engineering
department. Harper helped facilitate the station group's efforts at the
forefront of digital television. Belo owned five stations when Harper arrived,
but an era of rapid expansion followed, and with it an increased focus on
Belo's ability to share content across what is now 22 stations.
In 1998, Harper helped lead the country's DTV transition as
WFAA went on the air as the first VHF digital signal. A year prior, Harper had
overseen an exhibit at the State Fair of Texas in which more than 100,000
people saw an 11-minute 1080i HD highlight video of the Dallas Cowboys' Super
Bowl XXX victory. He also spearheaded Belo's early adopter DTV programs in
conjunction with testing in Houston, Dallas and Seattle.
KATRINA: THE BEST OF TIMES
But the man who has won Emmys and a DuPont Award says the highlight of his
career was working in New Orleans after
Hurricane Katrina and ensuring that Belo's New Orleans station, WWL, stayed on-air,
broadcasting vital information to viewers in the horrific days following the
deluge. "I still believe we are a trustee of these airwaves, of this spectrum,"
Harper adds that he has worked with "great teams" at Belo,
but it's as likely that his success can be attributed to a passion for the work
and the company that has employed him for most of his professional life.
"[It's an] absolute dream come true for me to come to
work for Belo because this company stands for so many things that I believe
in," he says. "I still drive in every morning, and when I see the Belo
building, my heart beats a little faster."