The head of technology for the NBCU owned stations, Jeff Morris says being involved in TV-related tech was something he wanted to do ever since he was a kid. “I always had a big interest in TV in general and very strong inclination towards technology,” he says. “So when I had a chance to put those two together, I jumped on it.”
That chance came during college. While studying communications and film at Boston College, he had a fellowship in the communications department that led to a job with ABC News and a quick immersion course in TV news technology. “ was an election year,” he says. “I was hired in June and on the road by the middle of July for the next six months,” as a junior technical manager, working on campaign coverage, the debates and eventually the inauguration of president Bill Clinton.
Soon, Morris was also showing the kind of innovative skills that would lead him to a Technology Leadership Award. While at ABC, he spearheaded a project to take their affiliate news service ABC News One from a linear, satellite-based service to a non real-time file transfer system. “Now they all do it that way, but in 2001 it was a very innovative approach,” he says.
In 2003, Morris moved over to the digital side. Here he built the technical infrastructure for ABC News Now broadband network and was eventually responsible for managing the technical and operational side of such digital properties as ABCNews.com, ABC News on Demand and ABC News Mobile.
That digital expertise was quickly put to work at the NBCU owned stations. When he joined the group in 2008 as VP of technology, he was put in charge of implementing what would become groundbreaking workflows to expand the company’s multiplatform delivery of content. “It was my first job there and a very challenging project, but with the workflows we put in place, we have really allowed the stations to produce once and publish to many places,” he says.
In May 2013, Morris was promoted to the top tech spot at the 10 NBC owned stations, where he oversaw technology, sales and traffic operations, environmental health and safety and FCC compliance. In August, he was promoted to his current post, where his duties were expanded to also include the 17 Telemundo stations and its cable news channel, NECN.
Since taking the top tech job, he has also overseen some major upgrades, including new facilities for stations in Dallas and Los Angeles. These upgrades feature innovative high-tech sets, new approaches to automation and media asset management and much better monitoring technologies. “We want to become much smarter in terms of how we manage our technical plants,” he says.