By David Pavlak
Sometimes, what you plan to do in life doesn’t always pan out. As any good pitcher knows, a curveball can be a good thing as long as it is effective. The same theory can be applied to life. Mark Burghart, a recent Rider Masters of Business Administration graduate is currently a producer for CBS, helping coordinate and stream major pieces that are seen by a national audience. His rise to the top wasn’t conventional; however, as he has spent time doing many different things.
“I started in ‘96, kind of by networking,” Burghart said. “I met people and they took a liking to me. I started as a runner; I did that for a few years. Then I was able to become a broadcast associate, which is basically doing graphics and that sort of thing; such as the score on the bottom of the screen or information on a particular player. Then I got the opportunity to be an associate director and associate producer. I did that for quite a while and then most recently I have had the opportunity to be a producer.”
As a producer, Burghart’s duties vary day-by-day.
“Basically, producing events in the truck, live events and going out and shooting features,” Burghart said. “It’s like the whole gamut, producing one-hour shows, doing live events and doing features. It’s varied what I get to do and the opportunities I get.”
Burghart, who got his undergraduate degree in psychology and business administration from Villanova University, and his masters from Rider, didn’t foresee his future being in a television truck, but he doesn’t mind it either.
“I always liked sports,” said Burghart. “That’s what kind of led me to CBS. I honestly wanted to work with the PGA Tour in operations and that’s what led me to the TV side. It’s not exactly where I wanted to be, but sometimes life takes you in directions you don’t really intend to go. However, due to interests and opportunities that someone gives you, you get an opportunity to do something. Sometimes we go to school for one thing and end up doing something totally different. That’s how it turned out for me.”
Burghart has had the opportunity to produce items for the NCAA Final Four, Tour de France and many other high-profile sports shows. For something as nationally seen as the Final Four, Burghart has to put in a lot of hours to see his piece come out right.
“What I do during the tournament is that I shoot features,” said Burghart. “On Monday we come up with an idea and then it is decided where I go. So, I will go out and interview people, players, family members, coaches and teammates and then try to make that into a story between three to five minutes that airs on CBS that next weekend. So I have five or six days to go out, research the story, shoot the story, edit the story and then hopefully have it approved by my superiors.”
That’s not to say it doesn’t come with the stress that is constantly associated with the TV and sports industry.
“I’ve found the more I have gotten to be at CBS the less stressful it has become,” said Burghart. “You get a familiarity with things and that familiarity breeds some type of understanding of what the expectations are. When I was younger at CBS, I wasn’t sure what was next and how to prepare, so that was more stressful. As time went on, I’ve gotten to be more competent in what I’m doing and understood the job. It’s always stressful, but it’s not as stressful as it used to be.”
Still, even with all the stress and struggles that you would expect a CBS producer to experience, the job has many perks, many that Burghart has been able to partake in.
“The Tour de France was something I always wanted to be able to do,” said Burghart. “I had done golf for a few years and in 2001 I was given the opportunity to do the Tour. I did that for eight years and it was a great experience to spend most of my summers traveling around France and following Lance Armstrong. [I also was] getting a chance to do the NFL, NCAA basketball, golf, meeting famous golfers, Formula 1 racing in Europe. The Tour de France was always thrilling for me because it was my first opportunity to really go to Europe and it was just a different sport that the U.S. isn’t really familiar with, but it was interesting to be a part of.”
Still, as Burghart comes back to speak to the adults pursuing their MBA, his message remains the same.
“The thing to remember and what I always try to remember is be as efficient in as many areas of the company as you can, because then you are indispensible,” he said. “If you can do a lot of things, that makes you more valuable than if you are just prolific in one area. The more things you are capable of doing well, the more they are going to keep you and promote you and move you up the ladder. Just be willing to learn and understand different areas; it makes you invaluable.”