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Douglas Ferguson

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Professor Douglas Ferguson


Former TV Executive Helps Lead Growing Communication Department
By Tiffany S. Glover

Dr. Douglas A. Ferguson is one of the more unconventional and interesting professors at the College of Charleston. He was the Department of Communication's first chair now serves as the program director of the department's new Graduate Certificate Program.

A former television station manager and programming executive, Ferguson provides his communication students with unique behind-the-scenes insights into our nation's most powerful news and entertainment medium.

A dedicated Buckeye, Ferguson earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees from in speech communication from The Ohio State University. He worked in the television industry from 1969-1987 and then he went on to receive a doctorate in mass communication from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. He started his teaching career at BGSU in 1990 and ten years later became part of the C of C family.

Ferguson says his passion for television came from being in front of the television all the time as a child. He was fascinated with shows like "Leave It To Beaver" and his fascination grew to be aspirations for a career in television. He would pursue acting but says since he wasn't good at acting he would try to work in TV in more of a behind-the- scenes role.

Ferguson would become program director and station manager at WLIO-TV, an NBC affiliate in Lima, Ohio. He was also the program director for a cable channel in Bay City, Mich., that carried local game shows, children's shows, sporting events, movies, and off-network syndication.

So what motivated Dr. Ferguson to go from working in television to teaching college students? "I spent the right 12 years in the television industry," said Ferguson. He believes that the end of hey day for broadcast is near. "It's like cable is a Mack truck and broadcast is the road kill," Ferguson said.

The opportunities in the television industry brought much excitement to his life. "I had so much fun being around show business and celebrities and loved going to the programming conventions," said Ferguson. Although he sometimes misses the fast-paced life, he doesn't miss the pressures of the industry.

As for the future of the entertainment industry Ferguson believes that television is forever. "People would rather be entertained than to entertain themselves," said Ferguson. He recalls visiting an impoverished neighborhood in Ohio to conduct some interviews and realizing how important cable television really is. "Some of the people didn't even have doors or floors, but they had cable," Ferguson said.

He believes entertainment is necessary but he's not too sure about the future of broadcast television. In his opinion, broadcast television needs some type of unique content other than news to keep them going or it is possible that they will be put out of business. He also believes that cable should be a public good and the government should issue cable stamps to everyone, meaning no one should have to pay for cable.

Being a television executive brought one type of excitement to Ferguson's life, but teaching brings another. He feels that the students he is teaching are the future of television. He enjoys teaching because he is teaching about a subject that he knows so much about. He's even able to use a book he co-authored: "Media Programming: Strategies and Practices" (7th Edition).

Some of his other writings include "Promotion & Marketing for Broadcasting, Cable, & the Web" (4th Edition), "The Broadcast Television Industry" and a number of journal articles. Ferguson's newest book, "Marketing and Promotion for the Media," will be out in January 2006.

Ferguson is currently the editor of Journal of Radio Studies and has a forthcoming encyclopedia entry in Jeffrey Arnett's Encyclopedia of Children, Adolescents, and the Media. He has traveled to places such as Las Vegas, Toronto, Tampa and New Orleans to present papers to professional societies about various television topics.

Students who have taken Ferguson's classes speak highly of his teaching style and are honored that he shares his expertise with them. "I am a transfer student at the college and Dr. Ferguson has been one of the most helpful professors I've encountered," said Cameo Jenkins.

For more information about Dr. Douglas Ferguson please visit www.cofc.edu/~ferguson/bcp