SUNY Canton
Bob Hughes

Capturing the Gold

Robert M. Hughes '75

Robert M. Hughes ’75 lives life in the fast lane. He knows precisely the right camera angles to film Olympic luge, bobsled, and skeleton racers speeding over 80-miles per hour down a sheer ice track.

As the co-founder of Carr-Hughes Productions in Saratoga Springs, he has managed high-profile sporting event television production for clients such as NBC Sports and ESPN, including the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics.

In contrast to so-called “reality television” shows, Hughes argues that athletic competitions are the only truly unscripted programs, which require production decisions to be made rapidly without any hesitation. “In this business, you need to be a self-starter with the ability to learn and do things on the fly,” he said.

“I think the key to a college education is not the details you learn, it’s the willingness to learn.”

When producing an event, it’s their job to get people intrigued and connected through a storyline. “We are storytellers. Most people watching these events are not die-hard fans,” Hughes said, pointing out that many viewers will turn the channel within the first two minutes of a show if they aren’t interested. “We must engage you, grab you and keep you.”

Hughes, who was an Automotive Technology major while attending SUNY Canton, said the College was instrumental to his success.

“I think the key to a college education is not the details you learn, it’s the willingness to learn.”

After graduation, he was a competitive luge athlete and went on to coach the 1984 U.S. Olympic luge team in Sarajevo before moving to television production. He returned to SUNY Canton in 2011 to talk with students in the Graphic and Multimedia Design program about what it takes to be successful in television production.

According to Hughes, persistence and a lot of effort are needed to get a foot in the door, but being successful in the field is not easy. “It’s a lot of hard work, early mornings, and late nights that keep producers calling for your work. But hard work is always rewarded. The best get called first every time.”