During an Oct. 20 award presentation, the executive producer for WUSA9, a CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C., challenged his fellow alumni and current students “to build a space for people who are not like you.”
Scott McCrary ’00, an Emmy and Murrow award-winning television producer, was recognized on Oct. 20 with the School of Communications’ Outstanding Alumnus Award. In his role as executive producer for WUSA9, TEGNA’s flagship CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C., the Elon alumnus oversees the editorial process and creation of the station’s daily 6 and 11 p.m. local newscasts.
McCrary was celebrated during the school’s Homecoming festivities, which featured a networking session with students and graduates in Snow Family Grand Atrium, followed by an alumni social at The Oak House. School of Communications Dean Kenn Gaither introduced McCrary to attendees, noting “Scott’s rise as an award-winning producer began here.”
To see photos of the awards ceremony, visit our Flickr album.
Gaither then detailed McCrary’s on-campus activities as an undergraduate, referencing his service in Elon Student Television, the Society for Professional Journalists, and the Radio Television Digital News Association (formerly the Radio-Television News Directors Association). In the decades since, McCrary has spent time in several prominent control rooms and newsrooms, including “CBS Evening News,” “Face the Nation,” “CBS Mornings,” CNN and Bloomberg Television. He also served as the producer on the team that launched “Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien,” the country’s No. 1 syndicated public affairs news magazine program.
For his efforts, McCrary has collected five Emmy Awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, three national Gracie Awards from the Alliance of Women in Media Foundation, and six Edward R. Murrow Awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association.
Gaither noted that McCrary’s 2017 Emmy for news coverage of an unsolved murder of a marine is displayed in the lobby of the McEwen Communications Building.
“Scott’s sustained professional success makes him an obvious choice for our alumnus of the year. But it is more than that,” Gaither said. “Scott has given generously of his time and his talents. He is a supporter of Elon and Elon students. Since 2005, Scott has returned to campus annually to speak to students and present in classes. He has mentored countless students, and helped many of them get their starts in broadcast news.”
While McCrary helps inform one of the East Coast’s major metropolitan areas, he is also well known for his abilities as a teacher and mentor, coaching and developing anchors, reporters and producers, and tutoring staff at fellow TEGNA stations. Additionally, he has regularly recruited Elon graduates and current students to join his staff.
In recognition of his many contributions to his alma mater, Gaither welcomed McCrary in September to the school’s national advisory board.
While accepting the award, McCrary gave a moving recount of his career and his own personal struggles, before offering a charge to his fellow alumni and current students in attendance.
“When I left this campus 23 years ago, I had all the tools I needed to succeed in the news industry,” he said. “I had a job – my parents were thrilled. But I didn’t have a long-term plan because I couldn’t see a future for myself.
“When I entered this crazy business, I didn’t work for openly gay executive producers and news managers,” McCrary added, alluding to himself, an openly homosexual newsroom leader. “For some of those people, it wasn’t safe to come out. Others never got a chance to lead because AIDS took them from us too soon. I have been mindful of that every single day.”
In his leadership roles, McCrary said he has immensely enjoyed constructing diverse newsrooms, finding strength from having different voices and backgrounds. He takes pride in these efforts.
“One of my greatest passions in the newsroom is building – whether I’m building a relevant broadcast, a strong team, or a healthy culture,” he said. “I also really enjoy building new spaces. I didn’t see a place for anybody like me in this industry when I left this university – so I built one. And as I worked for bigger stations, bigger shows, bigger titles … I kept building more spaces for people who didn’t look like me, people who didn’t present like me, people who didn’t think like me. And it has done nothing but improve the quality of the work that we have done. So, my challenge to all of you is to build a space for people who are not like you either. The communications field needs that right now.”
Among those who credit McCrary for their start in the broadcast news industry is Jack Norcross ’21, a supervising producer at WCNC Charlotte. Following the completion of his first year at Elon, Norcross landed an internship in summer 2018 with WUSA9, a role he owes to McCrary.
“It wasn’t far into my freshman year at Elon when I first heard about Scott McCrary, and it quickly became clear he was always just and email or phone call away,” Norcross said. “We quickly established a bond. He had faith in me and helped to secure an internship at a Top 10 TV station right after my freshman year. It was an opportunity that led to where I am today. And it’s a relationship that didn’t end there. To this day, Scott is a resource for me and dozens of other alumni looking to succeed in the industry.”
Prior to receiving his alumni award, McCrary visited two sections of News Reporting and Writing classes, as well as Assistant Professor Lorraine Ahearn’s Reporting for the Public Good course. He also participated in a luncheon with students interested in working in the news industry.
Alumni-student networking session
Nine alumni participated in the school’s informal networking session with students, titled “Don’t be a Stranger to Networking.” Students and alumni discussed internships, careers, classes, clubs and other topics. The alumni participants included:
- Steve Autore ’16, client performance manager, Hearst
- Lauren Belk ’21, partnership marketing coordinator, Stewart-Haas Racing
- Cade Colgate ’06, national partner manager, Pure Storage
- Brett Cooper ’05, senior vice president, SWAY
- Mary Cunningham ’08, associate director of marketing and communications, College of Public Health, George Mason University
- Morgan Hack ’23, account coordinator, 5W Public Relations
- Scott McCrary ’00, executive producer, WUSA-TV
- Jordan Roman ’15, story & editorial coordinator in animated features, Netflix
- Anna Zwingelberg ’18, senior consultant, Deloitte