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After Two Decades, Two Emmys

Persistence Pays Off for Windsor Videographer

  • WMUR-TV videographer Chris Shepherd, of Windsor, in an undated photograph. (Courtesy photograph)

    WMUR-TV videographer Chris Shepherd, of Windsor, in an undated photograph. (Courtesy photograph)

  • WMUR-TV videographer Chris Shepherd, of Windsor, in an undated photograph. (Courtesy photograph)

    WMUR-TV videographer Chris Shepherd, of Windsor, in an undated photograph. (Courtesy photograph)

  • WMUR-TV videographer Chris Shepherd, of Windsor, in an undated photograph. (Courtesy photograph)
  • WMUR-TV videographer Chris Shepherd, of Windsor, in an undated photograph. (Courtesy photograph)

Twenty two years ago, Chris Shepherd graduated on a Saturday from Lyndon State College with a degree in communications and a concentration in video production; on the Monday after graduation he started a job as a videographer at WMUR-TV in Manchester. And for 22 years Shepherd has remained at the station, telling hundreds, maybe thousands, of stories with his camera.

That longevity, and dedication to the job, was rewarded earlier this month by the Boston/New England chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences with his first two Emmy wins for his camera work in the sports feature and interview/discussion categories.

The Emmys are now at his home in Windsor, where he lives with his wife, Michele. They have a daughter, 23, and a son, 18. And, yes, he commutes from Windsor to Manchester daily, which takes him about 90 minutes each way, and he’s done it for nine years, and, no, he has no plans to leave Windsor, or his job. Because he loves his job, and he loves the people he works with, and he’s reached a point in his career where he knows how to do his job really well.

His “passion for telling stories of all the people that we do interviews with ... is at the highest level now,” he said in a phone interview from Windsor. “I think you get to a point where you want to get to the next level at your career. Maybe this is the mark. When you work 22 years at what you do it’s nice to be acknowledged for that by your peers,”

He and his family lived in Rochester, N.H., for a number of years, but moved to Windsor because they wanted to be near his wife’s family, and because they wanted a smaller town experience for their children.

Shepherd, and the other members of the WMUR team, received their Emmys in a ceremony at the Boston Marriott Copley Place on June 3. They won for “Officer Doherty Returns to the Ice,” a story about Manchester police officer Dan Doherty, shot in the line of duty in 2012, who returned to the ice rink to play in the annual Battle of the Badges charity hockey game that benefits Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth. The Doherty story also won a 2014 regional Edward R. Murrow award in feature reporting in the large market television category.

Their second win came for a segment of New Hampshire Chronicle’s popular “Table for Two” feature, in which radio personality Greg Kretschmar, of “Greg and the Morning Buzz,” interviewed former New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch about life after politics. (Find links to the videos at www.vnews.com.) They were also nominated for a third feature, a N ew Hampshire Chronicle Christmas at the Rocking Horse Studio in Pittsfield, N.H., which did not win.

“There was some heavy competition and that’s why we were really stunned by winning these categories,” Shepherd said, noting that they competed in those categories against coverage of both the 2013 Red Sox World Series victory, and the Boston Marathon bombing.

“What I love to do is go out and tell everybody’s story locally. It’s in your community and gives your community voice. Every community needs that and it’s informative,” Shepherd said.

Given his 22-year record of service at WMUR, Shepherd has had time to ponder what’s changed in the world of delivering the news; In a word, e verything. The technology, the Internet, the speed with which news is gathered and dispersed. “We can shoot a story or interview and send that story out instantly. We can do it within five minutes.”

To guard against misinformation and error on the fly, Shepherd said, the key is to have experienced editors and managers who know what they’re doing and are not quick to squeeze the trigger when a story is breaking. Speed is demanded, but so is accuracy. These are skills learned on the job.

“When you first get out of school (it) prepares you for real world and then you go into the real world, and you realize you’re not really prepared for what happens in the real world, and the first few years you try to figure that out and all those other years, you’re polishing your craft,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd grew up in Brattleboro, and was raised by his mother after his parents divorced. He tells a story about the importance of persistence.

He was, he said, not the best student in high school. When it came time for him to think about college, he received no information from the high school guidance counselor. His mother went to the school to talk to the counselor, and asked him why her son hadn’t been advised about his options. The counselor informed her that he hadn’t bothered because, in his opinion, Shepherd didn’t have the grades to get into any college.

“That’s not your place to say so,” Shepherd’s mother sharply told the counselor. She pushed her son to apply to college, he got into Lyndon State, in Lyndonville, Vt., and two decades later has two Emmys to show for himself.

“It brought me full circle to prove to kids out there that if you work hard you can get what you want,” Shepherd said. “Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

Nicola Smith can be reached at nsmith@vnews.com.