Martin Zied, a 1974 graduate of Penn State and successful television producer/director/writer was at Penn State Abington on March 2, sharing stories of success in the television field which he attributes to his Penn State connection. Zied told of hard-work, perseverance, focus, the perils of travel, meeting deadlines, dealing with celebrities and taking risks. With five Emmy Award statuettes decorating his Chestnut Hill home, success is definitely his reward.
"It's a great thrill for me to be back on the campus where it all began," Zied said of his college life, which began at Penn State Abington. He relayed stories of Vietnam War student protests, of intramural softball games, of a way-too-early-in-the-morning class and even of a classmate who swam naked across the duck pond.
Not knowing what he wanted to choose as a major or career, Zied credits two events on the Abington campus as the "light bulb going off … this is what I want to do" moment.
First was a friendship with another student, a Vietnam veteran who had a job as a disc jockey at a country western radio station in center-city Philadelphia. A visit to the radio studio opened Zied's eyes to the possibility of a career in entertainment. Speech 200, a class in which Zied had to give two speeches during the semester, also was a major influence in his successful career.
"What I learned from Speech 200 is a skill that I've taken with me for the rest of my career. It taught me to be comfortable speaking in front of a roomful of people. I can't tell you how many hundreds of times I've had to do that as a communicator, TV producer, director a journalist. That was the most important class that I took."
Zied continued, telling the story of how he got and moved up in his first job at a Philadelphia television station -- again something he attributes to his affiliation with Penn State. Starting as a cameraman, Zied learned the ropes and then moved on to produce talk shows, and direct.
As a freelancer, Zied has worked for network television as well as cable networks. He produced/directed multiple episodes of CBS's hit show, "48 Hours Mystery," and produced numerous stories for ABC's news magazines, "20/20," and "Primetime." Zied also served as senior producer for MSNBC's long running biography series, "Headliners & Legends with Matt Lauer."
According to Zied, the most important television work he's done so far in his career is what he produced in relation to the events of September 11, 2001, and its aftermath.
"I felt like that was the most important work I would get to do in television -- showing the viewing audience what we were seeing, what people were experiencing," he said.
Throughout Zied's presentation he shared with the students in the audience details of what it takes to be successful.
"Perseverance -- make 50 phone calls, if you have to; don't take rejection personally, take risks, hang in there, deal with a lot of curve balls, find a vision and be passionate. I hope you all can find a vision for something that you will be passionate about."
Near the end of the presentation, Zied relayed a story about how his Penn State connection helped him while covering a high profile murder in Williamsport, Pa.
"The moment that the authorities found out I was a Penn State graduate, I was welcome. They no longer thought of me as a network, highfalutin, New York producer."