Oscar R. Pope, creator, mentor, friend and a revelatory alum of the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media, passed away unexpectedly in June at the age of 32.
To honor his life and legacy, his friends and loved ones have established the Oscar Pope Memorial Scholarship to benefit future School of Journalism and New Media students majoring in Integrated Marketing Communications.
The Terry, Mississippi native began his four-year journey at the University of Mississippi as an art major with an emphasis in graphic design. He also double-majored in broadcast journalism. He became a production manager for Rebel Radio, a news anchor for NewsWatch in the student media center, and the visual editor of The Daily Mississippian.
According to an alumni profile, Pope accepted a position as an advertising coordinator at a sports publishing firm in Atlanta after graduation. He later joined the Atlanta-based startup Scoutmob as an advertising executive for four years before landing at Creative Loafing Atlanta as a multimedia marketing specialist.
His career path eventually led to Turner Broadcasting as content marketing coordinator of the NBA on TNT and NBA TV at Turner Sports. He handled consumer-facing creative messaging and branding for both networks in addition to NBA.com.
MacKenzie Ross, who served as the editor and creative director for the latest edition of the UM School of Journalism and New Media’s student-produced edition of The Review magazine, worked with students who interviewed Pope about his career for the publication. The following is a Q & A with Pope that student Wade Griffin compiled.
The Turner Sports family mourns the loss of our very own, Oscar Pope.
Q & A With Oscar Pope
By Wade Griffin
Q. How has your education from Ole Miss helped you get to where you are today?
A. I double-majored in graphic design and broadcast journalism, so my days at Ole Miss look a lot like they do now and are just as multidisciplinary. What used to be running from a three-hour design studio class to shoot a news package for my JOUR 480: Advanced Broadcast Reporting class is now running from creative briefings to production and program meetings. The education and wide range of experience I received at Ole Miss prepared to me to wear many hats, without hesitation, simultaneously and effectively.
Q. Can you give me a brief description of your job duties?
A. I manage all consumer-facing creative, messaging and branding for NBA on TNT, NBA TV and Turner Sports podcasts. My team is responsible for driving viewership of live games, original programming and key NBA tentpoles, including NBA Tip-Off, NBA All-Star and the NBA Playoffs across both networks. My team is also responsible for building and executing go-to-market content and creative strategies.
Q. What is a favorite memory from your time in your current job?
A. There are so many favorites, and many include our “Inside the NBA” crew, but the memories that mean the most are the ones where we’ve been able to tell purposeful stories at the intersections of sport, community and culture. My favorite would have to be writing ‘Dear Chicago’ for NBA-All Star 2020.
The NBA was making its first All-Star return to Chicago since 1988, so I found it imperative that we redefine how the world viewed Chicago. ‘Dear Chicago’ was written and produced in partnership with Bleacher Report as a three-part vignette series – highlighting the convergence of basketball and community and telling the stories of the people, the places and culture that define Chicago.
Through this series, we were able to give basketball fans an opportunity to experience what makes Chicago a beacon of culture and not defined by negative headlines, but rather a rich quilt of neighborhoods, each with its own identity and native heroes – athletes that have transcended sport and artists that create with a homegrown purpose. The entire series is available at dearchicagotnt.com
Q. Is there a professor who made an impact on them as a student? What is their name and why/how?
A. There were many professors who had a profound impact on me as a student and beyond. You’d be hard-pressed to find better design professors than Ginny Chavis and Paula Temple. Marvin Williams and Garreth Blackwell were critical in my growth at the J-school.
The two professors that made the biggest impacts on me were Nancy Dupont and Laura Antonow. Dr. Dupont taught with such a passion for broadcasting, and it was absolutely infectious. After my first course with her, I knew I had to be in or around the broadcast industry in some capacity.
I believe I took at least four courses with Professor Antonow, and I would’ve taken more if possible. She had an energy that was palpable and her courses were open forums of dialogue and engagement which greatly contributed to my academic and personal evolution.