Faculty Spotlight: Jeff Sharon (Course Director, New Media Journalism)

Jeff brings his years of experience in television news, reporting, and sports media to Full Sail’s graduate program.

Jeff Sharon wears a headset microphone and smiles at the camera. He is in an announcer’s booth with the UCF football stadium below him.

Full Sail University course director Jeff Sharon has always had a keen interest in the people, places, and things around him.

“I think I've always been curious,” Jeff shares. “I think curiosity is the number-one trait that anybody who works in the content business has to have.”

For 13 years, he has brought this curiosity to his students as an instructor in Full Sail’s New Media Journalism master’s program.

The University of Central Florida grad earned a bachelor’s in radio and TV with a broadcast journalism concentration. He then went on for a master’s in broadcast journalism from the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

“Growing up, I was always a ‘TV kid’ and later really got interested in sports TV,” Jeff explains. “I caught the bug and realized this is what I wanted to do.”

As an undergrad, Jeff got involved with the UCF student radio station and eventually became its sports director, assisting with live broadcasts of athletic events on campus and on the road in other states. He and his crew helped the station start streaming events online in the early days of this technology. He later interned with Central Florida News 13 (now Spectrum News 13) before becoming a full-time sports reporter and eventually sports director of WNEG-TV (now WUGA) in Toccoa, Georgia.

“I was able to get over the hill of anxiety over talking on television without a script,” he recalls. “I really enjoyed it… that little, small-town TV station stuff, you learn to fulfill a bunch of roles, and I fulfilled mine.”

A job opened up as a video producer and host for UCF’s athletic department, so he moved back to the Sunshine State to take it. He has since gone on to become the public address announcer for UCF football and men’s basketball games.

“For men's basketball… I sit center court, front row, and I get paid to sit there and scream into a microphone,” he says. “Everyone else in the arena pays to scream. And what a cool job. I've had to pinch myself every time.”

He has had opportunities to announce at Orlando Magic games as well. In addition, Jeff founded Black & Gold Banneret in 2015, a website focused on covering UCF athletics. The site was later acquired by SB Nation, which is owned by Vox Media.

As for Full Sail, it was Pat Bishop, the former Director of Graduate Studies, who encouraged him to throw his hat in the ring for a faculty position after he initially applied for a different role.

“I'm eternally grateful for her. I know she's retired now, but I'm really thankful to her every day for that singular act of kindness,” he says.

He began teaching for Full Sail in 2011 when the university launched the New Media Journalism master’s program, allowing him to lend a hand in the development of the curriculum. He has taught half of the classes in the graduate program, including New Media Publishing and Distribution, Multimedia Development and Editing, and Digital News Production.

“There are a lot of similarities between what I learned in my master’s program at Syracuse and what I’ve tried to apply to our program at Full Sail,” he says. “We do a really good job of getting students up to speed on the level of rigor required for journalists in 2024.”

According to Jeff, it’s critical to possess a wide range of skills working in news media today, from photography to videography to search engine optimization (SEO) to web design. He enjoys teaching courses on these skills to a diverse group of students.

“I love teaching because I love journalism. I get to see a little snippet of what's going on in different places throughout the country because our students are all [over], and some of them are abroad too. That is just… the coolest thing,” he shares.

And what does he find to be the most rewarding part of teaching?

“The students come back to me, [and] they're like, "Man, we worked hard in this course, but it was so cool to get out of my comfort zone, and I learned so much. And I got out there in my community and I talked to a bunch of different people that I never would've talked to otherwise.’ And I'm like, ‘That's the bottom line of what we're doing. We're trying to get you to see that there's a big world out there, and someone needs to tell everybody about it, and it [might] as well be you.’"