Profile: Pete Smith
Ask associate communication professor Pete Smith what he likes most about his position at Mississippi State and without hesitation he'll respond that it's the interaction with his students. Along with that love for the teacher-pupil experience, he also is deeply passionate about his research and sharing his personal excitement for discovery with those in his classroom.
A biographer of controversial 1950s broadcasting icon Gertrude Berg, Smith shares his knowledge of media history/biography and film criticism to show students how the business of television and film entertainment, and the content that is produced, has relevance—and permanence—in life.
"When I discuss the process of 'showrunning,' taking the students through the steps of developing a television show from the initial idea pitch to production, I use Gertrude Berg as an example of one of the first showrunners," said Smith, who currently teaches Introduction to the Mass Media, Mass Media and Society, and Elements of Persuasion.
Those in the classroom are not the only ones who benefit from Smith's enthusiasm and insight. He literally has traveled from coast to coast bringing to the forefront Berg's rise to stardom and eventual entertainment industry "blacklisting" for her stand against McCarthy-era anti-communist hysteria. He is the author of "Something on my Own: Gertrude Berg and American Broadcasting, 1929-1956," (Syracuse University Press, 2007). Appearing on panels at the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles and the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, he has been invited to Chicago this fall for a Northlight Theatre Company production based on Berg's life.
Smith, a native of Morton, is an MSU graduate who said he is very fortunate to be teaching in the department where he was enrolled as an undergraduate. He holds a master's degree from Auburn University and a doctorate from the University of Southern Mississippi.
"Those closest to me, the family and friends who have been around me for 20 years or more, know what an important goal that was—the chance to come back home. It wasn't always the easiest road traveled, but the fact that I am here, and my passion for all things MSU, is something I hope I never take for granted," he said.
Next week … Misty Booth !