Growing up the son of third generation banker in a small Eastern Kentucky town, the thought of doing anything but going into the family business never crossed my mind. Sure, I loved television and film, but the concept of actually working in this field never occurred to me. So I spent my first three years at Georgetown College as a business major and would probably be a banker today if not for an impossibly hard Business Calculus class and some good advice from a friend. The summer before my Senior year, she told me “Joel, you’re a story teller, you need to tell stories.” That day, I changed majors, enrolled in film and acting classes and never looked back!
After graduating college, I spent an amazing year working as a professional actor for the Lexington Children’s Theatre, where I was fortunate enough to perform for thousands of children and their families across the state. I’ll never forget my first time on the professional stage; I was playing the part of Mr. Kraler in the Diary of Anne Frank. The role called for me to enter the stage through a door that was at least 2 feet below my head, walk up some stairs and deliver the line “You must be more quiet!…more quiet.” After braining myself on the low doorframe, I stepped onto the stage. Unfortunately, an intern had forgotten to install extra support in the second step and my large frame was too much for the single nail to withstand. The step crushed beneath my foot and I was completely thrown! Luckily, a seasoned actor named Adam Luckey was playing the part of Mr. Frank and saw my predicament. He grabbed me as I was falling, whispered in my ear that everything was ok and to breathe. I took the stage, gathered my thoughts and with an accent found only in the deepest hollows of Appalachia said, “Ya’ll gotta quiet down!” Several of my fellow actors actually laughed out loud! I was humiliated, but the kind staff at LCT thought enough of me to not send me home that very day, and I will forever be grateful. I may have taken the first step to being a performance artist, but Larry, Miss Viv and the rest of the LCT’ers gave me the map!
After my time on stage, a documentary film I had produced as a graduate project found it’s way to WYMT and I was brought in to their production department. Soon, I was directing Mountain News at 6 and Nightwatch, our 11pm newscast. I was also writing and editing commercials and promotional spots. Within a couple of years, I was named Promotions Director and Special Projects Producer, a position that I still hold. With this, I am responsible for station promotional commercials and most of the shows produced in house that are not news products. Telethons for Hope in the Mountains, The Red Cross and Buckhorn Children’s home, half hour specials for The Big Sandy Senior Games, basketball tournaments, football games and the like are all projects I’ve tackled at WYMT.
In the fall of 2009, I began preproduction on a new and exciting project for WYMT called From These Hills. FTH is an Appalachian culture and heritage show that focuses on positive, uplifting stories on the people and places our viewers know and love. And some that they’ve never heard of! This has been, by far, the most difficult and the most rewarding project I’ve undertaken at WYMT.
As for my personal life, I have been married since 2007 to a beautiful middle school science teacher named Tracie who rejected me several times for a date in high school. Fortunately for her, she saw the error of her ways after we graduated college. We have a son named William Fredrick III that we call “Tripp” and another on the way. Having a wife and kids has been the most wonderful experience of my life and I only want to trade them in every other day or so.
In the seven minutes of spare time that I have each day, I love to watch movies, especially horror films! I cook as often as I can and write not nearly as much as I would like. Along the way, I’ve made a couple of short movies that weren’t terrible and earned a Masters Degree from Morehead State University.
I couldn’t be happier to be a member of the WYMT family and look forward to bringing our viewers the best possible television product for years to come. And thank all of you for watching! Without you, there would be no Mountain Television.