Part 1 of 3
The American dream is alive and well. Brazil native Eric Shanks is a prime example that people can still be successful and reach the top with hard work, dedication and determination.
In February, Eric, a three-time Emmy award winner for production at FOX Sports, was appointed senior vice president of Advanced Services and Content at DIRECTV which is the nations leading digital multichannel television service provider. He will oversee DIRECTV business activities related to the development of DIRECTV receivers and advanced services such as digital video recording (DVR), interactive television and high-definition television (HDTV).
"DIRECTV is an alternative and superior choice to cable," Eric said by phone from his Los Angeles office Aug. 26. "We offer 225 all-digital channels and give a better product usually at a lower price.
"And we're growing rapidly. We've added a million new subscribers in the last six months. We should be offering Terre Haute stations on DIRECTV within the next 12 months."
Eric began his sports television career as a broadcast associate at CBS Sports in 1993 while a student at Indiana University. He joined FOX Sports in 1994 for its inaugural season of the NFL with the production crew.
Through acquisitions of a major stock purchase, DIRECTV became a new division of News Corporation, the same company that owns FOX Sports. With four other FOX employees, Eric went over to help run DIRECTV to make it more of an entertainment company rather than just a distribution company.
"DIRECTV is still young," Eric said. "We were brought in to help them grow and introduce new products and services. I'm excited to be joining a company that has always been at the forefront of technology."
Eric has always been interested in both sports and technology. The 1990 Northview High School graduate played football, baseball and wrestled at his alma mater. Football was his favorite. He was named All State honorable mention for defense and offense in football his senior year.
The son of Pat and Jack Shanks, Eric was scholastically talented, too, and he knew early in life the career path he wanted to take.
"From his sophomore year on, Eric said he wanted to work with telecommunications," his mother said by phone from her Florida home recently. "He worked for The Brazil Times doing pictures in the morning before school. And he helped with sports and some other articles. He also worked at the Brazil radio station when it was on the White Rock Road."
Eric likes the production end of telecommunications.
"I can't say I've ever really wanted to be on camera," he said. "I was in one play in high school. My introduction to the Thespian world was an Agatha Christie play. I guess they didn't think I'd be very good. I played a dead guy."
Tomorrow: Eric drops out of college and into a dream career.