While he is part of what marketers once dubbed “The MTV Generation,” Joe Rice’s preference when he was growing up in Sterling Heights was to watch game shows, sitcoms and sports. But the thought that someday he would work at a television station and win three local Emmys never crossed his mind.
“I knew I loved watching TV,” says Rice, who teaches marketing at Macomb’s Center Campus, “but it wasn’t until I did my internship at Fox 2 that I fell in love with the behind-the-scenes world.”
Rice earned a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications management from Western Michigan University (WMU) and the internship, which constituted the last three credits of his program of study, turned into a full-time job that lasted 12 years. It was, he says, “a lot of fun,” and it wouldn’t have happened if his boss hadn’t, “moved to Colorado to make ski movies.”
Moving into the role of WJBK Fox 2’s promotions manager, Rice was involved in every aspect of the promos designed to attract viewers to the station’s local broadcasts. It was a perfect blending of analytics and creativity, two of the three hallmarks of the marketing profession, with “people,” he says, constituting the third. If one of his students can find “a home” in one of those areas, he tells them there is a career for them in marketing.
At Fox 2, one of Rice’s specialties was writing creative 20-second advertising spots. “You knew when you nailed it,” he says, “and it felt good.”
Working closely with the on-air talent and the behind-the-cameras staff, Rice appreciated the teamwork that went into each broadcast. The station paid for him to return to school and he earned a master’s degree in management, with a concentration in marketing, from Walsh College. But as the broadcast industry underwent yet another transformation and he grew weary of the daily commute to Southfield, Rice began looking for something closer to Sterling Heights, where he and wife Dottie, who he met when both were in WMU’s marching band, were raising daughters Julia and Annie. Macomb was hiring marketing professors and he was in the market for something new.
Rice joined Macomb’s faculty in 2005. And although many of the people he worked with at Fox have left the station, he still visits the Southfield studio at least one a year to see what’s new in the industry. It’s one of the many ways he stays current in a field that is constantly changing.
“Monique (Doll, marketing professor at South Campus) and I are committed to bringing the practical side of marketing into what we are teaching in the classroom,” offers Rice. “Talking to students about what they want to do is one of the best parts of my job. They have a lot of great ideas, and I learn so much from them.”
When Rice first started teaching at Macomb, one of his colleagues advised him that he now had the best job in the world. Reflecting upon his career, the marketing professor takes it a leap further.
“Actually,” he says, “I’ve had two of the best jobs in the world.”