UMSL grad has important role with some of St. Louis’ biggest teams

UMSL media studies alumnus Bobby Sutherland gets great seats for all the games at Busch Stadium, where he’s technical director. He does similar work at the Edward Jones Dome and Chaifetz Arena. (Photo by August Jennewein)

A recent University of Missouri–St. Louis graduate has World Series and National League Championship rings for his work with the Cardinals, but you won’t see him on the field.

Bobby Sutherland operates the Daktronics boards at Busch Stadium. Anything the fans see on the big boards, from the scores to the kiss cams, is the product of his labor and supervision. In addition to being technical director for the St. Louis Cardinals, he does the same work for the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome and the St. Louis University Billikens at Chaifetz Arena.

“Everything you see and hear as a fan in the stands comes from our crew and our production,” said Sutherland, who graduated from UMSL in December with a bachelor’s degree in media studies.

Working in the control room means some late nights, but it’s worth it to Sutherland for the prime seating and the chance to do what he loves. Getting playoff rings for his contributions to the crew in the 2011 National League Championship and 2013 World Series didn’t hurt, either.

UMSL media studies graduate Bobby Sutherland (left) working the boards at Busch Stadium. (Photo by August Jennewein)

“I get paid to watch sports,” Sutherland said. “It kind of is like a dream.”

In addition to Cardinals games, Sutherland produces the board graphics for weddings, corporate events and everything else that happens at Busch.

Sutherland started doing this work before he graduated, when he started an internship at Chaifetz Arena. When the internship ended, he took a job as the arena’s audiovisual supervisor, working the LED boards for concerts and other events. His knowledge from that job got him similar work at the Edward Jones Dome for St. Louis Rams games, and his position at Busch.

As his career kicked off, Sutherland continued his work at UMSL in media studies. His interest in the technical aspects of the media stretch back further, though.

“When I was a really young kid, I used to watch award shows, and I was amazed at how the live production happened before your eyes,” Sutherland said. “I was interested in all the technical aspects of media. I wasn’t interested in being in front of the camera.”

Still, Sutherland entered the University of Missouri–Columbia as a pre-journalism major, but quickly realized that it wasn’t for him. When he returned to St. Louis, he enrolled in St. Louis Community College and then UMSL. He originally planned to major in business. But business didn’t interest him much either, and Sutherland remembered how much he was fascinated by media production. UMSL’s media studies program fit him perfectly.

“I was really interested in the subjects, and my grades skyrocketed,” Sutherland said.

His hard work caught the attention of UMSL.

“Bobby was one of the busiest multitaskers to come through the media studies department in a number of years,” said James Fay, associate professor of media studies. “It isn’t surprising that he’s still busy at it. He has an infectious personality that makes him very easy to like.”

Fueled by his UMSL success, Sutherland soared to key roles at top St. Louis sports venues. The sky’s the limit for how much further he’ll go.


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