J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication Award Recipients
Communicator of the Year Award
CHARLES O'NEIL, SP '74
Fast-paced and hilarious: That describes the average work day for Chuck O’Neil, director of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. For more than a decade, he has directed Comedy Central’s wildly popular and award-winning satirical news show. Before that, he directed Good Morning America and worked for WITI in Milwaukee.
“I love the challenge and adrenaline rush of live television,” he says. “It’s a joy to go to a workplace where the goal every day is making people laugh, and the added bonus is I get to laugh, too. It’s also very gratifying to work with smart, talented people who inspire me.”
Of course, Chuck looks for inspiration everywhere.
“There is so much to gain from those who have come before us and much to learn from where the medium is heading,” he says. “I’m constantly filtering what’s brilliant or awful with every film or show that I view. It’s important to never stop being a student.”
Although competition in the broadcast field can be fierce, Chuck credits Marquette with giving him the confidence to stick with it. His philosophy: Never accept “no” when it comes to reaching your goals, and set the bar high.
“I strive for perfection in everything I do and expect it from others,” he says. “There is a mutual respect that happens when you work as a team and respect each other’s position and expertise. You take ego out of the equation, and the result is working hard toward the same goal and everyone bringing their best.”
Hometown: Nashua, N.H.
Favorite quote: “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” — Douglas Adams.
Dream dinner guest: “There are really a lot of people I’d love to have dinner with, and it’s constantly changing. At the moment it’s: Bryan Cranston, Vince Gilligan, Ed O’Neill, Martin Scorsese, Bill Belichick, Peter Jackson, Jerry Seinfeld — and, being a rabid Marquette basketball fan, Buzz Williams, of course.”
Marquette faculty member who had an impact: “Robert Turner, who taught television production. He introduced me to alum Pat Holder, who was the lead director at WITI in Milwaukee. Later when I went to work there, Pat became my mentor and things took off from there.”
Favorite Marquette memory: “Traveling to Greensboro, N.C., to watch Marquette in the NCAA finals my senior year. Sadly, we lost to North Carolina State in the finals.”
Career he aspired to in grade school: “Like a lot of kids, I dreamed of being a professional athlete. I’m a huge sports fan, but desire doesn’t always translate into talent.”
Marquette legacy: “I was the first in my family to go to Marquette. My sister followed me. Then later my brother spent two years at Marquette before transferring to the University of Arizona to be closer to family.”
Most influential person: “Never underestimate the power of someone believing in you. My wife has been that for me. Michele’s been a kind of muse, encouraging me to observe, dissect and learn from all forms of media and translating that into my craft. She’s made me a better director and person.”