James Perez’s trip up Interstate 35 from San Antonio to Denton was supposed to be an intermediate stop on the way to Hollywood. Fortuitous career opportunities came about, though, after his graduation from the Mayborn and, since July 2013, his business card has read “Sales Manager, CBS 11/KTXA 21.”
Perez graduated from Central Catholic High School having researched radio-TV-film departments before deciding on UNT. “Denton was both close enough and far enough away,” said Perez, who found RTF “crowded,” however, and decided he would learn the technical side of film on his own while changing his major.
The 2003 B.A. in journalism degree recipient spent a summer balancing work as a video editor for Camp TV with an internship at CBS owned-and-operated KTVT-TV. Shortly thereafter, Perez received a fulltime offer from his soon-to-be boss and mentor, Matt Flewelling. His film career was placed on what may be permanent hold, initially due to the logic any young graduate driving a beat-up pickup would understand. “Part of the reason sales attracted me was the kind of cars the sales people were driving,” he said.
Starting as an account executive for CBS Radio in June 2004, Perez moved to the television side in 2006. He decided to make a career in sales after seeing the impact he could have on growing local businesses from the advertising side, while still getting to use his film and video chops.
“It’s not all about ‘spots and dots’ anymore,” he said. “It’s up to us to come up with ideas and concepts to set our clients apart. That can be anything from a 30-minute auto show to vignettes on the town of Addison.
“We’re in the mix from beginning to end,” said Perez, who even acted in one spot. “Local advertisers ask us to write storyboards for them. We’re shooting video ourselves. You’re constantly being told no. From a managing standpoint, if you’re one of the people who gives that extra five percent, that makes the difference for your business.”
Does he see eventually retiring at CBS? “That’s tough to say,” he said. “I’d love to run my own station someday. Slow and steady wins the race. If an opportunity within the CBS company to run my own station were to come up, I’d love to stay with the company.
“You’ve got to trust the people you work for and who work for you,” Perez said. “People take jobs for the money and they jump and jump and jump. You spend a good 80 percent of your life at work. It’s important to enjoy it.”
Perez often crosses paths with people he met while at UNT. “A lot of people I went to school with I’m still in contact with and a lot of alums work here,” he said. “UNT is really undervalued for a lot of people (but) it really provided me with a small glimpse of what the real world was about. You can’t just rely on a degree. My professors weren’t easy on us. I think that really helped me a lot.
“There’s a little bit of grit with people who graduate from UNT,” he said.