While attending Eastern New Mexico University to earn his bachelor's degree in broadcast production from 2001-2005, Hunton worked at the KENW television station, but that wasn't his first encounter with public media.
"Before that, I used to volunteer as a kid there at KENW, so I've been involved in public media for a big portion of my life," he said.
After graduating, Hunton dabbled in the film industry and in his own production company (called AV Productions), until he became the production director at KTTZ TV, TTU's public television station, in 2011. In 2015, Hunton became the general manager of KTTZ TV, and soon after the director of Texas Tech University Public Media, which oversees KTTZ TV and National Public Radio station KTTZ FM.
What does your typical work day entail?
I oversee the day-to-day operations of our whole organization. It can range from all kinds of different things, whether meeting with my staff about our marketing and organizational stuff, or even, we have a digital series that we produce for PBS Digital Studios called "Global Weirding" that's been written about in the New York Times and Slate and on Huffington Post.
It can be a whole range of things. The one interesting thing about public media is, because we are sort of a smaller outfit in the sense that we don't produce a nightly newscast or anything of that nature, we're smaller staffed, which means everybody does a little bit of everything, and that includes me. I'm involved in a lot of different things that general managers at other stations wouldn't be involved in.
What makes you passionate about public media?
As I mentioned, I've been involved in public media for most of my life, and public media is a service to our nation. It is unbiased in nature, it is a source of education, of enlightenment through the different programmings, whether that be "Nova" - the show that takes a look at different sciences - or "Antiques Roadshow," which brings history into commerce. All these different things are hugely beneficial for our nation.
I highly value public media. I think it's one of the nation's greatest resources that exists, and I take that responsibility very seriously in my stewardship of my community here in Lubbock and what we produce and program, and how we serve them through the different things that we do.
How has growing up in Portales helped lead you to where you are now?
What I love about Portales is the sense of community there is really astounding, as far as how everybody works towards making the community better, and also, the one thing in Portales is that everybody has a great understanding of history, of their roots. I met so many great storytellers growing up in Portales. My grandmother Wenonah was one of them, my grandfather also, and that's something that comes from that part of the world, where people share their stories and they do it well.
What I do in production, in broadcasts, is no different. We tell stories: Stories that enlighten, stories that educate, stories that make a difference, and growing up around a community of storytellers - with people who shared their pasts and who worked together for a brighter future - was a huge part of my upbringing and a huge reason why I am where I am.
Eastern New Mexico University, as well, was a place that really opened a lot of doors for me, and I'd have to thank Duane Ryan, the director of broadcast there at KENW TV, who's always been a mentor to me, and is a towering figure in public media, and has been a shining example of what public media means in a community, through his work and stuff that he's done at Channel 3 there. Professors like Greg Erf really gave me the tools and resources I needed to not only educate me, but to also help me educate myself. I think that was one of the important experiences I took from ENMU, was that a professor's going to be able to do so much for you, but a lot of it is incumbent upon you, and that was a lesson I learned at ENMU: That all the tools and resources are there, but it's up to you as an individual to get those and make the best of it.
What does this award mean to you, both professionally and personally?
Professionally, I think, if anything, this is a reflection of the work my entire staff does here at Texas Tech Public Media. The work they do every day is a shining example of what great media can do in a community. I'm just happy to be affiliated with all of the great work that we've done, and with the great people who work here.
Personally, I'm humbled and very honored to win such a prestigious award. I think about how big the state of Texas is, and the markets we have here. We're talking about the Houston market, the Dallas-Fort Worth Market, which are in the top 10 of the country. In Texas, it's very competitive in broadcast, and to win this award out here in West Texas and Lubbock - just a kid from Portales, New Mexico - means a lot to me. I never try for awards. They're nice, but this one in particular means a lot, just because of the scope of what it is in Texas. Texas is a big place, and to be considered the best at broadcast right here in Lubbock at Texas Tech University, says a lot about, I think, our place at Texas Tech Public Media, and I think it says a lot about our university, too. Texas Tech University has been phenomenal in their support of public media, and really, the president and the administration here at Texas Tech have done everything to help me succeed, and this is a reflection of their belief in us as well.