After graduating from high school, Jim Benson ’86 took a different path than most of his friends. Benson, a Clifton resident at that time, worked for four years before deciding to continue his education at Montclair State. With an interest in the field of television, he decided to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Speech and Theatre with a concentration in Broadcasting. He became a second generation Benson to attend Montclair State. Benson’s late father, James Sigler Benson was a Mathematics major who graduated from Montclair State in 1940.
Benson began his career at the Private Satellite Network (PSN) where he first took on as project coordinator and then director of Broadcast Services Group. While at PSN, he managed some of the largest live events in the business television industry for companies such as IBM, Apple and Ford Motor Company. He then moved on to Worldwide Television News, known today as Associated Press Television News, where he took on a role as manager.
Today, he is President and CEO of Vision Quest Productions, Inc., a boutique full-service provider of television production services for Fortune 500 corporations. “I am involved with every aspect of the business,” he says. “I could be arranging for an Electronic Field Production crew to record an interview in Saudi Arabia or organizing a live multi-camera town hall broadcast in India.”
Benson is proud of the success of his company and credits one particular project as his greatest professional accomplishment. “Not only was the project very complicated with many moving parts, but it was also planned in just five weeks,” he says. In 2002, Vision Quest Productions provided DaimlerChrysler with extensive coverage of the world premiere of the Maybach.
“Every milestone that has happened since graduating from Montclair State can be traced back to my decision to attend Montclair State and my acceptance into the Broadcasting program,” he says.
During his time at Montclair State, he served as a legislator for the Student Government Association (SGA), founding member of Montclair State’s chapter of the Students for Social Responsibility, executive producer for MSC-TV and was heavily involved in the Montclarion.
If not in the DuMont Television Center, you could find Benson in the Montclarion offices where he held positions as news writer, editorial page editor, associate editor and editor in chief. During his term, the newspaper was awarded the “All-American” ranking of the Associated Collegiate Press.
Much like other students, he saw the value of internships. He first landed an internship with Wold Communications where he learned the basics of satellite and microwave transmission, and reception. It was this experience that helped him land his first job at PSN.
He remembers fondly of Dr. Howard Travis and Dr. Christopher Stasheff. “They were more than mere professors. They were mentors, friends and confidants,” he says. “They will always hold a special place in my heart for the faith they showed in me and the lessons they instilled.”
Amongst many memorable moments of his time as an undergrad, Benson considers his participation as Executive Producer for Telerad 25 his favorite. Telerad 25 was a full day of student produced content that gave students the experience of running a television station, producing commercials, news programs, comedies, dramas and sports programs.
Reflecting on his experiences as a student and the career opportunities that came his way after graduation, Benson advises current students to get involved on campus, take on internship opportunities and network. “Never stop networking!”
In 2015, his son, Wyatt James Benson, became a third generation Benson to attend Montclair State. “Wyatt found that Montclair State had the best program suited for his interests,” he says. “But, I’m sure there was some influence from his dad about the program.” With an interest in broadcast engineering, his son graduated in 2019 with a Bachelor’s degree in Television and Digital Media.