Stanly County native trains ears on NFL’s best and beyond
Published 9:06 am Thursday, February 23, 2023
Professionals trying to capture the images and sounds of the sports world often find themselves right in the middle of the action.
One Stanly County native makes his living capturing sounds in the highest levels of pro sports in this country and beyond.
Chandler Harkey, the son of Kent Harkey and Edna Lipe-Harkey of Albemarle, works for TA Films as the director of location sound and does sound editing. Harkey has covered many Super Bowls, including Super Bowl LVII between Philadelphia and Kansas City.
Harkey got into freelance work with the company about nine years ago. He and his friend, Tyler Adams, started the company. His first work in the NFL came when covering a Carolina Panthers summer camp in Spartanburg, South Carolina when Ron Rivera was the team’s head coach.
That fall, the Panthers were featured on the Amazon Prime Video show “All or Nothing,” produced by NFL Films.
“(NFL Films) asked if I wanted to work that season, so I basically worked with the Panthers the whole season,” Harkey said.
A 2006 Appalachian State communications graduate, Harkey started working with the Mountaineers’ communications department, creating videos for the school’s website. Later he worked as the athletic department’s director of video operations.
Harkey later took a similar position at Auburn University, producing TV shows for the school and web content for football and men’s basketball from 2012 to 2014.
He said he knew at a young age that video productions was an area in which he wanted to work. Harkey said he often operated a VHS camcorder on family vacations like camping trips.
“This gives me the ability to use my technical mind and work with my hands while going to cool places,” Harkey said. “It’s great to be able to work with different organizations…to be able to be paid to see a lot of things fans always wanted to see but don’t get a chance to see.”
Being a sound mixer, Harkey said he is usually paired with a camera operator on the field.
“Sometimes, (the camera person) might not always be cognizant of the play…so I always have to keep my head on a swivel,” Harkey said.
Along with Super Bowls, Harkey has covered the Masters golf tournament five times and one NBA All-Star game. He has covered sports across the country and overseas in New Zealand, England and Albania.
This last NFL season, Harkey was on the sidelines at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York, with the snow falling as the Buffalo Bills hosted the Cincinnati Bengals in the playoffs. He also knows about dealing with the outdoors in his job having done games on the famous frozen tundra of Lambeau Field in Green Bay.
“Even though you have a job to do and you prepare the best you can, you layer up and you go do it,” Harkey said. “Sometimes, it makes the outcome that much better knowing the things you went through to get it done…when you get it right, the image is pretty stellar.”
One of the better parts of his job, he said, is that is is never the same.
“It might be similar, but it’s a different city, a different feature or story, a different tactic, a different way to do something,” he said.
Harkey said it was hard to nail down the more colorful and nicer people with whom he’s worked. However, he said, he enjoyed working on music videos for country music singer Luke Combs, as well as time spent with former Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly and tight end Greg Olson.
Combs “couldn’t have been nicer to work with,” he said, adding “he was so down to earth.”
Kuechly, he said, “always made it a point to go around and shake everybody’s hand at the end of the day and thank them.”
Despite being a physically demanding job, including having to lug heavy equipment around everywhere, Harkey said the job is satisfying.
“When you’re able to put all the pieces together and tell a story that changes people lives, it kind of makes it worthwhile.”