Our NEP team celebrates the life of founder Tom Shelburne. Known as the father of remote television production, Tom founded NEP Supershooters in 1987, revolutionizing the way live sports and entertainment has been shared with millions of fans and TV viewers since that time. His ingenuity quickly led our company, now called NEP Group, to become the world’s leading mobile broadcast production company and the global media technology partner we are today.
"Tom was an incredible pioneer and visionary in the mobile unit facility business. He was an incredible talent and partner over the years with NBC Sports as NEP grew from a few technical units to a worldwide international fleet. Tom, an SVG Hall of Famer, was a technical genius who teamed with George Wensel and Debbie Honkus to build a company and culture admired industrywide.”
Ken Goss, Executive Vice President, Studio & Remote Production, NBC Sports
NEP's origins began with WNEP, an ABC affiliate in Scranton, Pennsylvania (USA), owned by the Shelburne family. The staff there developed the company’s first mobile broadcast units, tractor trailers filled with broadcast equipment to cover events on the road, beginning with Penn State University football games. In 1986, Tom spun out the operation as NEP, an independent company, and one year later merged it with Pittsburgh-based TCS. Co-founders Deb Honkus and George Wensel joined Tom to run the company, and they decided to relocate NEP to Pittsburgh, a city they were passionate about.
“Tom Shelburne was special. He was always about the people. As the seed of NEP, Tom recognized from the beginning that he needed the best. He bought TCS just because they had two people he knew would grow his business: Hall of Famers George Wensel and Deb Honkus. Tom was not only a pioneer of sports TV but a cowboy who knew how to get whatever needed to be done, done.
There was no show too small or too big for Tom to take on. There are few owners who could be found in the back of the racks of a distressed truck or who would take over a camera assignment if needed. He loved working on the front lines of sports broadcasts. There was nobody better, nobody more fun to be around.”
Ken Aagaard, President, CBT and former Executive VP of CBS Sports
Tom Shelburne was inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2007, and his legacy of innovation will be celebrated this December as part of the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame ceremony in New York, hosted by Sports Video Group.
Tom’s vision of what a mobile production truck could do launched the remote production industry, which is today so essential to live broadcasting. We are grateful for his friendship and mentorship to so many at NEP and in the industry.
"I am honored I was able to be an integral part of building such a great company and team with Tom. His leadership and passion for what we do as a business – and as an industry – and the people was unmatched. He never followed the rules, but he always put our clients and our staff first. It was a great 30 years building a dynasty together and it couldn’t have been done without Tom.”
Deb Honkus, Co-founder, NEP Group
We've compiled here just some of the tributes shared by Tom's friends, colleagues, and admirers who join us in celebrating his life and legacy.
"Fits every definition of a LEGEND!"
"Tom helped me design some of the cabinets in audio in the first WWE truck.… and it wouldn't surprise anyone that his designs were on a restaurant napkin. RIP Tom."
"Tom was brilliant (give him a Sawzall and he could create anything!), and he also had an incredible knack with motivating people to do (and be) their very best. He led by actually “doing”, not by pointing, and when you were working with him on a project, you felt an incredible comradery, that your efforts really meant something."
"I owe my career to this man. A true friend and so talented. So many incredible but true stories and so much fun building the TV station in the 70's and 80's. No one like him."
"Tom was simply the best of our industry. He laid the groundwork for what we now know as remote television production. Pittsburgh became the hub of the TV universe because of him…"
"Amazing guy and a wonderful family. I was an intern at WNEP, where it all started for Tom. He gave me my first paycheck in TV. Worked for the station and on SuperShooter/NEP Productions trucks for much of my career. I’m forever grateful to the Shelburnes."
"I am forever grateful to Tom for bringing me on board at NEP over 20 years ago."
"RIP Tom. Everyone who works in sports and all those whose lives are better watching sports broadcasts owe you a great debt for enriching our lives."
"I started working for Tom in 1980 and I believe his greatest talent was to inspire everyone working with him to dig deep down and do what you didn’t think could be possible. You will be missed Tom, keep inspiring us all!"
"Loved Tom, loved the interesting stories. Probably the most humble and kind man I have ever known. R I P"
"One of the very best in our industry…helped so, so many…God Speed and thank you, Tom!"
"A wonderful and brilliant man. I had the privilege and honor to be the final EIC of his first huge success, SS-8."
"The best boss ever!!"
"At the ‘87 Pan Am games during the transition of TCS to NEP a number of freelance crew [received] bankruptcy letters from TCS. Tommy put together a meeting for the entire crew to explain how they would be guaranteed to be paid [for this event]….A man of his word is always how I will remember him. THANK YOU for all you did for our careers."
"A brilliant and hardworking man."
"Television broadcasting lost a true legend! I hope he's playing cards and having a beer with another NEP TV legend, George Wensel. RIP Mr. Shelburne..."
"I was on some of Tom’s earliest trucks. His attention to detail and quality installation techniques was legendary and made for some consistently great shows. I learned a great deal on how to do it right from those trucks. RIP Supershooter #1"
"Tom's story should be mandatory reading for everyone in the sports/entertainment television industry. It's impossible to fathom where we are today without understanding how and what Tom started."
"Never a hand he wouldn’t shake or a face or name that he would forget…"
"Tom was the most amazing guy - colleague, mentor, friend. I hope he, George, and Declan are having cocktails in the TV Compound in the sky, and may it be nowhere near the garbage dumpsters. RIP, my friend."
"I met Tommy through my good friend and former boss George Hoover. George asked me to help with a few wiring projects, so I headed to Pittsburgh and got busy. On my first day, this guy with a pencil in his ear wearing a T shirt and jeans kept ribbing me and asking me if I was finished the truck yet—I was there for only 15 minutes. I was getting annoyed and told another worker named Declan. He laughed and said that guy bugging you is the owner Tommy. Later that day Tommy laughed and gave me a big handshake, then invited me to have dinner with his family at his house and took me skydiving the next day and treated me like gold! He is the one of the coolest smartest people I have ever met."
"A most amazing man to work for & with! Tom was a true trail blazer in remote broadcast technology."
"He was a character. He landed his helicopter in my backyard!"
"I met Tom during the rollout of the first SS8. I was new to television he was so nice to me. Those moments have stuck with me forever. He was a very special human!"