Jim Morton ’91: Out in the Wild with “Naked & Afraid”

Jim Morton ’91: Out in the Wild with “Naked & Afraid”

A TV producer gets down and dirty following contestants into the jungle

Jim Morton 91

Jim Morton ’91 grew up spending time in the Alabama woods with his dad, forestry major James Morton ’61, never knowing it would prepare him for his future career as a producer of hit reality show “Naked and Afraid.”

Morton says he was Auburn-bound from birth — “Ever since I was a little kid, Auburn was the place. I wanted to go there; it was home.”

Bouncing around between majors throughout his time at Auburn, Morton finally found his calling in radio and TV production classes. “I’m a storyteller at heart, and from that moment on, I was like, ‘this is what I want to do.’”

Before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and minors in psychology and business, Morton completed an internship at CNN. He worked his way up the ladder in the video journalist program, doing everything from tape editing to producing – and even sports casting.

Taking place at the outbreak of the first Gulf War, his experience in the control room during those tense times convinced Morton he’d made the right career choice.

“I fell in love with fast-paced, live TV. Talk about an adrenaline rush — you have to learn everything you can in 30 seconds, which is a lot more than you think.” After his internship, Morton moved to L.A. and began his career as a freelance producer. His first job was with production company Renegade83, never anticipating it would lead him to the biggest show in his career: “Naked and Afraid.”

Life as a freelance producer landed Morton producing shows of all kinds, toughing through some duds simply for the paycheck, but also getting to do shows he loved, like “The Benefactor” with Mark Cuban and “Only in America” with Larry the Cable Guy. He worked hard and travelled often so much that, once, he had to call the front desk at his hotel to ask what city he was in. One day Renegade83 approached Morton about producing “Naked and Afraid,” and although still unsure, he gave it a shot.

Jim Morton 91 on set
Morton on the set of “Naked and Afraid”

After rushing a contestant on the brink of death to the hospital, eyes rolling in the back of her head, he told his wife, “if I do three seasons of this, it’ll be a miracle.” Yet he is still here, several years later, getting ready for another season.

Although surrounded by nudity for weeks at a time, Morton and his crew find it easy to stay professional to keep contestants comfortable. “To me, they might as well be wearing a flesh-colored jumpsuit,” he said, “We notice the bug bites more than anything.” Ironically, Morton say the weirdest part for him is actually seeing what the cast members where in real life after the show ends.

Years on the show have taken Morton to beautiful places across the globe like Brazil, Ecuador, Belize and Panama. He even filmed a season on his family’s land in Alabama. Morton’s favorite location — also the most desolate — was Guyana, where the crew stayed in a ranch in one room without hot water or power. “It was the most remote place I’ve ever been, and it was pretty miserable, but we had a ball – we loved it.”

During his travels, Morton has seen cast and crew members with deadly bug and snake bites, and was himself once bitten by a scorpion in his sleep. He’s also eaten some unusual things – termites and ants that taste like lemons, grub worms, even iguana — a delicacy in Guyana.

He’s also met some incredible people with amazing stories, like Diego, a local expert who escaped imprisonment from rebel soldiers while in the Colombian Army and dedicated his life to jungle survival. “The people you meet are what make it really special,” he said.

Much of what Morton does isn’t in the typical job description of a producer, like testing safe evacuation routes for the cast by hiking miles and pedaling across treacherous waters. Just getting to and from the set every day is a workout; he loses an average of 20 pounds per season.

The hardest part of his job isn’t the tiresome hiking or constant heat and bugs, Morton said. It’s watching contestants make mistakes, like drinking questionable water, and not being able to help them. The one thing he can do is take on the role of coach and cheerleader, “I can’t see them, or give them water, but I can give them encouragement and make the believe that they’re going to make it.” Morton finds inspiration from the book “Lone Survivor” to tell them to make it through the day or the hour rather than looking ahead to the pain.

“The highs are super high, and the lows are super low, but I remind them they’ll get a little victory eventually.”

JIM MORTON ’91: OUT IN THE WILD WITH “NAKED & AFRAID” Alumni profile for magazine ex 3

While his job is difficult at times, the crew makes every second of it worth it. “The people that work on the show are like a big family – we love working together and everybody gets along, because you have to in such a weird situation. It’s such an incredible group of people, and they’re really dedicated to what they do.”

Throughout his travels, Morton gained a newfound appreciation for the little things in life like air conditioning and fresh water, but most of all – not having to eat rice on a daily basis. “My wife will ask me what I want to eat, and I always say, ‘Anything but rice. No rice,’” he said. The crew eats so much rice, they even joked about making a t-shirt with “Hope you like rice” on the back.

More than happy with where he is now, Morton certainly didn’t expect to be where he is today facing the dangers of nature. “Being in the woods with my dad my whole life kind of prepared me for it. Everywhere we go is hot and humid like Alabama in the summertime, with bugs and venomous snakes.” His love for Alabama brought him all the way back home to Auburn last January. “L.A. just wasn’t for me; I’m a guy from Alabama, you know,” he laughed. Morton enjoys walking around downtown Auburn with his wife by his side and taking in the town he holds so many memories of.

With little time to relax, Morton is already filming for the next season of “Naked and Afraid” in Africa. “This is my first time [going to Africa] and I’m so excited,” he said. While the specific location can’t be disclosed until after filming, Morton said that there will be armed rangers to protect them from the wild animals of Africa.

Morton always wears some Auburn clothing or hat while filming and gets “War Eagle” from people across the globe, like Colombia and Panama. With his crew by his side, the challenges of the wild won’t stop him from filming anytime soon.

“There are times when its absolutely miserable – but you have your friends, you’re all suffering together, and you make the most out of it.”

“There are times when its absolutely miserable – but you have your friends, you’re all suffering together, and you make the most out of it.”

Tiger of the Sea: Robert Glennon Receives Veterans Success Scholarship

Tiger of the Sea: Robert Glennon Receives Veterans Success Scholarship

[vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”2/3″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][image_with_animation image_url=”17283″ alignment=”” animation=”Fade In” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/3″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]Living underwater at extreme depths for days or weeks at a time, demolishing or retrieving wreckage, going on classified missions in the trenches of the ocean — just a typical day for 2nd class Naval Diver Robert Glennon, who considers himself “a normal student.” Six years ago at the age of 17, Glennon went under oath swearing his life to the U.S Navy, never looking back.

“I wanted to serve my country, but a huge part of it is the experience it provides and getting out there,” says Glennon.

“Being in the Navy is a great time, a lot of it is going out there to see the world. The education opportunities are fantastic.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]Glennon is the first recipient of the Veterans Success Scholarship, a fund raised during the 2016 Tiger Giving Day crowdfunding campaign. The $5,000 goal had a 143-percent success rate for a total donation of $7,190 by the Auburn community.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”2/3″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]The scholarship is part of the Veterans Success Program, which assists with the transition from military life to college life for veterans, active duty military and members of the U.S National Guard and Reserves.

To Glennon’s surprise he was assigned to Auburn University to complete his degree, which he was happy to oblige.

“I’ve always been an Auburn fan; I always wanted to come to Auburn,” Glennon explains.

Glennon applied for the scholarship through the Auburn Scholarship Opportunity Manager (AUSOM) service online and is grateful for every bit of financial assistance he can get.

“[The scholarship] really helps a lot,” he says. “Every bit I get is a dollar less I have to take out in student loans.”

Now 23 and a senior pursuing a physics degree at Auburn University, Glennon considers the balance between military and civilian life manageable.

“They don’t have me doing a whole lot while I am a student. I almost forget that I am in the Navy,” he says.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/3″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][image_with_animation image_url=”17285″ alignment=”” animation=”Fade In” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]During his downtime, when not crunching numbers for his major, Glennon takes part in the Sailing club, an interest he picked up while stationed at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][image_with_animation image_url=”17284″ alignment=”” animation=”Fade In” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]Glennon also assists the Naval ROTC every Tuesday morning, donning his uniform along with 15 active duty students, completing assigned jobs given by staff including the orientation for incoming cadets and seamen.

Post-graduation, Glennon will continue to stay in the Navy with the goal of becoming a pilot.

“Have you ever seen Top Gun? The lifestyle is great, the work is great, I think it’s the coolest job in the military,” says Glennon. “I’ve flown a plane before [and] I want to continue doing it.”

For Glennon’s projected career field as an aspiring naval aviator, his education does not require any specific major to apply, which is why he took up his favorite subject: physics.

In addition to his Physics degree, Glennon would like to receive a master’s degree in computer science.

Until then, Glennon is enjoying student life on land as an Auburn Tiger.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]

“I’m just a normal student right now, which is really cool,” Glennon says

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][image_with_animation image_url=”17282″ alignment=”” animation=”Fade In” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Cindy Shelton-Tennimon ’79

Cindy Shelton-Tennimon ’79

[vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]I was the first female member of my family to attend college. I chose Auburn because it represented all the values of higher learning that I hoped to achieve. The legacy of the science of agriculture, something my dad had hoped to be a part of but alas fell short. The idea that being an educated adult meant that I would achieve my folks dream of a better life. And even though I probably didn’t realize it at the time, I had set my eyes on a higher goal than just to bag a husband!

I can proudly say I was in the graduating class of BSW, Bachelors in Social Work that helped the University receive its accreditation in the young program. What a proud moment for me as a student and my professors and peers!

Finally, although this isn’t actually a University story it is a story that will forever tie me to the Plains. I was a lemonade jerk at Toomers! Yep, spent most of my Saturdays not at Shug Jordan Stadium, but behind a counter at Toomers. What a fantastic experience in real word work but oh my gosh how proud I am now to say I am an alumni of Toomers Drug Store as well! War Eagle.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][image_with_animation image_url=”16012″ alignment=”” animation=”Fade In” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Andrea Eagle ’97

Andrea Eagle ’97

[vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][image_with_animation image_url=”15842″ alignment=”” animation=”Fade In” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]I came to Auburn in 1993 to attend pharmacy school. I was born and raised in Georgia, and had always been a Dawg. I had only been to a few football games before and wasn’t really a fan. That all changed. This was the year the Tigers went undefeated under Coach Terry Bowden. The first time I rolled Toomer’s was after we beat the Gators.

My years at Auburn taught me there is so much more to Auburn than just football. The Auburn Creed is lived out daily by Auburn men and women every day. Auburn not only gave me my degree in pharmacy, but also a great big Auburn family!

It’s great to be an Auburn Tiger![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Missy Hanks ’89

Missy Hanks ’89

[vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][image_with_animation image_url=”15580″ alignment=”center” animation=”Fade In” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%”][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/2″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]Being able to attend Auburn University was a life long dream for me.

I am the first female to graduate from college in my family. I was fortunate to have the support of great parents who allowed me the opportunity-and I relished every minute while on the Plains.

I worked at the original Mama G’s and the Haley Center Bookstore where I made life long friends. My husband is a 2nd generation Auburn alum and our children are both students at Auburn now. My daughter will graduate in 2 weeks and we couldn’t be more proud that she is an Auburn Tiger for life![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][/vc_column][/vc_row]