Ricky Kirshner: The Man Behind the Scenes

A letter from Bulletin Editor Tim Hyland

Story by

Tim Hyland

Photography by

Christa Neu

This February, nearly 100 million people tuned in to see the New England Patriots win yet another Super Bowl championship, as they outlasted the upstart Los Angeles Rams, 13-3. 

The game was widely panned as one of the least entertaining in league history (no offense, Patriots fans) but for a great many of the millions who were watching, the game’s flaws likely hardly mattered at all. After all, the Super Bowl stopped being “just” a football game a long, long time ago. Today, it’s a true cultural phenomenon, an official holiday and perhaps the single biggest global television event of the year. 

A big reason why is ... the halftime show.

Ricky Kirshner at Super Bowl LIII

Ricky Kirshner '82 inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. preparing for Super Bowl LIII.

Fifty-two years ago, when the first Super Bowl was played, halftime entertainment was what you’d have expected at the time for a football game—college marching bands. But over the course of the past five decades, the intermission period for this Game Of All Games has blossomed into a mega-event all its own, complete with superstar entertainers, outlandish orchestration and more than a few surprises. It is, quite simply, a uniquely American spectacle. 

And as it turns out, Lehigh’s own Ricky Kirshner ’82 is the man who makes it all work. 

As you’ll read in this issue of the Bulletin, Kirshner has for the past 13 years served as executive producer for the Super Bowl halftime show, in that time overseeing production of shows that have featured the likes of Prince, Katy Perry and Bruce Springsteen, among others. When he’s not running the biggest halftime show in all of sports, he stays busy by running such relatively minor productions as the Tony Awards, the Kennedy Center Honors, the Emmy Awards and presidential inaugurations. He owns 10 Emmy Awards, along with a Peabody Award and an Edward R. Murrow Award.

Kirshner’s career path may seem unlikely—at Lehigh, he majored in accounting—but he says that a business degree and the fundamentals learned are a good basis for any career that one might choose. We hope you’ll also enjoy the rest of the issue, which includes an introduction to the inaugural dean of Lehigh’s College of Health, Dr. Whitney Witt; a look back on the proud history of Lehigh’s choral arts program; an update on the many building projects that are rapidly transforming our beautiful campus, and much more. 

We thank you, as always, for taking the time to read the Bulletin.

Story by

Tim Hyland

Photography by

Christa Neu

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Ricky Kirshner

Up Close: Ricky Kirshner ’82

Producer Ricky Kirshner ’82 holds 10 Emmy awards. His productions include the Super Bowl Halftime Show, the Tony Awards, presidential inaugurals and a host of other major events.