Adams received a PhD in mass communications from Ohio University in 1993, an MA in communications from BYU in 1991, a BS in business administration from the University of Phoenix in 1986, and an AAS from Ricks College in 1982. He was named the most-outstanding journalism professor under the age of 40 by AEJMC in 1998, and was named in the first edition of Who's Who in the Media and Communications in 1999. In 2002, he was a recipient of BYU's Young Scholar Award.
During his time as as chair at BYU, the Communications Department became the School of Communications in 2015. Also during his tenure as chair, thirteen of the twenty-four faculty in the Department of Communications were hired. He worked to re-integrate the Daily Universe back into the curriculum and to have the Daily News Show back on KBYU. In 2005 the AdLab was created and in 2008, the Rulon Bradley Agency was moved from being student agency to a fully integrated public relations agency. As a result of these changes, research productivity doubled during these years, and teaching ratings improved. With the assistance of associate chair Brad Rawlins, assessment and learning outcomes were established in the department.
During his time as associate chair, the department undertook an ambitious curriculum revision. The revision streamlined course offerings and helped to accommodate teaching reductions for administrative service or scholarly work. His eight years of administrative leadership in the department was the longest continuous service since Oliver Smith had served as a department administrator between 1951 and 1960.
Prior to his arrival at BYU he taught at universities in Texas and Ohio. His industry experience includes managing a magazine publishing company in Phoenix, Arizona.
He has published more than 60 peer-reviewed articles, reviews, book chapters, biographical encyclopedia entries, and invited publications. He has also presented more than 50 papers at conferences. His scholarly work focuses primarily on the business and economic history of the media. His articles have appeared in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Journalism and Mass Communication Educator, Journalism History, American Journalism, and Journal of the West.
In May 2011 Adams spoke at a campus devotional at BYU, and in 2015 he was a speaker at the April Convocation.
In 2012 Adams and fellow professor Ed Carter found journals and books that explained the Supreme Court mystery of "the switch in time that saved nine". The documents were by Merlo Pusey, a reporter from the 1940s whose main focus was the Supreme Court and its various Justices.
- The Deseret News - 'Confidential' interview with Justice Roberts discovered in BYU Special Collections (8 Sept 2012)
- The Universe - BYU professors uncover one of the Supreme Court's biggest mysteries (4 Sept 2012)