December 02, 2003

Student-produced TV show piling up honors

by Paula M. Davenport

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A zany, alternative TV show -- and the Southern Illinois University Carbondale students who create and produce it -- wowed the crowd, beating commercial stations and snaring two statuettes at the 45th Annual Midwest-Chicago Emmy Awards competition, Dec. 1 at Chicago's Goodman Theatre.

The student program, " 26:46," bagged Outstanding Achievement for Informational Programming-Magazine Program Series. SIUC collegians Michael Cioni, Ian Vertovec, Jody Leggio and Otto Arsenault produced the winning episode.

Later in the evening, Arsenault and Cioni seized the Outstanding Achievement for Individual Craft Achievements Off Camera-Editing/Non-News for their work on one of the program's segments, "Palme d'Porn."

As a result, "" polished off competitors at such top-drawer media outlets as WLS-TV, Fox Sports Net and CLTV, a 24-hour news operation in Chicago.

Cioni elicited surprised awe from a roomful of industry pros during his acceptance speech when he told them "" is the work of college students, said Jan Thompson, assistant professor of radio-television and faculty adviser to the show's student programming staff.

Their win likely marks the first of its kind for SIUC students -- only now eligible to vie for prizes in the upstate competition as a result of a fledgling arrangement with Chicago's WTTW-TV, which picked up and aired select segments of the program last year.

It follows on the heels of a similar Emmy the program won for 2002-2003 best student production at the St. Louis/Mid-America Chapter's contest in October.

Locally, "" airs on WSIU-TV, a national public television affiliate run by the University.

"" is one of the hands-on creative ventures open to SIUC students. Headquarters for the program is the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, home of departments of radio-television, cinema-photography, a journalism school and a broadcasting service.

Activities such as those offered through "" demonstrate SIUC's commitment to promote excellence in undergraduate education, a tenet of the "Southern at 150" blueprint the University is following as it marches towards its 150th anniversary in 2019.