March 15, 2004

Student-produced TV news series wins another honor

by Paula M. Davenport

CARBONDALE, Ill. - A highly decorated alternative television news series - produced by Southern Illinois University Carbondale students - has landed in the winner's circle again, this time at the 40th Annual Chicago International Television Awards competition.

The program, " 26:46," snared a gold plaque in the category of student-produced television series. Plaques are awarded only to entries of superior quality that are among the best in their category.

"This award is proof of the caliber of our students and their creativity," said Jan Thompson, faculty adviser to the program and an SIUC assistant professor of radio-television.

Winners were recognized Thursday, March 11, at a gala and screening at Chicago's Park West, an historic theater updated with the latest in multimedia equipment.

SIUC radio-television majors Whitney "Whit" R. Vogle of St. Louis and Jonathan "Jon" R. Hayes of Germantown won kudos for their roles as the show's executive co-producers.

The program featured segments on an unlikely motivational speaker born without arms, dairy cows whose hides have direct openings to their stomachs to aid scientific research and an unusual indoor canine competition.

The program's winning episode, #503, first aired in January on WSIU-TV, a public broadcasting station run by the University.

Hundreds of entrants from around the world annually vie for prizes at the competition - the highest awards being gold and silver Hugos.

Television pros from around the country annually fly in for the gala. This year's festivities honored guests Carol Marin, a prominent Chicago broadcast journalist, and master television commercial director Joe Pytka.

And a number of' crewmembers attended the event, too, said Thompson.

"They got to mingle with some of the elite in their field. It's a perfect opportunity for them to showcase themselves and the University," she added.

The contest recognizes the enormous technical and creative energy behind television commercials and productions and highlights their importance in communications.

Shaping high-quality academic programs is among the goals of Southern@150, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.

Panels of distinguished media professionals serve as contest judges.