March 07, 2011

' 26:46' again a finalist for student Emmy

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — The crew of Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Emmy Award-winning program, " 26:46," will know next week if their names again are on that treasured envelope.

The student-produced half-hour alternative TV news magazine is one of three finalists for a national student Emmy at next month's Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' 29th annual College Television Awards. The awards ceremony is Saturday, March 15, at Culver Studios in Los Angeles.

The news program is one of three finalists in the magazine category, said Timothy P. Wilkerson, a junior in SIUC's radio-television program and one of the show's two executive producers. The show airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on WSIU-TV.

The nominated show aired Jan. 20, featuring segments on voiceover master Don LaFontaine; the Angola Prison Rodeo at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, La.; the game of Donkey ball; and The Blue Man Group's visit to Carbondale in October.

"It's an honor," said Wilkerson, the son of Patrick and Deborah Wilkerson of Crystal Lake. "It's pretty cool to be recognized."

Jan Thompson, an associate professor in radio-television, is pleased with the show's success.

"This is a remarkable achievement for to continually go head to head with leading professional production schools, such as USC and NYU," said Thompson, who is also the show's faculty adviser. "Those universities are located in big cities and have access to professional actors and big equipment rental houses. Our students have to rely on our limited equipment arsenal. And what this shows is not only do our students have the talent to produce quality productions with minimal equipment but, more importantly, it shows how dedicated our students are year after year to be able to sustain such a high level of excellence."

Sean Q. Brown, the program's other executive producer, is excited about the nomination.

"I thought we had a really good show, but I was still nervous because you never know what can happen with an awards program like the student Emmys," he said.

Brown is a junior in radio-television. He is the son of Quentin and Laurie Brown of Deerfield.

The show's continuing success is due to the program's structure, which allows for student creativity and responsibility.

"I think the effort we put into the program is beyond what most people understand. For many nights and weekends we've stayed up 24/7 in order to make a good show," he said. "I think there is a lot of talent in our group, but the bottom line is we work really, really hard, and it's nice getting some acknowledgement for the long hours and hard work."

Wilkerson noted many of the competitors are graduate students within their respective programs. 26:46, however, is completely run by undergraduate students. Balancing the show and school can be difficult, but it shows the dedication of those involved, Wilkerson said.

"It says a lot about their work ethic and that they really care about making a good television show that we enjoy watching," he said.