March 31, 2009

Radio-TV alumni returning for annual conference

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Nearly 40 Southern Illinois University Carbondale alumni from the Department of Radio-Television will return to campus this weekend for the annual news alumni conference.

The all-day event is Saturday, April 4, in the Communications Building. Hosted by Students in the Illinois News Broadcaster’s Association, the event features panel discussions that focus on how “social media is playing into the nightly newscast, as well as producing with fewer people in the newsroom,” said Erik Rancatore, chapter president, and a senior in radio-television from Frankfort.

This is the SIUC chapter’s 25th anniversary.

The conference is open to the public. The fee is $5, and includes breakfast prior to the day’s sessions, and lunch.. The conference entrance is through the McLeod Theater entrance.

Paul E. Donohue, who earned his bachelor’s degree in radio-television in 1985, will present the keynote address at 12:20 p.m. in Studio A, room 1046.

Donohue is a marketer with The Downey Group, based in Champaign. His diverse and extensive background includes more than 20 years executive management experience in the broadcasting and financial service industries. Donohue started his career at WGN radio in Chicago, and he later worked in television as a news reporter, sports anchor and primary news anchor. He worked as a station and general manager at three network-affiliated stations before joining the financial services industries, according to his biography. Donohue earned an executive master’s of business administration from the University of Illinois. His Web site is

Donohue said his speech will focus on a concept he’s followed in his own career that he calls “Voice” -- voyage, opportunity, intellect, credibility, and excellence.

“Voice is another way of describing our personal brand identity,” Donohue said. “The more we match our passion with our actions, in my view, the more authentic we become and a higher level of satisfaction is achieved in life. It’s not about the money. It about striving to achieve inner peace with who you are and what you do.”

The conference gives students an opportunity to not only network with industry professionals, but also learn techniques to give them a boost in their job search, Rancatore said.

“We have alumni attending this conference from all across the nation, people who have worked on the production side of Barack Obama’s campaign, to those who anchor nightly newscasts and even people who are using their Radio-Television degrees in marketing or public relations,” Rancatore said. “To have all of these people believe in the college, and be willing to travel back to Carbondale is really something that all students should take advantage of.”

Workshop topics include “Developing stories on slow news days,” “Using your degree in other fields,” “Twitter, Facebook: Change to the traditional newscast” and “When sports becomes headline news.” The conference also will examine the job outlook for 2009 and beyond. A complete list of conference topics, times, and room locations is available at

“Although the economy may be in a downturn right now we want students to realize that these people walked these halls before they achieved their many successes, and that they can pave those same paths,” Rancatore said.

For more information on the conference contact Rancatore at