May 01, 2009

Radio-TV students capture statewide honors

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s broadcast journalism program brought home a number of honors last week at the Illinois News Broadcasters Association convention.

WSIU TV 8’s River Region Evening Edition earned top honors for outstanding sports television program for its Nov. 6, 2008, broadcast. The station also placed second for outstanding television newscast.

“Needless to say we are very proud of the hard work our students put in day in and day out,” news director Jim Gee said. “We pride ourselves on running a news and sports operation that reflects the current trends in the industry. I feel very privileged to work with a group of gifted students like these.”

The SINBA is the student chapter of the Illinois News Broadcasters Association. SIUC’s chapter is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and is the oldest of the student chapters in the state.

Gee is currently INBA president. The conference was April 24-26 in Champaign.

Senior lecturer and faculty adviser Joey Helleny emphasized that the students’ accomplishments in the newscasts are beyond required classroom work. Students need to immerse themselves in the field if they want to be successful, he said.

“It’s always gratifying to see student work judged positively when compared to peer institutions and other student work,” he said. “While our goal is not necessarily to win awards, it does help validate that the students are doing quality work, and we are always happy to see that.”

Award winners are:

Zlatko Filipovic, a senior in radio-television from Rock Island, picked up three awards. He received first for outstanding videography, second for outstanding use of sound, and third for outstanding television news reporting.

Patrick T. Erickson, a junior in radio-television from Gig Harbor, Wash., placed first in outstanding radio sports play-by-play category.

Aaron D. Kirn, a senior in radio-television from Golden Eagle, received second for outstanding television sports reporting. Ross M. Rowling, a senior in radio-television from Jerseyville, received third in the same category.

Brian J. Spengel, a senior in radio-television from Crystal Lake, was third for outstanding videography.

WSIU Sunrise Sports finished second in the outstanding soft radio program category with Thomas C. Self, a senior in radio-television from Eureka, Mo.; Johnny D. Sole, a junior in radio-television and journalism from Park Ridge; Thomas K. Niemiera, a senior in radio-television from Orland Park; and Michael J. Benson, a sophomore in journalism from Morrison. Self also placed third in outstanding radio sports reporting.

This is the sixth year in a row the half-hour weekly sports show placed first or second in the student competition. Created and produced entirely by students, the program started in 2003.

“The students do an excellent job producing the program,” said Jeff Williams, station manager and public affairs director for WSIU radio. “It’s been well recognized by a jury of their peers in other states and by other broadcasters that the program is a well produced and informative sports magazine program.”

WSIU Radio also received awards from the Associated Press for its efforts this past year. The staff earned second place in the “Best Newscast” category for its May 21, 2008, local morning newscast at 7:04 a.m. In addition, reporter Jennifer Fuller earned second-place recognition in the “Best Reporter” category for a compilation of stories throughout 2008.

The “Best Newscast” award “represents the commitment that WSIU has to covering both local and state news that is of interest to our community,” Williams said. “It’s representative of what our staff and our students who also contribute to the newscast do every day and the excellence they put forth every day.”

Fuller’s award “reflects on her professionalism and her ability to identify and report on topics that reflect the needs of the community,” Williams said. Fuller’s reporting focuses a lot on community health, in addition to public affairs and public policy as it relates to the University and the greater community the University serves.

The River Region Evening Edition airs on WSIU-TV Monday through Thursday at 5 p.m. There is also a three-minute update at 10:57 p.m.

There are more than 70 student volunteers who produce the entirely student-produced newscasts. For more information on the program, go to

The Department of Radio-Television is in the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts.