May 12, 2009

State uses student’s video in preparedness effort

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A public service announcement that directs Illinois residents to the state’s emergency and disaster preparedness Web site has its origins with Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Rafal Kos, a senior in journalism, produced the 30-second video that starts airing on television stations throughout the state on Monday, May 18. The College of Mass Communication and Media Arts collaborated with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), the Illinois Terrorism Task Force, and the Illinois Broadcasters Association on the Ready Illinois High School Challenge.

IEMA unveiled the PSA, which features Beverly Love, a lecturer in the Department of Radio and Television, at a news conference today (May 12) at Springfield Lanphier High School. Brittny Barger, a junior at the school, authored the winning script and storyboard, which directs people to keep calm, have an emergency supply kit handy, and to the Web site,

“Helping out IEMA and the Illinois Broadcasters Association on this project was a real opportunity for our college to show off its talented students,” Dean Gary P. Kolb said. “We are always proud to lend a helping hand to the community when our expertise can be of value. We had a great script to work from and talented students involved with the project. IEMA will have a great product to air so it’s really a win-win-win situation.”

The PSA will air statewide on 27 television stations and in all markets, including those in Chicago and Southern Illinois. A radio PSA also produced by SIUC also may air in the future.

The PSA is part of a three-pronged approach by the Illinois Terrorism Task Force to increase public awareness about disaster preparedness, and the need for people to develop emergency supply kits that can be stored at home, said Mike Chamness, who chairs the terrorism task force and is the senior policy adviser at IEMA. A coloring book for smaller children, and an interactive computer game built around disaster scenarios, are under development at the University of Illinois.

“The Web site features the most up-to-date information on the H1N1, or swine flu virus, outbreak, and also was utilized during last summer’s floods, the April 2008 earthquake in southeastern Illinois, and the NIU shooting disaster in February 2008. The Web site is the information portal for the public and media,” Chamness said.

The Web site also provided information following the May 8 storm that devastated parts of Southern Illinois.

“This is a great public partnership to promote preparedness in the state of Illinois between the Illinois Terrorism Task Force, IEMA, the Illinois Broadcasters Association, and SIUC’s Department of Radio-Television,” said Chamness, a Murphysboro native who earned his bachelor’s degree from SIUC in 1978. “They are a top-notch radio-television department, and we were extremely pleased that they chose to work with us on this. As an alumnus of SIU, I am particularly proud.”

Kolb was very willing and enthusiastic to help, Chamness said.

“We think it’s a great project because it combines the creativity of a high school junior and the creativity of a college student who produced the spot. We wanted to tap into the creativity and enthusiasm of the youth.”

Dennis Lyle, president and CEO of the Illinois Broadcasters Association, earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from SIUC, and is on the Dean’s National Industry Council in the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts. The IBA also presented Lanphier High School a $10,000 check for the winning entry, chosen by the organization’s academic committee.

“This contest, andthe resulting media campaign, speaks volumes to the spirit of partnership andcooperation between the broadcasters of Illinois, the Illinois Terrorism Task Force Committee, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and of course the Illinois Emergency Management Agency,” Lyle said. “It's win-win for all involved and particularly the citizens of Illinois who, thanks to Brittny’screative vision,will again be remindedaboutthe value of the Web site.”

Kos, who graduates in August, said he is interested in new media and digital media. The project was for an independent study class, and the opportunity to produce the spot “fell into Mark’s lap,” he said, referring to Mark Stoffel, a media specialist in the college who supervised the production. Kos is the son of Marian and Irena Kos of Island Lake.

Production took place in mid-April. A Carbondale-based firm that specializes in dog training assisted by locating the dog used in the spot, and getting the dog and Love acquainted, Stoffel said.

Stoffel is pleased with the PSA, the project’s collaborative effort, and said the finished product measures up well. Kos’ roommates, who are cinema and photography majors, assisted in the production.

The lightning in the opening scenes is not special effects or stock video footage. Stoffel and Kos were each concerned with using stock lightning footage, but shortly before the shoot, a late night thunderstorm in Carbondale provided Kos the opportunity to sit on his front porch with his girlfriend for about an hour and shoot footage.

The production wasn’t too difficult “because everyone involved in it was very on board, very positive and very willing to help out to make little sacrifices. There was a large group of friendly, dedicated and committed people.”