October 11, 2010

SIUC alternative news program wins Emmy

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Alt.news 26:46 continued to show its domination Saturday night when the student-produced television program earned another professional regional Emmy.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s award-winning half-hour alternative TV news magazine received an Emmy in the magazine news program category at the 2010 National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Mid-America Regional Chapter Emmy Awards in St. Louis. The program, “episode 1103,” aired Jan. 24, 2010.

The awards at the 34th annual event were for outstanding achievement by individuals and programs broadcast between April 1, 2009, and March 31, 2010.

The regional Emmy marks the fourth straight year -- and fifth in the last six years -- that alt.news 26:46 earned top honors in the magazine news show category.

"The enormous talent of our students always amazes me. I am very proud of our students who year after year continue to create excellent work, and who are not afraid to go head-to-head with professionals,” said Jan Thompson, an associate professor in radio-television and documentary unit director, who also is the program’s faculty adviser.

“This win continues to build on the dynasty created. What is important to remember is students graduate each year and there are new students who step up.” Thompson said.

The program begins its 12th season this month with the season premiere set for 10 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 24 on WSIU-TV Channel 8.

Gary P. Kolb, dean of the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, applauds the program's continuing success.

"We are extremely proud of the efforts and successes of alt.news 26:46 over the years. It's great to see the students' creative work pay off in awards, but even more important is the learning experience they take away from conceiving and producing that award-winning programming," Kolb said. "They are to be congratulated for their continued success. We believe that alt.news has won more professional Emmys than any other student produced program in the country."

Professor Dafna Lemish, chair of SIUC’s Department of Radio-Television, said the award and program’s continuing success “is an ongoing and lasting achievement that speaks volumes to the dedication, hard work, excellent skills and creativity that go into this extra-curricular work of our students.”

“It goes to show that our students find their studies in Radio-TV to be a lot more than a place where you come to get a degree, but an holistic experience with the real world of high quality television production,” she said. “When students are motivated -- they put in their all -- many hours of volunteer work and a lot of team effort. Winning the award repeatedly shows that it pays off. We are very proud of our students, and of our faculty member Jan Thompson, who has been their faculty adviser for 10 years now, and is dedicated to helping the students get the most out of themselves.”

John D. Elder, a May 2010 bachelor’s degree graduate in radio television from Carol Stream, and Kevin M. Hill, a senior with a double major in radio-television and cinema and photography from Arlington Heights were the program’s executive producers.

While this is not alt.news 26:46’s first Emmy award, the win is “just as exciting and difficult as it ever was,” Hill said.

“It never gets any easier, nor should it, “ he said. “This is something that we strive for, and when it just so happens that our efforts are recognized with a nomination or even a win, it is an amazingly powerful reminder that we need to continue the tradition of hard work we have been a part of for many years.”

Involved with alt.news 26:46 since his freshman year, the opportunity enabled him to experience every part of the production, and to “hone in what I really feel passionate about,” Hill said.

“This isn’t just a couple-hours-a-week operation, this seems like a volunteer career, and that’s just fine with me,” he said. “The hope is that this will one day help us all in our search for a real career, which from the looks of our alumni, it will.”

Hill hopes to show incoming freshmen involved this year “the ropes, so that they, too, can figure out what it is they are passionate about while finding a way to be successful with it.”

Elder, who is in Austin, Texas, now does freelance video editing random work for several businesses and production companies. The award is a testament to the program’s annual consistent quality from a variety of sources, including alumni who began the show and students who continue “the tradition of quality.” He also cited continued support from WSIU Public Broadcasting, the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, Thompson, and other faculty and staff within the college.

“The award represents months of hard work by students who volunteer hours of their lives to be involved in making something of great quality that takes a whole team and whole lot of teamwork to pull off,” Elder said. “This award is not just for Kevin and I, it’s for anyone who was involved. It is a symbol of all the hard work we put into the show for a whole year.”

Since 2001, the program has earned 29 regional professional Emmys -- 27 from NATAS’ Mid-America chapter in St. Louis, and two from the Chicago Midwest Chapter. In 2009, the show earned its fourth national college Emmy in eight years when it received the award for the best collegiate television magazine news show in the nation.

The Mid-America chapter is comprised of television markets primarily in Arkansas, Illinois and Missouri, and surrounding designated market areas, or DMAs, according to event organizers.

Alt.news 26:46 also earned two additional regional Emmy Award nominations in August -- Jenna E. Tromburg, a senior in cinema and photography from Littleton, Colo., for “The Bishop Castle,” in the arts/entertainment feature segment category, and Frank E. McDonald Jr., a senior in radio-television from Bartlett, and James A. Throgmorton, a junior in cinema and photography from Carbondale for “For Kids Sake,” in the public/current/community affairs – story/feature category.

More information is available at http://www.an2646.com.