April 18, 2011

'alt.news 26:46' captures top national honor

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- It's a habit that the crew of Southern Illinois University Carbondale's College Television Award-winning program, "alt.news 26:46," is becoming familiar with.

For the third time in four years, the student-produced half-hour alternative TV news magazine captured the national student College Television Award for the best collegiate television magazine news show in the nation at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation’s 32nd annual College Television Awards. The awards ceremony was Saturday, April 9, at Renaissance Hotel Hollywood.

The winning episode, which aired in late January, beat out submissions from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and the Art Institute of California-Los Angeles.

"We are thrilled that alt.news 26:46 has won yet another national Emmy for their creative work,” said Gary P. Kolb, dean of the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts. “This is an unprecedented record of success for any program or activity within the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts. Alt.news is demonstrably one of the best and most successful student-produced programs in the history of the College Television Awards. Our congratulations go out to all involved with the show -- the students and their faculty adviser, Jan Thompson.”

Dylan Damian and Kelly E. Reed were the program’s executive producers. The episode includes a look at the Hotel Louisville Downtown, which is not only a full-service hotel, but also serves as a transitional living facility for women and families, charging only a penny a night; the Museum of Bad Art in Boston, the history of pinball machines, and Eoto, an “electronic dubstep band.”

Other short pieces in the episode were two fake movie trailers, “Everybody Poops,” a horror film, and “Guilt,” a sequel to “Doubt.” The was also a fake commercial for Selfphone, “the only phone that dies when you die,” and “With Love, alt.news,” where housewives write love letters to the alt.news mascot, Kelly said.

Damian and Kelly are featured in a photograph with actor David Henrie in the celebrity selection of Life.com.

The win is a “tremendous accomplishment” for alt.news, which is in its 12th season, said Thompson, an associate professor in radio-television and documentary unit director.

“To be able to win almost year after year at the College Awards and go head-to-head with the top schools in the field, and to continue to win at the Mid-America Emmys …and go head-to-head with professionals shows just how gifted and hard working our students are,” Thompson said. “They come from small towns and big towns but they continue to have the heart and desire to strive for excellence and not be intimidated by anyone or anything.”

According to current alt.news records, this is the show’s fifth national College Television Award in the last 12 years -- 2000, 2001, 2008, 2009, and 2011, to go with two second-place finishes and one third-place finish. In addition, since 2001, the program has earned 29 regional Emmys -- 27 from NATAS’ Mid-America chapter in St. Louis, and two from the Chicago Midwest Chapter.

In addition to the College Television Award, alt.news 26:46 received a Gold Plaque for “Best Student Produced Television Show” at the 47th Hugo Television Awards for the same episode.

Damian and Reed noted the many hours put into the winning episode. The awards show that “the hard work everyone put in was well worth it,” Damian said.

“We are thrilled with the win,” Reed said. “The competition was top notch and it's still a little unbelievable that we came through like we did. I'm absolutely thrilled.”

Damian is a senior in radio-television from Carbondale and will graduate in May 2012. Reed, a senior in cinema and photography from Grayslake, will graduate next month. She is the first female executive producer to win a College Television Award for alt.news, Thompson said.

A total of 13 current alt.news 26:46 staff, and five alt.news alumni attended the awards show in California, Thompson said. While in Hollywood, current students toured the “Light Iron” post-production facility of founders and alt.news 26:46 alumni Michael Cioni and Ian Vertovic. Thompson said that about 25 former program alumni are in Los Angeles and showed up at a variety of events to meet the current alt.news crew.

“I think what is most amazing about the show in terms of its continued success is that every year the executive producers change and a new staff comes in along with them,” Damian said, noting that six of 10 staff members were new this year.

“So every year the style of the show changes. There’s a new theme, the graphics are different, the set is new, and the idea of changing things is really what the show is about,” he said.

Damian and Kelly said support from the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts is integral to the program’s success.

Alt.news 26:46 airs on WSIU-TV. The sixth episode for season No. 12 is at 10 p.m. Sunday, May 8, with an encore presentation at 10 p.m., May 15. More information is available at http://an2646.com/.