September 01, 2011

‘ 26:46’, documentary earn recognition

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The hard work and dedication of Southern Illinois University Carbondale students involved with “ 26:46” continue to earn professional recognition.

The student-produced television program earned two nominations for regional Emmys earlier this week from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Mid-America Regional Chapter Emmy Awards.  The award-winning half-hour alternative TV news magazine earned nominations in the magazine program and specialty program categories. has earned an Emmy in the competition’s magazine news show category the past four straight years, and five out of the last six years.

In addition to the student recognition, Jan Thompson, an associate professor in radio-television and documentary unit director, earned three nominations for her half-hour documentary “The Tragedy of Bataan,” which aired in spring 2010 on WSIU-TV.  Thompson is also the 26:46 faculty adviser.

Thompson earned nominations in the documentary/historical; musical composition/arrangements; and writer: program/program feature (non-news) categories. The documentary features first-hand accounts from 15 Bataan Death March survivors.  Between 5,000 and 15,000 of the more than 75,000 American and Filipino prisoners did not survive the 65-mile forced march in the spring of 1942.

The 35th annual awards ceremony is Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Renaissance Grand St. Louis.  Actress Nikki Boyer, who also earned a regional Emmy and is a graduate of Webster University in St. Louis, will host the awards.

The chapter is comprised of television markets primarily in Southern Illinois, central Illinois, Arkansas, Missouri, and surrounding designated market areas, or DMAs, according to event organizers.’ tradition continues with the nominations for professional Emmys, said Gary P. Kolb, dean of the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts.

“We couldn't be more proud of these students who research, create, and produce this award- winning program year after year,” he said.  “Literally hundreds of students have been involved with since its inception and it is a great example of the hands-on opportunities that our students have in the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts.  These folks go on to be the media industries leaders of the future.”

The continuing success is a source of pride, said Dafna Lemish, chair of the Department of Radio-Television.

“They are a dedicated, hard-working and creative group of students who are just committed to producing exciting and meaningful media content,” Lemish said. “It only goes to show how the hands-on opportunities provided to our students, combined with talents and hard work, give them a huge advantage in the professional world even before they make their first step in the market searching for jobs.”

The student nominations are for outstanding achievement by individuals and programs broadcast between April 1, 2010, and March 31, 2011.

“It’s always exciting to see the students recognized for their hard work and their talent.  It’s even more exciting when it’s in the professional world,” Thomson said.

Dylan Damian and Kelly E. Reed were the program’s executive producers for the two shows nominated. Damian, who is from Carbondale, is a senior with a double major in television production and cinema, and will graduate in May 2012. Reed, who is from Grayslake, graduated in May with a degree in cinema.

The 26:46 magazine program nominee is for episode 1203, which aired Jan. 30. 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.”  The episode 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 in April. Segment producers for the show were Susan Shirclifff, Kevin Ryan, Jenna Tromburg, and Kathryn Voves.

Shircliff is a senior in cinema from Prospect, Ky.; Ryan is a senior in cinema from Springfield; Tromburg is a senior in cinema from Centennial, Colo., and Voves is a sophomore in cinema from Glen Ellyn.

The specialty program nominee is for episode 1205, which aired March 27, and took a look at the music scene with “Less Than Jake,” “Here Come the Mummies,” “The Punch Brothers,” and “Dickwolf.” Segment producers for the program were Shircliff and Ryan.

According to current records, the show won five 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.

The program begins its 13th season Oct. 9 with the season premiere set for 10 p.m. on WSIU-TV Channel 8. More information is available at  Damian, Beth Radtke, a junior in television production from Tinley Park, and Kyle Loughrin, a senior in television production from Loves Park, are the executive producers.

Thompson’s work, meanwhile, sets a tone as an example for the students, Lemish said.

“She herself is an active documentarian who is putting out high-quality work on topics of social significance that attracts national attention well beyond our region,” Lemish said. “Her recent work ‘The Tragedy at Bataan’, being nominated for three different awards brings her -- as well as the department of Radio-TV as a whole -- great prestige and pride. With so many award-winning and dedicated faculty and students, this is a great place to be in for your professional education these days.”

During the project, Thompson interviewed more than 65 veterans over a 17-year period.

“It’s nice to be recognized in the best historical documentary category, but it’s even more special when you are recognized for writing the music and writing the script,” Thompson said.

“Professor Thompson's new project on the Bataan Death March will be recognized as the definitive media piece on this tragic chapter in history,” Kolb said.  “We are very proud of her determination to bring recognition to the heroic efforts of the American and Filipino soldiers who lost their lives and those who struggled through this tragedy.  She continues to be a mainstay of our documentary production tradition at SIUC.”

An updated version of the half-hour documentary will air nationally on PBS stations this fall with actor Alec Baldwin doing the narration.  WSIU-TV will broadcast the documentary at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 11.