Coming in first the alternative way

Three groups of nominees awaited their names to be called for first place in the category of Best Magazine Program during the College Television Awards until actress Amy Garcia broke the silence. 

For the second consecutive year, SIU’s 26:46 won first place, competing against Bates Technical College and the University of Southern California.

Matt Sloan, a senior from Germantown, Tenn., studying television and digital media radio, and Marcus Odom, a senior from Carbondale studying cinema and photography, both reached the stage with smiles on their faces to accept their recognition April 23 at the Television Academy’s Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre in Los Angeles.

“My mind was racing in the theater that night as we watched clips play from all the nominees on the screen,” Sloan said.

Every year the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Foundation recognizes the work of students in produced video, as well as digital and film work, during the College Television Awards. The ceremony awards students with trophies, cash and industry recognition.

Sloan and Odom are both executive producers of the student-run television program and also work alongside nine staff members and more than 50 student volunteers.

The award-winning episode, #1504, featured the coverage of a National Beard and Mustache Championship in New Orleans, a Land of Oz theme park in North Carolina, the Emma Crawford Coffin Race in Manitou, Colo., and the armory of “Dragon Man.”

“We put an incredible amount of time and work into our episodes and we produce six-plus every year, “ Odom said. “We are competing against colleges that have much bigger budgets than ours, much more time to spend on their projects and much more advanced equipment at times, so it is definitely pretty nerve-wracking.”

Sloan said Tuesday was spent with Odom at the Nominee Summit, where they received insight from directors and producers who have been through the industry.

Odom said Los Angeles, a city dedicated to film, gave the students an idea of what could be in store for their futures.

Marta Bender, a senior from Morrison studying cinema and photography, said has been the most valuable part of her education.

“For me personally, this year was particularly special because I produced and edited both a segment and a comedy sketch that were included in the winning episode,” she said.

Bender said there was no better way to end her academic experience at SIU. The experience she had in Los Angeles could only be described as incredible.

“There is a huge network of alumni in L.A.,” she said. “The community is a big family, and everyone there is so willing to help you, even if they have never met you before. I am so proud, so happy. It honestly could not be more perfect.”

To win this year, had to continue to evolve from how it was previously constructed and had to feel like two very different works, Sloan said.

“A mad scientist hosted this season, which is a ridiculous turn from what we’ve done in the past,” he said.

As a student who’s also coming to the end of his career at SIU, has made an impact on Sloan’s life by promoting growth and professionalism, he said.

“We competed and won against top schools like USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism,” Sloan said. “When people see that, it stands out as impressive.”

Student producers plan to continue their legacy of award-winning work. This is the seventh national award won by 26:46.

Brittany Pettiford can be reached at, on Twitter at @BPettiford_DE or at 536-3311 ext. 268

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