expands student knowledge beyond the classroom

By Gus Bode

Awards help students accomplish career goals appears every Wednesday at 4 p.m. on SPC-TV, an on-campus channel.

The staff of 26:46 has been pulling all-nighters to work on a rock video in hopes for another Emmy.

Advertisement produces a variety of topics from entertaining features, the journey for the best-tasting pizza, to serious programming, the Carbondale Halloween riots.

The student-produced alternative news show is a program through WSIU-TV and began as a short human interest feature appearing once a week on WSIU-TV River Region News. In 1999 two college students realized the potential to create a program that would test the limits of their abilities and expand their knowledge beyond the classroom.

It worked. A few weeks ago, received three regional Emmys that will add to their collection for a total of seven. They are also being broadcast every Wednesday at 4 p.m. on SPC-TV, the closed-circuit student station.

Created in 1994 by Aaron Lindenthaler, was expanded in 1999 to a half an hour program, or in terms of television production, 26:46 for 26 minutes and 46 seconds.

From its beginnings, has attracted students with the willingness and drive to exceed the expectations for college students.

When Michael Cioni and Ian Vertovec were producers for in 1999, they felt that the stories were not fully developed because of time limits.

After a semester, they produced the first pilot episode that was soon awarded first place in the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences College Television Awards. From there, Cioni and his colleagues traveled to California – the haven for filmmakers.


“All of a sudden became a bridge from Southern Illinois to California,” Cioni said.

Cioni and Vertovec also wanted to keep on the cutting edge of technology. After they graduated, they continued to stay on top of the industry. The SIUC alums currently work in Hollywood for Christopher Coppola on post-production for the second high-definition movie in history, “Bloodhead.”

After had proved its potential, students found that producing the program by using equipment from outside sources had to change. finally has an editing room, a camera and a computer.

Brittany Dust, a junior in radio-television from Effingham, is also the producer of Hi-Q, a game show for high school students. She, like many of the participants in, is involved in more than just, so obtaining equipment at a time when these busy students can get together was difficult.

“It’s easier this year because in the past we had to figure out where we could borrow equipment and where we were going to edit, and this year it makes it easier that we have our own room and our own camera,” she said.

All-nighters are common for students. Students feel at home in the small editing room adorned with posters and two comfortable couches where the lights are dim – perfect for editing video.

But above all, is a learning experience, and because of video editing programs on personal computers, more students are entering with considerable knowledge about producing.

Otto Arsenault, a junior in cinema and photography from Chicago, and Brian Ehman, a senior in radio-television from Glenwood, are co-executive producers of They are pleased with the knowledge of new students.

“They are far more advanced than we were when we were freshmen,” Arsenault said. “Anybody can edit a movie on their laptop and it has leveled the playing field. I think it’s impressive and encouraging.”

Even though students arrive with prior experience, they learn from working as a group and keeping up with advances in technology.

“I learned a lot of what I know through and through WSIU-TV because you really don’t get into the meat of your major for two to three years,” Dust said. “ has taught me everything I need to know and I’m still learning.” is gearing up for the future by applying for funds, looking to expand space and improving the quality and content of the show. Another possibility is an advance in technology, such as moving to a higher resolution picture.

“The point of has always been to take the knowledge you get in the classroom and expand it; push it as far as you can,” said Ehman. “We were the first program to go all digital and the first to go wide screen. The next cutting edge is high definition or 24p. As for content, we’re always looking for new ideas.”

As for attracting more students to, Arsenault said that the first step is attracting students to SIUC.

And for the next few months, Arsenault and staffers will continue to work on their projects. As a team, they hope to produce another award-winning program.

“We’re trying to build a solid foundation so when people come to this University, they can create their projects,” he said.

Reporter Lindsey J. Mastis can be reached at [email protected]