Award-winning broadcast program finds new home at Eureka College
An award-winning radio and television broadcast program lost a home at Lincoln College when the institution closed in May. Now, it has a second life, as the studios packed up and moved across central Illinois to Eureka College’s Pritchard Hall.
“In late April, I met with the administration of Eureka College and explored the possibility of accepting a position here,” said Dr. John Malone, associate professor of communication and general manager of Television and Radio Operations. “And my existing president at Lincoln strongly encouraged (Dr. Jamel Wright, president of Eureka College) that this would be a perfect program for Eureka.”
Malone says he never imagined Eureka would fully adopt the program “lock, stock and barrel."
“They did and allowed a great, you know, for me a great soft landing,” he said. “But more importantly, for the students to be able to just transition seamlessly in the same program that they had.”
That doesn’t mean the transition was easy. Malone, Operations Manager Bud Broyles and assisting students moved an entire radio broadcast studio, a radio production studio and a television news studio with at least six cameras more than 50 miles.
“In commercial radio, I’ve been involved in several relocations,” said Malone. “But one under such a fast timetable like this, that happens so suddenly, I’ve never been in before. To have to do this in a matter of months was literally seven day weeks, 15 hour days, just under constant pressure. But it was well worth it.”
Six students from Lincoln College even followed Malone, Broyles and the program over to Eureka. Spencer Davis, student station manager for the newly formed WEUR and ECTV, is one of those six students. He says that at the start of this new program it’s “all hands on deck.”
“All six of us, right now, have expertise,” he said. “We have knowledge in this type of thing and lots of experience between all of us.”
Students of the former Lincoln program also have the awards to back up these claims. The stations received more than 20 regional and national awards since starting in 2016.
“We were really successful at the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System last year,” said Davis. “And we’re looking to replicate that success here for many years to come.”
For Davis and the other students, there was a two-month period where they didn’t know the future of the Lincoln College broadcasting program. He says getting the news they were moving to Eureka was a huge relief.
“Now it really feels like we’re back,” Davis said. “And we’re really, really excited to show off what we can do.”
The content featured on the radio and television stations includes music, educational programming, student films, talk shows and Eureka college sports. Both stations have been carrying broadcasts of the men’s and women’s basketball games. The television station will also play on screens across the campus.
Broyles says the station will film a weekly newscast.
“Start with news, weather, sports,” he said. “And we also have commentary. We used to bring in different people.”
Whatever the programming, Broyles is excited to get started in the new facility.
“I like the idea of walking in and everything is where it should be. And it works,” he said. “You know, if your cameras work, your teleprompters work and everything, you’re in good shape.”
Davis has his own reason to appreciate the new studios in Pritchard Hall.
“At Lincoln, it was two separate buildings,” he said. “So when it’s snowing, like today, it’s nice to not have to walk a quarter of a mile to the next building.”
Davis, Broyles and Nelson all agree that another benefit of bringing the program to Eureka is being able to offer students practical experience in media production. Davis says students are trained in every part of a newscast: anchoring, producing, camera operating, audio and video editing and more.
“Everyone’s creating content and being able to learn how to do it in an organized and structured manner, that prepares them for a career in creating content,” said Malone. “I’ve got a great track record of graduating students and getting them into the industry. I want to see that continue.”
Dr. Jamel Wright, president of Eureka College, says adopting the program offers something unique for students and the wider community.
“Not only are young people content creators," she said, "but so many others of us and so many people in our community are content creators. So having a space in our area where people can come and create fun and exciting and informative content is something that is exciting to me.”
The studios are already broadcasting, but in the spring semester students will be able to work in them to earn credit for Eureka’s communications program. Davis says he and the other former Lincoln students are hard at work creating the majority of the content right now, but they’re also looking towards recruiting.
“I think that once people hear about it, and I think they’re going to, there’s going to be a lot of people interested,” said Davis. “And I’m really looking forward to meeting all these people.”