Archive for December, 2015

What Does EIU Want? Alt TV!

December 18, 2015

At 6:45 p.m. on a Wednesday, a crowd slowly files up the stairs to Top of the Roc in downtown Charleston. The second floor of the family-owned restaurant no longer has public events, but they make an exception once a semester.

Students, faculty, family, community members and a few hold-overs from Free Music Friday sit in chairs, on stools and on the stairs. The late arrivals find themselves jostling for a sightline to the spiderweb-shaped screen in the front of the room.

“This my fourth screening and I still get that anxious and excited feeling each time I go,” said senior communication studies major James Bateman. The crowd teemed with excitement and the members of Alt TV all shared in the feeling. It was 6:58 p.m. on a Wednesday, and over a hundred people gathered in a room to watch television together. Alt-TV-logo-2015

Since 2012, the Alternative Television and Film Club at EIU, or as it is lovingly known “Alt TV,” has produced a full episode of television without any external funding or censorship. Students work together communally to create truly innovative and interesting television and screen it in public once a semester.

At 7 p.m., the event commenced when the club’s advisor Dr. Scott Walus walked up to the front of the room. Acting as one part master of ceremonies and one part carnival barker, Walus worked the crowd before introducing everyone who had produced a video that night. Each name was greeted by an enthusiastic cheer from the crowd and a 2.25 inch Alt TV button by Walus. After one final cheer, the room went silent and the show began to play.

As the show played on the large spiderweb screen, the audience reacted like they were attending a midnight screening of their favorite film. “It was a great thing to see this was the biggest crowd we ever had,” said Bateman, “It’s cool to see a big crowd laugh or be moved be your work.” Graduating senior Brandon Barker agreed, “It’s a very accomplishing feeling to actually see a large group of people engaged and laughing at something I created. It’s just motivation to keep getting better.”

The episode had the longest total running time to date, clocking in at 52 minutes. The screening kept up the momentum for its entire duration, culminating with a raucous applause that lasted the duration of the ending credits and a crowd who spent a half an hour socializing about the screening after it concluded. The power of that applause and those midnight movie-esque reactions reverberate far beyond the night of the screening.

“I attended my first Alt TV screening last year, and this year being a part of Alt TV and having produced a film, my experience at the event can only be explained as a moment of clarity’ said Hillary Fuller, a senior communication major, “Being there with so many people, watching the same thing I was, showed me why I joined. I was waiting for this moment to see my work displayed.”

The screening provides both motivation and reward for the craft of television and film production. The As graduating senior and former Alt TV president Kayla Myers said, “I love seeing people grow in film and see their reactions when they see their work at the screening. I love the screening because we finally get to show off all of our hard work and seeing people love what you made is a feeling like no other. I will miss this group so much, but I have loved every minute of it.”


The Alternative Television and Film Club at EIU at the screening of Episode 7 at Top of the Roc in downtown Charleston. All members took part in the production of the episode by acting, writing, producing, editing, directing or being part of a crew.

Buried in the excitement of the screening, lies the true purpose of Alt TV: Students make friends as they make videos and become better people as they produce better television. When asked about what made Alt TV special to them, nearly every member echoed the aforementioned sentiment.

Incoming co-president of Alt TV Dakota Pruemer said, “My favorite part about being in Alt TV is the friendships I’ve made because of working together. It’s hard to find people to work on videos with you, and it’s even harder to find people who half know what they’re talking about. I’ve learned so much about making videos, and being a better person because of Alt TV.”

“My favorite part of Alt TV is the people,” said Fuller, “No matter who you are, how experienced you are with film or how long you’ve been in Alt TV, the members make it a mission to make you feel comfortable being yourself and appreciate the art form that is filming. You are never just a member you really become their friends.”

Myers succinctly agreed, “I made some of my best friends in this group and we all get to share the love of film together.”

Work on Episode 8 begins during the spring semester and Alt TV enthusiastically welcomes new members from any major, undergraduate or graduate. Additional information can be found at



EIU Speech Team Continues Success in Final Tournaments of 2015

December 18, 2015

The EIU Speech had excellent showings on Nov. 7/8 and 14/15 at their final two tournaments of 2015.

At the 68th annual L.E. Norton Memorial Tournament at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. the team had their best placing in over ten years. The showing included Marques Brown appearing in the quarterfinals of Prose and Austin Mejdrich in the semifinals of Impromptu. Brown and Mejdrich finished in front of 100 and 70 other competitors respectively.

The tournament is by invitation and the largest collegiate speech tournament in the nation. According to the Bradley University newspaper, “The Scout,” 41 teams from 20 states attended the event. These teams spanned from across the entire country including universities from California, Florida, Texas and Nebraska.

The team’s final tournament of the 2015 fall semester was the debut City of Cedars Swing Tournament at McKendree University in Lebanon, Ill. They competed against 14 other universities and colleges from a multi-state area.

The Speech Panthers’ success in the tournament demonstrated the overall strength of the team as five team members reached final events. Mejdrich won both the Informative and Persuasion events. He also took fourth place in Extemporaneous and fifth place in Impromptu. Brown placed second in Program Oral Interpretation and fifth in prose. Edwyn Mitchell placed third in Persuasion, Cheyenne Flores placed sixth in Persuasion and Sam Gilbert placed third in Pentathlon. The Pentathlon is the total score of five combined events.

In the spring 2016 semester, the EIU Speech Team will look to continue their success from 2015 at the UIUC/UIS Swing (Champaign, Ill. / Feb. 6-7), the Pi Kappa Delta Nationals (Lexington, Ky. / March 17-20) and NFA Nationals (Muncie, Ind. / April 14-18).


The Speech Panthers display their hardware at the City of Cedars Swing Tournament at McKendree University in November 2015.


Annual Persuasive Speaking Competition Spotlights Public Speaking

December 18, 2015

Twenty-one students enrolled in Introduction to Speech Communication delivered original persuasive speeches at the annual Smith-Merritt Speaking Competition.

Each year, the persuasive speaking contest provides a platform for students to deliver speeches on provocative topics to students, friends and faculty. The top six from the preliminary round performed their speeches in Lumpkin Auditorium to an attentive crowd.

The overall winner of the competition was freshman communication major Edwyn Mitchell from Flossmoor, IL. His speech argued against Internet restrictions and demonstrated how they present a danger to democracy.

The second place speech was by freshman psychology and pre-med major Samantha Boomgarden from Bloomington, IL. Her speech contended that direct-to-consumer prescription drug ads should be banned in the U.S. The third place speech was by Lauren Eberle, a sophomore sociology major from Crystal Lake, IL. Her speech topic asserted that transgender individuals should not face bathroom discrimination.


The top three speakers from the 2015 Smith-Merritt Speaking Competition (left to right): Edwyn Mitchell, Lauren Eberle and Samantha Boomgarden.

The three top speakers received prizes of $500, $300 and $100 respectively. All finalists, which also included Kelsie Walden, Nate Speedy and Nia Butler, received certificates of recognition. Communication studies faculty members provided the judging for the competition.

The Smith-Merritt Speaking Contest is held in honor of Calvin Smith and Floyd Merritt, two former communication studies faculty members. Entry is open to all students currently enrolled in CMN 1310 or CMN 1390.


Event Brings Together EIU and Charleston Communities

December 15, 2015

Students and faculty from the Department of Communication Studies brought together the collective stories of the Charleston and EIU communities in front of a crowded Grand Ball Room in the MLK Union on December 2.

At the event students from three communication courses shared the findings from the interviews that the conducted with EIU students, faculty, and administrators, as well as Charleston leadership and community members. The stories focused on community and relationships, tensions and the declining sense of place, and the hope for evolution and transformation.

Dr. Elizabeth Gill, Dr. Angela Jacobs and Dr. Linda Scholz collaborated to orchestrate the unique event. They worked with students in Introduction to Interpersonal Communication, Advanced Interpersonal Communication and Communication Race and Ethnicity to gather interviews on campus and community relationships.

The event focused not only on the challenges facing the EIU and Charleston communities, but also strategies to build community and to address these challenges.

Considered a success by students and faculty alike, University President Dr. David Glassman commented on the importance of the event for EIU, “I was pleased to see… such a large and enthusiastic audience in attendance. Through both presentation and discussion, individuals addressed such issues as racism and misconceptions. Many valuable ideas were shared… Cameron Douglas, a senior communication studies major, was quoted in the Daily Eastern News as saying ‘the event was just a step toward something bigger… What we do now does not stop at that door; it starts at that door.’ I agree with that profound statement and pledge the university will continue to work diligently and purposefully toward fostering a more positive campus climate.”

The event overall demonstrates the possibilities of communication theory and research for promoting positive community change.


Panoramic photo of the attendees of “This is EIU: Layered Stories of Community, Its Challenges and Its Potential” at The Grand Ballroom at the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union on December 2, 2015.


Professor Wins University Award for Contributions in Teaching, Research and Service

December 15, 2015

Associate Professor Richard Jones, Jr. won an Achievement and Contribution Award in recognition of his productive year of teaching, research, and service.

In the area of teaching, Jones routinely receives exceptionally positive evaluations from his students, both undergraduate and graduate. Additionally, Jones has been teaching communication teachers at EIU since 2010. As the Basic Course Director he teaches masters how to teach CMN 1310, Introduction to Speech Communication. Jones_Headshot_2012

In the area of research, Jones had several publications during the 2014-2015 school year including a book, a peer-reviewed journal article and a chapter in an edited volume.

Kendall-Hunt published his course manual and resource book “CMN 1310: An Introduction to Speech Communication.” The peer-reviewed journal “Qualitative Inquiry” published his article “Queering the Body Politic: Interactional Reflexivity in the Body Narratives of Queer Men.” He also contributed a chapter to the edited volume “Critical Articulations of Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation.”

Through his website “Communication in the Real World” ( he reaches an average of 3,304 unique visitors a month. Due to his excellence in research and reach of this research, the journal “Departures in Critical Qualitative Research” invited him to join the guest editorial board.

In the area of service, Jones continues to excel in community and university service/involvement. He was a member of eight university service committees including the Making Inclusive Excellence Team, the Committee on Disabilities Initiatives, and the CAA Learning Goals Committee. On the departmental level, he was a member of five committees including the Department Personnel Committee, the Basic Course Committee, and the Assessment Committee.

In the discipline, Jones reviewed manuscripts for six journals including “Feminist Media Studies,” “Qualitative Research in Sports Studies” and “Urban Studies.” In the Charleston community, Jones acted in, directed, and produced theatre for the Community Theatre of Charleston and Central Illinois Stage Company. Additionally, he led a Safe Zone training presentation for the Charleston High School Faculty.

Jones previously won an Achievement and Contribution Award for service in 2013 and for balanced (teaching/research/service) in 2011.


EIU Students Win Awards in Statewide Broadcasting Contest

December 12, 2015

Five current and recently graduated EIU students received awards in the 2015 Illinois Student Silver Dome Awards competition.

The statewide contest for college broadcasters is sponsored by the Illinois Broadcasters Association and honors the top media production students in Illinois. This year’s awards continues the trend of awards won by EIU students at the annual event. IBA-logo

EIU students swept the top three positions for Best TV Weathercaster. Derrick Jackson (first), Braden Harp (second) and Lacey Clifton (third) all demonstrated the quality of broadcast meteorology at EIU.

Also representing EIU, Jesse Guinn won second place for the Best Radio Promo and Michael Moy won third place for Best TV Longform Program.

The students received their awards in November at the Illinois Broadcasters Association’s annual IBA-U Student Broadcasting Conference in Normal.


Redden Grants Bolster Media Production, Public Relations & Forensics

December 10, 2015

Three faculty members from the Department of Communication Studies received Redden Grants they will use to acquire television sports production equipment, for building a public relations case studies archive, and for funding the EIU Speech Team’s travel to a national competition.

Established in 1978, communication studies faculty have often applied for Redden Grants to acquire educational materials and to fund travel for undergraduate students. The grants awarded in 2015 will support academic and professional development in the areas of electronic media production, public relations and forensics.

Electronic Media Production

Mike Bradd, an associate professor and associate chair of the department, received a grant to fund equipment for covering sporting events on television.


Mike Bradd (L) calls an EIU men’s basketball game with Jack Ashmore (R).

Bradd described the equipment, “We purchased a shoulder rig  that provides better stability for a camera operator who can’t use a tripod, like the camera under the basket at a basketball game. Also, we purchased remote zoom controls that make it easier for camera operators to zoom their camera in and out when covering a live sports event.”

Bradd emphasized how the equipment will prepare students for future professional environments, “This equipment will help give our students a more realistic professional experience, and help them polish their shooting skills and become more proficient at shooting live sports,” said Bradd.

Public Relations

Dr. Claudia Janssen Danyi, assistant professor in the department, worked with Steve Brantley, Booth Library’s head of references and instructional services, to purchase public relations case studies in order to a build a digital case study platform for CMN 4920.

Claudia Janssen

Claudia Janssen Danyi works on the public relations case studies platform in Coleman Hall.

Janssen Danyi described what she acquired, as well as its future possibilities, “We purchased a variety of additional digital case study books and articles. These resources will become part of a dynamic case study platform, which instructors and students can add to each semester, for instance, by linking to media coverage on recent cases that come up throughout each semester, and by contributing their own case studies produced for the course.”

Similar to Bradd’s production equipment purchase, Janssen Danyi’s new case study platform promotes both academic and professional development. “Studying past and recent cases of public relations problems, challenges and solution is an important way for student to prepare for their PR careers. It allows them to apply and reflect their knowledge, analyze situations, and learn from others’ mistakes as well as from best practices. The platform will also allow students to ‘publish’ their own case analyses and share them with a broader audience,” said Janssen Danyi.

EIU Forensics

Sara Gronstal, head of the EIU speech team and communication studies instructor, secured funds to send the EIU Speech Team to Pi Kappa Delta National Tournament.


EIU Speech Team president Marcus Brown and director of forensics Sara Gonstral

Gronstal discussed the importance of attending the tournament for both the team and individuals alike, “The Redden Grant will allow our students to compete at the national level against students from colleges and  universities across the nation. Our students spend weeks and months honing their performances, and getting to travel to a national tournament and showcase all that hard work is an amazing opportunity. Last year, two of our students, Marques Brown and Austin Mejdrich, brought home some

Attending the national tournament has benefits for students long after the tournament concludes. “Attending a national tournament helps students gain confidence in their own voice and allows our EIU Speech Panthers to not only deliver messages they are passionate about, but to learn from others. Our students bring these messages back to campus and help change our community for the better – from participating in student programs on campus, to speaking up in class, to developing better speaking and writing skills, the students are able to translate these skills into life long lessons,” said Gronstal.

About Redden Grants

According to Eastern Illinois University, Jack Redden endured financial difficulties while a student at EIU from 1923-1926. In 1977, he donated money to create the awards that may be used for anything that improves undergraduate instruction.