Alt TV Screens Episode 8 to Capacity Crowd in Downtown Charleston

June 4, 2016

The Alternative Television and Film Club at EIU screened its eighth episode of original television in front of a capacity crowd at Top of the Roc in downtown Charleston on April 27.

While the upstairs portion of Roc’s Blackfront Restaurant has not been open to the public for the previous six months, they made an exception for Alt TV. The club has now aired all eight of their episodes there, and the crowd of EIU students, community members, and fans of the series has grown with each screening.


The cast and crew of Alt TV Episode 8 pose at Top of the Roc in downtown Charleston, Ill.

The video content of the club is truly independent and alternative as the members of the club create videos for the screening each semester outside of coursework and without external funding. The club works as a collective where members all contribute to the productions of each member.

The content of this screening was incredibly diverse. In addition to their trademark absurd comedy shorts, this episode included political drama, horror, and even an animated short.

In addition to the screening, the leadership of the club transitioned from Kris Wilcox to Ty Yunk, who

will join Dakota Pruemer as co-president of Alt TV. Wilcox, Alt TV’s only four year member, graduated the following week and accepted a position at WCIA in Champaign, IL.

Alt TV will return with Episode 9 during the last month of the Fall 2016 semester. For more information on the club go to



Communication Studies Student Excellence Honored at Annual Ceremony

June 4, 2016

On April 10, the Department of Communication held its annual Scholarships and Awards ceremony honoring undergraduate and graduate student excellence.

While previous years have focused on the dozen annual awards presented by the Department of Communication Studies, the 2016 event moved to Lumpkin Auditorium and included recognizing Lambda Pi Eta, the EIU Speech Panthers and the Bock Research Competition winners.

The annual event began with Drs. Angie Jacobs and Rich Jones cording eight graduating members of the communication studies honor society, Lambda Pi Eta. Two current members of the organization then inducted seven new members into the society.

Lumpkin Hall

Next, Drs. Beth Gill and Rich Jones presented the annual scholarships and awards, many of which have been awarded for several decades and were established by former communication studies and speech communication faculty.

Dr. Jones, who was also a member on the Scholarship and Awards Committee, stated, “In April, the month of events and celebrations, this particular event allows us all to take a moment to recognize the accomplishments of our wonderful students.”

Dr. Angie Jacobs then presented awards to the top three papers in the Doug Bock Undergraduate Research Competition. Dr. Bock is a former professor in the department as well as a former chair. The papers are selected and submitted by faculty and then reviewed by members of Lambda Pi Eta.

To conclude the evening, EIU Speech Team coach Sara Gronstal honored the Speech Panther’ achievements for the year and then Marques Brown and Austin Mejdrich each performed an award-winning speech program.

A complete list of the 2015-2016 scholarship and award winners can be found below:

Department of Communication Studies Scholarships and Awards

  • Marques Brown (Outstanding Senior)
  • Natalie Standley (Outstanding Junior)
  • Kyle Ruckert (Outstanding Lab Assistant)
  • Krystal Moore (Inspired Achievement)
  • Clinton Brown (Outstanding Graduate Student)
  • Chloe Gottschalk (Kenneth E. Hadwiger PhD Undergraduate Scholarship)
  • Derek Wunder (Jack L. Payan Scholarship)
  • Mallory Winkeler (Betty Lou Balasi Scholarship)
  • Jessica Brown (J. Glenn Ross Scholarship)
  • Kallie Koester (Carol Manhart Scholarship & Illinois Broadcasters Association Scholarship)
  • Ryan Howard (Kenneth E. Hadwiger PhD Graduate Scholarship)
  • Kelli Halfman (John J. Hopkins Memorial Speech Education Scholarship)
  • Austin Mejdrich (Ralph Y. McGinnis Scholarship)

Doug Bock Undergraduate Research Competition

  • 1st – Anne Petit, “Writing Papers at a College Level: Communication Between Students and Professors”
  • 2nd – Tori Daniels, “Communication and Language Changes within the LGBTQIA+ Culture”
  • 3rd – Alex Seidler, “The Pressure Is On: A Study of Communication Between Tas and Stuents”

Lambda Pi Eta

  • Graduating Seniors: Jenny Awah-Manga, Mackenzie Buob, Angela Engebretson, Kristin Fox, Amy Gebka, Jordan Landeck, Emily Mitchell, Nicole Weatherford
  • New Members: Mackenzie Buob, Colleen Danaher, Rachelle, Krausen, Jordan Landeck, Amanda Lewis, Robyn McKeown, Derek Wunder


Students and Faculty “Comm Together” at Annual Comm Day

June 4, 2016

On April 6, communication studies students and faculty connected through communication at the annual Comm Day event in Coleman Hall.

The event featured 17 interactive panels throughout the day hosted by communication studies faculty as well as professionals in the field. The panels ranged in topic from assembling an effective demo reel to understanding how conspiracy theories are communicated to learning about programs available in the department.

The chair of the Department of Communication Studies Dr. Stephen King stated, “Communication Day showcases the wonderful breadth and diversity of the communication discipline. The theme of ‘Connecting and Communicating for a Better Tomorrow’ perfectly captures how our communication practices can be used to connect and identify with others as well as solve a variety of social, cultural and political problems.”


Comm Day began in the 1960s as a week filled with Rhetoric and Public Speaking activities. It was called “Speech Week,” as the department was then called Speech Communication and the events lasted for an entire week.

Over the previous 50 years, both faculty and students have shaped the direction of this event into having its current balance between each concentration as well as between research and the applied.

Each planner of Comm Day provides a different incarnation of the event. The 2016 planner, Associate Professor Dr. Angie Jacobs, promoted connection between all participants in every area of the event from the opening ceremonies that provided history on the event to a communal lunch with students and faculty to the inclusion of every area of the department into the event.

At the end of the event, Dr. Jacobs hosted the closing ceremonies with a final round of prizes that were donated by local business. The department then honored office administrator Kim Turner for her years of service to the department.

Comm Day is scheduled for April 2017 and more information can be found at


Annual Broadcast Job Fair to Connect Students and Professionals

March 12, 2016

Each year, the Department of Communication Studies hosts the Broadcast Job Fair to connect students and industry professionals.

In 2015, more than 80 students attended the Broadcast Job Fair to advance their professional goals. In 2016, the event provides the same opportunities of professional development.

The event occurs on Wednesday, March 30, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the University Ballroom at the EIU Union.

There will be representatives from area radio and television stations to meet with students and discuss job openings and internships as well as how to prepare for a career in the electronic media industry.

The following 14 companies have committed to attend:

The Broadcast Fair is open to all interested EIU students, as well as people from the community. There is no charge to attend.


EIU Speech Team Places Third in Team Sweepstakes at Illini Stars Swing Tournament

February 23, 2016

The EIU Speech Panthers had an excellent overall showing at the Illini Stars Swing Tournament on February 7 and 8 at the University of Illinois. The team placed third overall in the team sweepstakes.


In addition to the team success, many Speech Panthers had individual success in the competition.

Edwyn Mitchell was the tournament champion in After Dinner Speaking as well as the top novice in the event. With Marques Brown, the pair won first place in Duo.

Brown had individual success throughout the tournament as well. He placed second in Individual Sweepstakes, third in Prose Interpretation, sixth in Dramatic Interpretation and sixth in After Dinner Speaking.

Other Speech Panthers also contributed to the team win with their individual success. Austin Mejdrich placed third in Informative Speaking, fifth in After Dinner Speaking, and sixth in Persuasive Speaking and Sam Gilbert took second in Dramatic Interpretation and sixth in Prose Interpretation. He was also the top novice in both events.

After this strong overall team showing, the Speech Panthers are preparing to come home to EIU for the EIU Speech Panthers Spring Showcase at Coleman Hall. The event happens on Wednesday, April 6.


Speech Team Member Austin Mejdrich Named EIU’s Real Panther of the Week

February 23, 2016

Eastern Illinois University recognized Speech Team standout Austin Mejdrich as its Real Panther of the Week. Mejdrich recently was one of the student organizers of the Fund EIU Rally and delivered a truly memorable speech to the 2,000 individuals in attendance.

Direct from EIU:

“Meet this week’s #RealPanther, Austin Mejdrich. We couldn’t ask for a better advocate for EIU than this junior political science major.

Austin – as one of the student leaders of the Fund EIU Rally – not only helped organize the rally in six days, but also gave an impassioned speech that ignited cheers from more than 2,000 students, staff and community members.

Like most of our students, Austin is involved with a variety of campus activities, from speech team to organizing activism for higher education and his passion for EIU is contagious. A Charleston native himself, Austin understands more than anyone the connection between Charleston and EIU. When Austin isn’t studying or supporting campus, he works at a local business, Towne Square Jewelers.

His motivation for supporting EIU simply comes from his love of the EIU way of life, where someone will go out of your way to open a door or say hello. “I don’t want to see any of the culture of Eastern die,” he said.

Austin, you are EIU!”


Photo courtesy of EIU’s official Facebook page.

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.