College Sees Station as Benefit to Students, Community

LINCOLN, ILL.—Telecasting sporting events, talk shows and a mayoral candidate forum, Lincoln College is jumping into its new bachelor's degree program in radio, television and new media with both feet—and so are students. The students are even working on a documentary about violence in Chicago neighborhoods, where some of the students are from, and how Lincoln College is changing their lives.

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Lincoln College President David Gerlach spoke with students in the production room of the school’s LCTV station in Lincoln. From left is operations manager Andrew Walker; sports director Nik Jackson; and sports director Mario Meccia.

The WLNX radio station has long been part of Lincoln College's program, but it took operational control of Comcast Channel 5 LCTV in 2015.

Recently, the college added a production studio for LCTV with state-of-the-art equipment, including a control room, editing lab and studio.

For students, it means a lot of hands-on experience. For the community, it means more local content on LCTV.

“We're going to reach out more to the Lincoln community,” said assistant professor Deb Antoine, LCTV general manager, noting it would give students “more real world experience.”

Among ideas under consideration are a “pet of the week” feature to encourage adoptions, she said.

In addition to programs on LCTV, students have been streaming what they do to Facebook and putting video on YouTube, explained Antoine. The YouTube channel started in August with video of the Logan County Balloon Fest. Students also stream men's and women's basketball games and some wresting and volleyball matches on YouTube and Facebook Live. Antoine said the YouTube channel has received nearly 10,000 views.

“It's a great experience for the students to have,” she said.

Lincoln College President David Gerlach said, “The focus on the new media side will give them a wider view of different things they can get involved in.”

The college began offering the four-year degree in the fall.

Dylan Diemert of Cullman, Ala., intends to stay at Lincoln College to get his bachelor's degree. Only a sophomore, Diemert is program director for WLNX and producer for “Lynx Locker Room,” a sports talk show on the TV station. One of the things he likes about Lincoln is “not having to wait my turn” and, instead, getting hands-on experience right away and “a good chance to hone my skills.”

Junior Andrew Walker of Frankfort agreed.

“Most places that you go, you're not going to see or touch a mike until junior or senior year,” said Walker, operations manager for LCTV. “Here, you get to edit, produce, take photos and film and play with lights all in one day.”

Even though the program changed from a two-year associate's degree program to a four-year baccalaureate program, that won't change the early opportunities for students.

“They can be involved freshman year,” Antoine said.

That's part of what drew Nik Jackson to Lincoln College from his home in Springfield.

“Since the age of 7, I wanted to go into broadcasting,” said Jackson, a sophomore who is sports director of the radio station and also does play-by-play for basketball and baseball games, in addition to being one of the commentators on “Lynx Locker Room.”

Meranda Vieregge, a sophomore from Lincoln, has enjoyed her experience with sports programming. She likes “the energy that goes into it” and the fact that “so many aspects have to come together.”

Associate professor and WLNX general manager John Malone, who has been at the college since 2004, “laid out a great foundation” for the four-year program, said Antoine, “and I'm thankful for that.” She is looking forward to collaborating with other departments, such as the theater department, on joint projects.

At the December ribbon-cutting, Libbie Stehn-Tumulty, Comcast's government affairs manager, said, “Lincoln College has done tremendous things with the channel, from upgrading all the equipment to state-of-the-art digital equipment” to adding the bachelor's degree. “We can't wait to see what they do with the channel in the future,” she said.

Reprinted with permission of The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Ill.

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