Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

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July 8, 2014

WEIU asking residents to become storytellers

EFFINGHAM — It’s a story that has been decades in the making - a thriving economic, social and cultural community that has become the Crossroads of America and the people who make it what it is today.

Effingham, this is your story, and Charleston-based Public Broadcasting station WEIU wants to tell it. But rather than document the story itself, the station is asking residents to tell it in their own words through their own photos and video that will air in “Effingham: This is Our Story” this fall.

It is the first such project for the station, and Effingham was the obvious choice to launch it, according to project Manager Jana Johnson.

“We wanted to choose a community that didn’t have a television station. We looked at Effingham and how exciting it is, a booming community, and people who live there are all about town pride,” said Johnson.

It also gave the station the opportunity to work with the Effingham community, which, Johnson added, it really hasn’t done before.

“We knew there are lots of stories to be told there,” she said.

The station is looking for stories crossing all ages and genres that represent Effingham on many levels.

“We are looking for quirky stories, not just serious,” said Johnson. “We’re looking for anything and everything about Effingham.”

While the program focuses on the city of Effingham, Johnson said those who live outside the community are invited to share stories as well.

“You don’t have to say I live in Effingham city to be part of it,” she said.

The station is enlisting the help of the community by asking those interested to attend an hourlong town meeting Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Effingham Performance Center.

Budding filmmakers will be shown examples and given a packet explaining how the production works. Johnson is hoping for a large turnout as the number of stories may determine the length of the program. Typically a program is about two hours, but “This is Our Story” could be a three-hour program, depending on stories and how many people want to tell them, she said.

Even though residents will be supplying the content for the program, WEIU also will conduct interviews of the storytellers themselves on Aug. 2 that will be included. The program will then broadcast live at 7 p.m. Oct. 2 on WEIU.

Johnson said she is impressed by the Effingham residents and businesses the station has contacted to get the word out about the program.

“I cannot say enough about how welcoming everyone we encountered has been. People have all been so supportive to us, and that’s huge,” she said.

For more on "This is Our Story" www.weiu.net/ourstory.



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