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Good Morning Illini Turns Six

by: Logan Hodson

Good Morning Illini, the University of Illinois student run morning program, turns 6 years old this month. The shows creator, Kenneth Erdy, celebrated live with our show anchors and past Good Morning Illini students at Richmond, where the show is filmed. The cutting of the cake and the surprise party happened as the birthday show on the tenth was ending. The whole show can be found on our Vimeo page here.

With the upcoming renovation of Richmond Studios, the birthday show felt like a bit of a send off for students working on and behind the camera. Richmond closes March 10th and with the date fast approaching, Erdy brought in graduated students to give the space a happy birthday and cheerful send off. Unfortunately, no one thought to inform our anchors, leaving them the most surprised in the studio.

During the renovations Good Morning Illini will likely be taken digital with a reduced show schedule. The renovations won't be the end of Good Morning Illini, the show will return as soon as renovations are complete. The project is slated to be finished by the beginning of next semester. After renovations are complete the studio will have both improved technology and more space making it that much easier to produce UI7 Newsroom content. The improved technology is expected to be a consolidation of outdated equipment into a condensed form, like a switchboard.

The donors for this project are Rich and Leslie Frank, Rich a UIUC alumni and former president at Disney Studios and Leslie an Emmy award winning journalist. After retiring both decided to invest in a winery and have since created a brand of wine all their own. Rich and Leslie also paid Richmond a visit last semester to see the space they'd be renovating and to get a chance to meet with some of the students their generous donation would be benefiting.

Since it's creation, Good Morning Illini has educated and produced a number of accomplished journalists from the program over the years. this aligns with UI7 Newsrooms mission statement.

"We provide students a solid foundation in fundamental journalism skills and prepare them for careers in a dynamic media environment by experimenting with new technologies for gathering, analyzing, and presenting news".

For Erdy not all mentor ship with his journalists end at graduation.

"I put a lot of effort into my students, I give them what they need to be successful and it's up to them what they do with it. With that investment I like to keep an eye on them even if they aren't in broadcast, they're my kids."

When the show was first created it was done by a group of students that had finished the last broadcast class at the time journalism 445. The students wanted to continue on with creating broadcast content but didn't have a place to do so. Erdy suggested he could run a show if the students could find seven people to run the production side. The students came back with fourteen and Good Morning Illini was born. All they needed was a catchy tag line. Erdy, wanting to take inspiration from his wife, decided on the tag line, "The best way to have a great day is with a good morning Illini".

The show originally started out as more of a lifestyle show doing short fun pieces about campus, without much focus into news. The show went for a more conversational tone it was almost like a talk show dedicated to UIUC. Good Morning Illini wasn't always a class either it was volunteer based while all the kinks were being worked out.

The show in recent years has changed drastically from the way it was originally produced. The recording studio has gone through a few changes, which affects how the show looks now. compared to then. The show always had the identity of focusing on news happening on campus leaving off campus activities for the other shows to cover. Good Morning Illini was always a more casual show reminiscent of shows like Good Morning America and the Today show, fun, but still news. Regardless of how the show has changed or who is doing the reporting, Erdy shows that he is fully committed to his pride and joy, Good Morning Illini.

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