Illini Media Company alumni recount their fondest memories
April 12, 2022
Last weekend, Illini Media alumni returned to their old stomping grounds to celebrate the company’s 150th anniversary and attend the induction ceremony for the 22-year-old class of Illini Media Hall of Fame. Ilini Media. Throughout the weekend celebration, alumni recounted memories of their time working for The Daily Illini and WPGU.
Bernard Schoenburg, The Daily Illini, ’76
“I worked there from the fall of 1974 until I graduated in 1976. Perhaps my favorite memory is when I was a brand new reporter and went undercover to unlock a story that we have heard of. There was a concert by a very popular band at the time – Jethro Tull – in the Assembly Hall, which is now the State Farm Center. We heard that a fraternity had sent a member, possibly a pledge, to buy a block of tickets – maybe 100 – and they were planning to scalp them. They were $6 tickets and they planned to sell them for $20. It was illegal in Illinois at the time, you couldn’t sell a ticket for more than the printed price. So, with permission from the paper’s editor at the time and money from a drawer he had, me and my college roommate, who wasn’t on the paper but had broad shoulders, went to fraternity, bought two tickets, spent $20 each. We returned to the Daily Illini, which at the time was in the basement of Illini Hall, and called the fraternity back for their comment. We made a story about what they were doing.
Ultimately, the ticket sales policy at Assembly Hall changed. I think our story was an impetus, if not the impetus, and they were no longer selling blocks of tickets to organizations like that. They went into a lottery system for you to enter a lottery to see when you would go to the box office to buy tickets so that people no longer had to wait all night in a queue outside the box office, which was happening and was kind of a bad deal, especially for those who work for their fraternity. So we made some changes and we won an investigative award. It helped me follow a path that turned into a 44-year career in journalism at three locations, and I think we did a favor. Undercover stuff doesn’t always happen these days – there’s an ethical question to that – but I think we did a service and it was a good story, and that was what The Daily Illini should treat from time to time.
John Hackman, The Daily Illini, ’68
“My favorite memory was probably when I got a front-page story, and they ran it with a 72-point railway gothic headline. I stayed and watched it come off the press. There was something about the student senate but we had a big hole on the front page and we needed something The truth is they expected it to be a bigger story than it was was, but at 9:30 p.m. you can’t redesign the whole paper. I reported a story that, in all honesty, probably didn’t deserve such a big headline, but it was nice to see it posted here.
Some of my other favorite memories date back to when I worked as a night editor. You would put the paper to bed and come back to it at midnight. The pressman would say it’s all clear, and the guy with the cigar would press the button. This press was rolling up, nothing was going through it yet, it was spinning at full speed – the whole building was shaking. Then they put the paper through, it went so fast you couldn’t see it until it came out the other end. It was the greatest thrill in the world to see this happen.
Bette Anderson, WPGU, ’58
“My favorite memory at WPGU was meeting my husband, Art. He was the chief engineer of WPGU. In 1957, my boyfriend at the time went to (the University of) Miami in Ohio, and he was the chief engineer of their student radio station. He came to visit me, the only time he came to visit me on campus, and I brought him to WPGU. It turns out that he and Art had corresponded, both being engineers. I really didn’t know anything about the station, but I fell in love with it and got a job as an engineer which is totally different from what an engineer is today’ The DJ would be in the studio, soundproof and all, and I was working on the controls and spinning the deck – turning on the music that was on these big transmitters. I became really good friends with (Art), and when I finally broke up with Rich from Ohio, we started dating. We started seeing each other seriously, we worked out all the little problems we had and got married in August of that year. We hadn’t dated for too long, but we were together almost every day because I worked at the train station.