We got off to a great start in Fall 2014 with Effingham: This is Our Story and have followed up with fourteen more installments. Our sixteenth production is currently in the discussion phase with potential underwriters.
In each program, we asked the local residents to serve as our “storytellers” for their community. They research archived collections of photos, newspapers, libraries, historical and genealogical societies, grab their video cameras, cell phones, GoPros, Flip cameras, or any other video recording devices and capture the footage for their story ideas.
Stories shared through the years have focused on the history, events, people, current happenings, as well as future goals of villages, towns, and counties in East Central Illinois including one university in the mix. In the past seven years, WEIU has shared 439 stories in 15 separate programs with people who first came in as strangers and through shared experiences of stories, hugs, laughter, tears and memories became friends and station supporters. It is the connection of stories that have developed relationships for many years to come! There is something very special in learning about people and their hometowns through personal storytelling that becomes a magical adventure and we get to take part and share.
As a local PBS station, we get the awesome opportunity to broadcast and stream these stories in a series of programs to viewers anywhere in the world. DVDs and BluRays of the program are offered to those who call in or donate online. During the live showing of the program, the storytellers, their family and friends participate in the production, answer phones and enjoy the live television experience. The week prior to the live broadcast, WEIU TV hosts a Private Red Carpet Premiere for these very important people and allow them to watch the full program before it is shared on television and online.
WEIU does everything we can to connect with the town and the people who call it home while working from beginning to end on this special production. We hold Champion meetings in their hometown to get the ball rolling with the movers and shakers, we hold a community meeting to sign up storytellers in their town as well, and we hold the premiere at a local venue. We get to know the town well from the restaurants, stores, parks, drives and walks around town. We share all of our experiences during the pledge breaks with our viewers. This show connects people and is a valuable asset.