What is your job title and how long have you worked at the UI?
My title is director/producer at WILL-TV. I started as a student in February 1979, and I worked part time off and on for both TV and radio until June 1988 when I became a full-time employee at TV.
What are your primary responsibilities as a director/producer?
I direct most of the live programming that's done here at WILL television, and I also produce some of the programs that I work on.
Directing is all the work I do in the studio [during the taping]. As director, I'm in charge of a production crew that includes several camera operators, an audio person, some engineering personnel, and possibly someone answering telephones. I'll coordinate all these people to produce a live television show, such as "Illinois Gardener" or "Talking Point" the two main live productions that we do.
Producing involves getting all the elements together before you get to the studio. Such as making phone calls [to line up guests] for "Talking Point." Our other producer [Henry Szujewski] and I discuss possible topics together. He produces the first program each month and I produce the second one.
I also produce, direct and edit "Silver Screen" open and closes. And I do a lot of behind-the scenes stuff. For example, I taped the sunrise that you see on the station ID. I also help Alison [Davis] with "Prairie Fire." If she needs someone to help, I'll go along and videotape the interview or be the grip. A grip carries things and helps make the job flow smoothly, kind of like an assistant. Because I know a lot of the jobs, I can think as the producer does and anticipate what needs to be done. Also I may have an idea or a suggestion that is helpful. Sometimes just knowing what is going on helps you realize opportunities to enhance the shot.
Do you prefer to work on a live program or a taped show?
The things I like about each are different. Taped shows allow you to come up with a better overall project. You can go back and fix a mistake in the edit. Live shows are live, and when you're done taping, they're finished. That's good, because you can edit [a program] forever. If you plan a live program correctly and execute it correctly, when it's done, you thank everyone and pack up and go.
How do you feel when you view a show on TV that you produced?
I feel really good about a lot of things I do. Sometimes I still have that childlike joy when I see something [that I created]. Thursdays when I'm in the studio, I watch the breaks between "Illinois Gardener" and "Talking Point." Occasionally I may see a promo, funding credit or station ID that I created. I think, "I shot that! I shot that!"
What are some future projects you're working on now?
Right now I'm working on a follow-up "Talking Point" to a "P.O.V." documentary that was produced locally, "In Whose Honor?" We're putting together a local panel to discuss some of the issues surrounding that doc, which deals with the controversy surrounding Chief Illiniwek. I'll direct that show, too. (Editor's note: See brief notes at right for broadcast information.)
I understand you juggle and unicycle in your spare time. How did you get started?
Juggling and unicycling are my biggest hobbies. I learned how to juggle when I was living in Allen Hall, which has an artist-in-residence program.
I've been involved with the Illini Juggling and Unicycle Club for several years. A smaller group of us is the performing branch [of the club]. We go out and perform for Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, parades and street fairs. I'll
be riding my unicycle and juggling in the 4th of July parade for WILL. I regularly practice once a week if I go to a club meeting. The club meets from 8 to 10 p.m. Mondays in the Armory. Anyone can come watch or learn.
Doris K. Dahl