“Segue,” a show of SIUE CAS interviews, debuts Sunday

Colleges and universities are more than classrooms.  The best are centers of research, innovation, and culture. Many of them seek a method that will allow them to showcase different aspects of their institution.  SIUE’s College of Arts and Sciences is debuting just such a technique in the form of a radio show, a push by one dean using the best of the university’s communications assets.

The idea for the show stems from several National Public Radio shows, according to Aldemaro Romero, Jr., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS).  Romero stated he wants to give the local community an insight into the professors and instructors that are teaching in SIUE’s CAS.  Romero will be the host and interviewer for “Segue.”

“I want to help them tell their stories, passions, and lives, to show what is behind the professor,” said Romero.

Sunday, March 6, 2011 will be the initial airing of a radio show that will showcase the CAS faculty members.

The interviews will last for one half an hour and will air at Sunday mornings at 9:00 a.m. on 88.7 FM, WSIE.  WSIE is the radio station of SIUE. The show, entitled “Segue”, is based on two highly regarded NPR talk shows.

Mike Shaw, professor of chemistry, is interviewed by Dean Aldemaro Romero in the Dunham Hall recording studio.

“All Things Considered” has been on the air since 1971 and aims “to get the day’s big stories on the air, and to bring them alive through sound and voice,” according to the show’s website.  “Fresh Air” is an intimate conversation hosted by Terry Gross who “sets an atmosphere in which her guests volunteer the answers rather than surrender them,” according to the show’s website.

These two concepts are what Romero wants to keep in mind during his interviews with CAS faculty members.  Romero stated that he explores the faculty members’ research, courses, biography, and will even speak to coworkers and occasionally students.  From this information, Romero creates a list of questions to direct the conversation.

Aldemaro Romero, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. photo courtesy of SIUE.

“I was impressed by the variety of questions from Dean Romero.  We covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time” said Rick Essner, assistant professor of biological sciences. “[He] asked excellent questions and the interview seemed to go by really quickly.”

Romero stated the interviewees will not know the questions that will be asked of them.  He said the idea of the show is to be a conversation with spontaneity and spontaneity is difficult to achieve when the questions are known prior to the interview.  Romero also stated that during his master’s and doctoral studies, he worked as a science writer and a radio show host.  He said he will draw on his past experience to ensure that “Segue” will offer the audience an engaging half an hour.

The concept for “Segue” came to Romero after he was involved in another project that featured different faculty members.  “Adventures in the Academy,” is a book published last year in which several CAS faculty members gave personal accounts about their experiences in academia.  During this project, Romero came to realize that CAS faculty have intriguing back stories that were in need of being told because he saw passion in each story.  He said he envisioned a radio show as the method to share the passion that the professors feel with the local community.

“Segue” will cycle through four components: the visual and performing arts, humanities, social sciences, and the physical sciences.  This will allow the show to highlight the various aspects of CAS on a regular basis.

It will also provide a flexibility to be timely.  Romero stated he believes that flexibility will enable “Segue” to address issues that occur throughout the world as they happen.  Different members of the CAS faculty will be able to give their opinions and share their knowledge about events as they happen.

“It was great being a part of a local production with [potential] international reach,” said David Kauzlarich, professor and chair of social and criminal justice studies. “The interviews allow scholars to raise awareness of issues that are often not getting voice outside of academe.”  Kauzlarich was recently interviewed for a segment of “Segue”.

Nearly a dozen episodes have been recorded so far, with more than 30 scheduled to be recorded in the next few months.  Pre-recording the episodes will allow the show to run during holiday breaks and summer and winter breaks.

“I am thrilled that CAS has developed this program. I know that it will be successful beyond our local area,” said Kauzlarich.

Some of the faculty that have already been interviewed include Kristine Hildebrandt, assistant professor of english language and literature; Ruth Slenczynska, pianist and former artist-in-residence at SIUE; and Adrian Matejka, assistant professor of english language and literature.

Adrian Matejka.

Hildebrandt hopes that students will also take advantage of the format of “Segue”.  She sees potential for helping students learn more about the faculty and the courses offered.

Kristine Hildebrandt. photo courtesy of Hildebrandt.

“I think these interviews should be advertised to students, as they might be intrigued enough to consider taking a course in a particular program of study,” said Hildebrandt.

Romero said that the faculty have been highly engaged during the interviews.  He rarely gets through the list of questions that he prepares.

“We are recording two or three sessions a week,” said Romero. “The questions I have, often we are not able to get to because their stories and their passion control the conversation.”

“Segue” is a collaborative effort between Romero, his staff, WSIE, and the Mass Communications Department.  Wayne Mills, broadcast engineer for mass communications is responsible for recording the interviews.  Mills said that his work has been light so far because the interviews have gone so smoothly.

“Dean Romero is a great interviewer.  He does a good job of taking topics that on the surface might seem a little dry and breathe life into them,”  Mills said.  “I’ve learned a lot just sitting there running the board listening to the guests that he has had.”

All participants, including the faculty and support staff, have combined to create a show that will be unique to SIUE, according to Gary Hicks, executive producer for “Segue” and chair of mass communications.

“We’re all proud to be a part of bringing the WSIE listener what promises to be an entertaining, educational, sometimes provocative, but always enjoyable weekend program on the lives and work of the people of the College of Arts and Sciences, the real heart of the university,” said Hicks.

The music for the show features Aldemaro Romero, Sr., Dean Romero’s father.  Romero, Sr. was a “famous musician known for his vast range of productivity as a composer, arranger, conductor, and performer of many different types of music, from popular to academic,” according to Romero, Jr.’s biography page.

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