Mass communications instructor to discuss book featuring radio commentaries

Tom Dehner, mass communications instructor, will discuss and read from his book that features “From the Sidelines” commentaries originally broadcast on WSIE-FM (88.7 FM) The Jazz Station at SIUE

Tom Dehner, mass communications instructor, will give a reading and sign copies of his book, “JUST CALL ME HARRY STEINFELDT Memoirs and Musings from ‘Playin’ the Game’ of Life.” The event will take place at the Morris University Center Bookstore Wednesday, Sept. 24, from 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Dehner said his book contains commentaries on true stories that he came across during his 40-year career as a communications professional.

“Most of the [information] is experiential form my professional life that has been split among broadcast journalism, public relations and higher education,” Dehner said. “My goal in producing the broadcast commentaries and now the book is to connect with common, ordinary [and] everyday people which is what I am.”

For 16 years, Dehner worked as news director at WSIE-FM (88.7 FM) The Jazz Station at SIUE until his retirement in 2011.

According to its website, WSIE-FM serves the Greater St. Louis area and Southwestern Illinois and “offers practical training in the latest audio technologies for students, affording opportunities to work alongside industry professionals.”

Then from 2012-2013, he returned to the station to produce and host “From the Sidelines,” a series of broadcast commentaries that aired twice a week. The publication, his first, is a collection of these broadcasts which he adapted to print form.

According to Dehner, the commentaries in the book can be humorous, insightful and inspirational.

“Some of them are light in nature. Some of them were difficult to not only write but to share on the air publicly,” Dehner said. “What I try to do is provide lessons learned or some sort of a moral to the story that I tell.”

A humorous story, according to Dehner, occurred in 1971 when he was new to radio broadcasting. At WLDS/WEAI Radio in Jacksonville, he covered an ostrich race.

Dehner added that he covered the tragic story of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq—someone he knew from his hometown.

“I had to report the story anyway devoid of my personal affiliation and association with the family,” Dehner said.

Dehner said he based another commentary from when he provided information on workers who died while trying to climb electrical poles and towers.  He had worked in media relations for Union Electric Company (now Ameren) in St. Louis, MO.

“It was very difficult to do, but it went with the job,” Dehner said.

One of the greatest moments of his career, according to Dehner, happened when a man with cerebral palsy told him he listened to every baseball game he announced play-by-play at Mississippi State University.

“He thought I was his link to the baseball team through the broadcast and told me how good I was and how much he enjoyed it. He actually asked for my autograph,” Dehner said. “It was quite humbling.”

Dehner said his publication can be read like a coffee table book.

“You can read it five or six entries at a time, put it down, pick it up two weeks later and you haven’t missed anything because there is no plot—they’re all independent entries and each is on its own page,” Dehner said.

The broadcasts of “From the Sidelines” are currently being re-run after the 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. news on Tuesdays and Thursdays on 88.7 FM.

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