DeKALB – An online petition to keep the old Northern Illinois University Television Center studio open after the university announced plans to consolidate the program has garnered more than 1,100 signatures.
The NIU Department of Communication is moving production from its current home at 123 Stadium Drive to its second studio in Watson Hall before the fall semester begins.
The petition claims the old studio, while dated, is closely modeled after real-world broadcast studios and Watson Hall does not create the same atmosphere.
Of the 1,500 signatures requested to be a petition on change.org, as of Friday afternoon, more than 1,150 people had signed since the petition that began circulating Monday.
“We want to keep NTC open so current students and generations to come will be set-up for success when their time at NIU is over,” the petition reads. “Closing NTC is the first step in killing the broadcast journalism program at NIU.”
NTC alumni have also created a website in conjunction with the petition that includes a list of testimonials from NTC alumni. According to the website, students and alumni were not told before the change, and alumni have reached out to NIU to get a cost estimate for repairs of the old studio, but have not heard back.
NIU spokesman Joe King said the university has not been formally contacted by NTC alumni, but is willing to work with them. Mehdi Semati, acting chair of the Department of Communication at NIU, however, is currently on research leave and unavailable to sit down and talk, King said.
“We’re always happy to work with alumni, but unfortunately the right people to talk to are out of the country,” King said.
At least nine NTC alumni have provided testimonials on the website. All testimonials come from those who have since entered into the media field.
Matt Knutson, executive producer for Windy City Live, wrote in his testimonial that NTC is the reason he works in television.
“From the moment I stepped in the door I realized I was home,” Knutson wrote. “I owe my career to my time at the Northern Television Center.”
Semati has said the decision to move the center was made to reduce costs and because of falling enrollment in the classes that used the studio. There are 17 students enrolled for the fall semester in the classes that use NTC production space, compared with 88 who were enrolled in the spring of 2015.
NIU will devote money and resources saved from the move to hiring more faculty and incorporating new classes, Semati said.
The position of station general manager, previously held by Beni Enas, will be filled by existing NIU faculty.