06 October 2009

Alton: Busy Week Where Lights May Shine

What will the weather do? Rain? Dry? Clouds? Sun? Cool? Warmth? In one area city, everyone is hopeful that the weather will be good enough this Friday to have an afternoon be labeled "good" or even "prize-winning".

Brett Stawar of the Alton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau has had a busy year in 2009, but the busiest part may not be over just yet as he works with officials from the city of Alton, Principia (College in Elsah IL), The Hayner Library, and KMOV-TV to get the News4 crew into Alton's Lincoln-Douglas Square, as well as Alton's Public School Stadium, this Friday.

KMOV/News4 St. Louis has been "On The Road" on Friday evenings the past several weeks, featuring Kirkwood and Belleville the past two weeks on their 5 and 6 o'clock evening news broadcasts. This week their destination is Alton, which is why Brett Stawar, Matthew Asselmeier in Alton City Hall, and news producer Diane Duenez of Channel 4 have been three of the busiest people in the region. It's their job to coordinate much of the activity focused around the broadcast, including helping one another get key interview segments set and ensure the placement of people milling around Lincoln-Douglas Square in downtown Alton where the makeshift studio is scheduled to be set up on Friday. This week, they want "red tape" to mean colored duct tape and not a problem for the potential broadcasts.

Lincoln-Douglas Square may not be an immediate destination for most people who visit the city of Alton, Illinois, but it is one stop that thousands of residents pass every day when going through downtown Alton, at the corner of Broadway, Piasa Street and Landmarks Blvd. It is where the city hosted a debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas as the two men ran for U. S. Senate in 1858. And whereas a "live" television broadcast is not normal from this spot, but it has been a corner where camera crews have set up in the past. In 1993, during the Great Flood, the corner was likely a bit difficult for an entire set, but crews from all over the world set up near the landmark to get video of the waters invading downtown Alton. For some videojournalists the area near Lincoln-Douglas Square was almost their home away from home during the summer of 1993, while other news crews were there as part of their tour of the midwest where The Great Flood impacted Americans.

Alton residents are being asked to do something simple for the Friday afternoon activity: show up and have fun. The Riverbend region is abuzz with those who see the opportunity to give non-residents a chance to see why they pick the area to live and work, as well as reasons for tourists to visit the Alton area. KMOV has scheduled a "meet and greet" time (1 to 4 p.m.) for those interested in meeting some of the personalities and producers, including time for a few autographs. It may be the "be seen" event for those who would like to mingle with those who are influential in the Riverbend area.

In fact even without a TV newscast scheduled, on Friday there is already a chance that Alton is where the spotlight may shine on a visitor. In a 1 p.m. event this Friday, the Riverfront Amphitheater hosts Nobel Peace laureate nominee Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission To Promote Peace...One School At A Time. And Mortenson may be awakened in the early morning by someone with the news of the Nobel Prize --- the announcement is set for 9 a.m. GMT, or about 4 a.m. CDT, and he could wake up a winner. If so, the speaking engagement at Riverfront Amphitheater would be Mortenson's first public appearance after the annoucement is made. The stage is set, and will belong to Mortenson, no matter the outcome from the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden.

All around Alton, for all involved, it's a week of making sure things are "GO" for the live broadcast on KMOV. But it's also a time to see the possibilities and perhaps celebrate the live broadcast showcasing the city of Alton --- and maybe a Nobel Prize winner.

Now, if only the weather forecast comes out favorable for Friday.