Amanda Brennan is a senior studying Journalism and minoring in Public Relations with emphasis areas in art, design and recreation/sports/tourism at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She is currently a co-producer of Good Morning Illini, the president of U of I’s Society of Professional Journalists chapter, a photographer with the Illini Union Marketing Department, a TA for JOUR200 and a color guard member in the Marching Illini. Amanda enjoys traveling, playing with puppies, watching both Illini Athletics and the Chicago Cubs and staying busy with all sorts of campus events. Through her journalistic work, she has earned honors as a Board of Governors’ scholarship recipient through the NATAS Chicago foundation.
Last summer, Amanda won tickets to the Saturday Night Live season 46 finale episode three days before the show! She says it was absolutely amazing to watch the TV magic unfold right in front of her. Ask Amanda about the experience any day, any time. Amanda has a true passion for TV and can’t wait to see where the world of broadcast journalism will take her after graduation this upcoming spring!
Instagram: @amandas__photography, @amanda.brennan
Solo Show #1, Oct. 1, 2021
I learned so much while producing this show and I am extremely proud of how it turned out. At the beginning of the week, I was worried that I had too much content, then about halfway through I thought it was too little content. It was hard to nail down the timing to be exactly right until the morning of, but even then I found myself floating unnecessary parts of the show such as our PSA commercial break segment in the middle as well as the bumps in and out of the break. That saved about 3 minutes and allowed more time for adlibbing and our live in-studio guest Julia Arciola. I still have more to learn about how to nail show timing, but that will come with more experience and time this semester. I think it will get easier as I get to know all of the students even better and as I learn more ins and outs of our Inception rundown software.
Regarding the show’s content, I am really happy with everything we were able to include. With it being Oct. 1, I factored in “national days/months” such as Breast Cancer Awareness month and National Coffee Day. We also talked about the start of “spooky season” and it gave the anchors an opportunity to adlib about it at the start of the show. Zooming with a breast cancer researcher from the University helped give the show a more “professional” feel instead of all feature stories or funny stories.
We really hyped up our segment with feature twirler Julia Arciola and it definitely paid off. It was our first “in-studio” guest not over Zoom since the pandemic began! The interaction between her and Brendyn not only gave viewers a look into her life but also made them laugh when she tried to show Brendyn a few tricks. This added a lot to the show.
Behind the scenes, I am so proud of how the control room handled everything. It was so calm. No major technical issues, no wrong buttons clicked, no yelling, no incorrect stories pressed at the wrong time. Everyone knew their positions! It was all smooth sailing and that was a MAJOR reason the show was as successful as it was.
I love coming up with story ideas and learning about so many different clubs, organizations, classes and people on this campus. As the shows progress this semester, I am eager to keep featuring people of all different backgrounds and interest areas.
Solo Show #2, Oct. 15, 2021
My second solo show had a different feel than the first. Things were a little more hectic, but I am still more than happy with the content we included. I love storytelling and finding unique people, places and things on campus to talk about on the show! I have found a lot of good VOSOT ideas through RSO Instagram posts, through the Illini Union and through mutual friends involved in a variety of orgainzations.
The story I am the proudest of was a story that came together on the Thursday night before the show. I had the opportunity to sit down and interview Penn Badgley (best known from the shows “Gossip Girl” and “You”) and Dr. Nura Mowzoon, a relationship coach and professor at Arizona State University. This was a great learning experience and I am so thankful that it worked out to talk to them before the event. U of I was their first college stop on their “Can We Talk?” discourse series tour where they talk about the importance of organic, healthy relationships.
That story fit in the rundown well as the first half of the show was mainly fall content and the second half of the show was very entertainment and music-based. I liked how interactive our first half of Good Morning Illini was on Friday. I had one reporter in a pumpkin patch at Curtis Orchard interviewing the owner, then outside of the studio in the courtyard, our weatherman for the week was carving pumpkins with our “resident pumpkin expert,” Patrick. I ended up having to float a few VOSOTs toward the second half of the show, but I am glad we included two strong packages about acapella groups preparing for a big concert and about the “Fun Home” musical at the Krannert Center. I am still working on timing, but I would rather go into a show heavy than light. Going into the show, I had a feeling I would end up floating the VOSOTs that were floated.
I am excited to continue producing stories this semester! I will continue to learn about timing and flow of the show as the semester progresses.
Show #3, Nov. 12, 2021
Overall, I am really happy with my third and final solo-produced show of the semester! A few weeks ago, a fun studio conversation about my love of dolphins turned into an aquatics-themed show! It was a lot of fun to follow this theme throughout the show and the stories flowed easily into each other. I was happy to feature groups such as the Illini Bass Fishing Club, Club Water Polo, lifeguards at the ARC and scuba diving classes at the ARC! Plus, the Good Morning Illini crew members had a lot of fun filming these stories!
This week, I learned the very basics of Adobe After Effects when I created a moving water graphic with our Good Morning Illini logo at the end of our open! It is a small detail but I loved that that added extra element could be right at the beginning. We started the show with a look into COVID on campus as cases increase and as booster shots become more available. I liked starting the show with harder news and then transition into more feature pieces about campus groups. This added a more serious layer to a fun show.
I had a lot of content going into this week because of how my peers’ schedules worked out. I had to communicate with nine different people throughout the week to make sure their stories were filmed and their scripts were written by our deadlines. This communication element is crucial as a producer so I can give feedback, time the show and figure out camera cues. With all of this content, it was easy to think that I would be heavy. Then, after a few timing plans changed last minute I thought I would be light. Come Friday morning, I decided to float two stories before we went live and because I floated what I did, the timing was perfect. We did not have to rush through a fun science experiment. We had space to add a quick dedication graphic to Winter the Dolphin at the end. We didn’t have to float or add anything while we were live–a producer’s dream!
This final show was a lot of fun to work on and produce. The control room was relatively calm, the cameras moved as needed and everything went ~swimmingly!~