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CRAINVILLE - When viewers click on WSIL-TV 3 tonight for their local news, weather and sports, they will be in for a big surprise.

The news desk and weather center have undergone a major facelift, the first such renovation since the new station in Crainville was opened in 1989.

"We're pretty excited about it," said Mark Kiesling, promotions director for the station. "This change has actually been in the works for over a year."

Kiesling said he served as the middle man between renowned designer, Dan Devlin of San Diego, Calif., and station employees.

"I'd be in communication with Dan and bounce his ideas off the general manager and the news director. Dan has a great reputation with design in the news industry."

Kiesling said parts of the new set were built off-site and then pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle. Atreus, a two-man construction team from Michigan, along with two employees from Home Re-Nu in Carterville, have done the lion's share of the work.

"The overall background in the newsroom is kind of like a theater set backdrop," Kiesling said. The wood is a two-tone cherry with a faux finish. The graphics are printed on blue-colored vinyl and fastened by Velcro, almost giving the impression of a projection image.

Above the traditional number three emblazoned in large white script on the board are images from Southern Illinois - the Marion clock tower, SIUC, farming and mining scenes, schools, etc.

Next door to the news center is the newly built weather center. It features several rows of monitors with fluorescent lighting and state-of-the-art technology, which allows WSIL's weather forecasters to be more accurate than ever before. Graphics include photos from the 1982 Marion tornado. A layout of the globe runs along the top of the set.

Jim Rasor and Debra O'Neil are the station's two meteorologists. Mike Janssen is a weather specialist on loan from Mississippi State University.

"We have so much more room to operate than last year," Janssen said. "Now I can be working on graphics while Debra can be monitoring satellite imagery nearby. There's much more of a team concept in place."

According to Kiesling, besides the obvious design changes at the station, there also will be some personnel changes. Angie Wyatt, co-news anchor with Edan Schultz, will co-anchor newscasts at 5, 6, and 10 p.m.

"I think the pacing of the news tends to be better with co-anchors," Kiesling said, adding that Lindsay Nelson will be the new weekend anchor. Kiesling will co-host a morning news show on weekdays with Lindy Thackston from 6 to 7 a.m.

"I'm excited. This has been a long time in coming," said Wyatt, who joined WSIL a little over six years ago. "A lot of the credit for the redsign goes to Mark. He's worked hard on this for a year. And some of the ideas that the designer came up with really blew us out of the water."

Wyatt said she believes WSIL-TV 3 viewers will be shocked - pleasantly so - when they tune in and see the new look.

"It's a wonderful new beginning for us. From a personal standpoint, as a news anchor, I know the changes have rejuvenated me. It's an exciting time to come to work."

News director Mike Snuffer said the makeover is simply something that needed to be done.

"Some tweaking had been done in recent years, but nothing like this," he said. "As televisions have evolved into much flashier looks, it's important that we also keep up with the times. I think people will be pleased when they see it."

john.homan@thesouthern.com 618-997-3356 x15807

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