Producer, director inducted into Illini Media Hall of Fame


Photo courtesy of Sean Long

Sean Long worked for Illini Media in writing articles and created the first student-run television program “The College Box.” Long is now the director of Corporate Programming for Weigel Broadcasting.

By Kylie Corral, Assistant buzz Editor

When he was 19, Sean Long said he dreamed of making it into the NFL Hall of Fame. Now, he said being inducted into the Illini Media Hall of Fame is his equivalent.

Long is director of Corporate Programming for Weigel Broadcasting, responsible for nine television stations and over 1,500 hours of programming each week. 

When Long was part of Illini Media, he said he wrote articles and had a home entertainment opinion column. He also created the first student-run television program “The College Box.”

“It definitely helped shape me,” Long said. “My entire University experience has been a great foundation for my career as a whole. And, you know, if I can snap my fingers and go back, we’d be right back there.”

Long said his times running and producing “The College Box” were some of the best moments for him at school while being part of Illini Media.

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“When we got the cover of the TV guide down there, that just sent us over the moon,” Long said. You know, we had a couple of front-page articles with The Daily Illini. And so those were definitely memorable experiences for us.”

Long said he became interested in broadcasting when he was in high school, where there was a program to teach students how to run their own radio station. The general manager at the station advised him to get out into the world and experience life.

Long also said the University was his number one choice for college, and he was excited to be learning there, but he was disappointed with the opportunities for those interested in communications.

“Everything was centered around journalism per se,” Long said. “But I consider myself a little bit more than just a journalist. I wanted to be a producer, I wanted to be a director, and I wanted to do so many different things.”

That particular reason, along with his passion for media, is what inspired him to create “The College Box.”

Fontella Long, wife of Long and a University alumni, met Long the first week of college. She said he was a go-getter from the start.

“We’ve been together for 31 years now, and I’ve seen his passion,” she said. “He is very in tune to opportunities and makes certain that not only is he encouraging our children, our friends’ children, any mentees that he has access to, to seek out opportunities and to really grab hold of those opportunities.”

Fontella Long also said her husband has been reading the Chicago Sun-Times from cover to cover since he was 19 and still does to this day, showing his dedication to media and his career.

“He loves media,” she said. “He loves to know information, and he’s always seeking out getting more information in any way, in any form that he can. He wants to remain engaged and understand and get more information at all times.”

Paul and Toi Hutchison, University alumni and long-time college friends, say Long is as media personified as he was as a freshman, good at connecting people with his career-driven projects.

“(Long) is a connector, and he connected people across different socioeconomic backgrounds and races to pull a group of people together to do The College Box,’” Hutchinson said. “You rarely run across people like that in your life, and you have to be thankful for that.”

Toi Hutchison said Illini Media teaches and services everybody through the information it provides, adding that the Illini Media Hall of Fame means so much because of that.

“It’s a part of our history,” she said. “It’s a part of our legacy. We were students on that campus, so to see any (Black) student that stayed true to the course that they were in when they’re coming through those doors, and then be acknowledged in this way. I mean, I don’t want to understate it. It’s a global impact.”

Long is thankful for the Illini Media family, who have trained people to become great journalists, broadcasters and communicators. He said he is in great company. 

“A lot of times when you look at your life, you don’t realize all of the things that you’ve accomplished, and you’re not quantifying that,” Long said. “Then for somebody to come along and say, ‘Hey, you’ve done such an incredible job. You belong in our Hall of Fame,’ means everything to me and I’m deeply appreciative and thankful.”

Long advises current students at the University and at Illini Media to take a hold of opportunity when it comes along. “You don’t go to college for a job,” he said. “You go to college to create opportunities for yourself.”

He said students should never be afraid to dream big while aiming to accomplish their goals while at the University.

“Look for opportunities,” Long said. “When everybody’s going left, you go right, and you’re going to figure yourself out along the way. But just don’t be afraid to dream and to dream big. That’s for sure.”


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