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WIU Alumnus Joe Decker on the set of his interview for the UTV original program, "The Purple Chair"
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"The Purple Chair" Debut Set for March 18 on University Television

March 14, 2013

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MACOMB, IL – "The Purple Chair," a Western Illinois University Television Services (University Television) original series, will make its screen debut Monday, March 18 on local cable Channel 3 (Comcast subscribers; Channel 9, MTC subscribers), at 6 p.m. An encore presentation will be shown at 10 p.m. March 18.

The first guest for "The Purple Chair" is Joe Decker, a 1998 WIU kinesiology graduate and "The World's Fittest Man." Decker, the owner of Gut Check Fitness in California, will describe his journey into the world of fitness and provide guidance for those who are starting – or want to start – on the road to a healthier lifestyle. "The Purple Chair" featuring Decker will air again at 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 19; 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 20; 1 p.m. and 10 p.m. Thursday, March 21; and 6 a.m. and 4 p.m. Friday, March 22. Additional show times can be found at

Each month a new episode of "The Purple Chair" will air. April's show will feature Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, talking about how to achieve peace in today's society. According to Amanda Shoemaker, associate director of WIU's Alumni Programs and host of "The Purple Chair," although the show does have some focus on the guest and his/her background, what makes this program unique is that it's designed for the viewer to learn more about a particular topic, such as fitness, peace, motivating yourself, cyber-bullying and more. Shoemaker brings more than a decade of broadcast television experience to the show.

"It was an honor to be asked to host this new series for UTV," Shoemaker said. "It gives me the opportunity to sit down and interview some fascinating individuals. I always walk away feeling like I've learned something new, which is the point of the show."

Phil Weiss and Todd Draeger of University Television produce "The Purple Chair." Weiss thought of an idea for the original series after viewing a similar CNN program, "The Red Chair." Taking the concept of the four-minute interview from CNN, Weiss, Draeger, Shoemaker and Darcie Shinberger, assistant vice president of advancement and public services, brainstormed about the possibility of a longer "educational" interview program that would feature WIU alumni, faculty and staff … and of course, the chair.

"Rather than the typical, or traditional, interview format in which the viewer sees both the guest and the host on camera, we decided to keep Amanda off camera, and keep the focus on the guest, while intertwining different footage [B-roll] into the interview," Weiss explained. "We also used a variety of camera angles during the interviews, so the focus just isn't on the guest's face during the entire program."

After some "purple chair research," a translucent purple chair was purchased, and the Weiss-Draeger duo began taking "interesting" photographs and video shots of the chair in various locations throughout campus to use as a teaser for the show, and for the program's intro.

"We wanted to make the chair a focal point as well, a mascot of sorts for the show," Draeger added. "We've been having a lot of fun finding unique locations – and shots – for the chair. It definitely piques the curiosity of passersby when they see us shooting an empty chair in odd locations throughout campus."

For University Television programming, including "The Purple Chair," visit, and click "here" in the TV guide section. To obtain the complete UTV listing, change cable provider/location to Comcast or MTC depending on your cable carrier.

To follow the chair's daily antics and to learn more about the show, visit For more information or to suggest a topic for "The Purple Chair," email

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Office of University Relations