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Legendary Southern Illinois broadcaster Erv Coppi, affectionately known to generations of WSIU-TV viewers as "Uncle Erv," shares his life story on this episode of WSIU InFocus, as WSIU Public Television celebrates its 50th anniversary. Coppi, a Royalton native, began his broadcasting career at WFRX Radio in West Frankfort in 1951, and was a popular air personality on WGGH Radio in Marion, and WJPF in Herrin before joining WSIU-TV in 1969 as public information officer and program/pledge host.
At WSIU-TV, Coppi, a lifelong movie buff, became a household name throughout the region hosting the station's Movie Night broadcasts of Hollywood comedies, classic films, and the wildly popular horror movie nights. Coppi emceed countless pledge breaks to raise money for WSIU's operations and anchored coverage of the Murphysboro Apple Festival parades and other special events along with his co-host, the late Virginia Marmaduke. Coppi retired in 1993.
The program features excerpts from Coppi's career including a sample of the The Egyptian Ballroom, a big band program on WGGH Radio that cleverly employed sound effects and phonograph records to create an imaginary ballroom for performances by Woody Herman, Les Brown, and other big-name acts of the era. Other clips show Coppi introducing It's a Wonderful Life, The Bride of Frankenstein, pledge breaks, and parade coverage. The conversation is hosted by WSIU-TV senior producer Jak Tichenor.
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