DeKalb recognized on national television

By Dave Heaton

DeKalb shined in the spotlight last week when it made national TV on NBC’s Today Show.

Mike Leonard, features reporter for the Today Show, visited DeKalb last Tuesday to report on DeKalb’s history as “Barb City,” the original birthplace of barbed wire.

A group of NIU faculty members in the school of journalism had been trying to get Leonard to speak to their classes for the Today Show for a long time, said Angela Powers, assistant journalism professor.

Powers said they were told that they needed to get an idea for a story in order for Leonard to come to NIU.

The faculty members bounced heads and TV-8 News Director Kim Ruppert came up with the barbed wire idea, Powers said.

Apparently Leonard liked the idea, and he agreed to come to DeKalb for the story and talk to some NIU journalism classes, Powers said.

The Ellwood House Museum, 509 N. First St., with its barbed wire collection, was shown on the program, as well as shots of a few local residents and parts of the downtown area.

“Leonard told journalism students that they should try to be unique if they wish to succeed,” Powers said.

Leonard had worked as a construction worker and was 30 years old before he entered journalism, she said.

He got his start because of his extraordinary knack for storytelling which he took to the networks, Powers said.

Leonard also told students that they can find a job if they are motivated.

“Students said he was very inspiring,” Powers said.

The show will run on TV-8 tonight at 9 p.m. and will be repeated at 10:30 p.m.