From mayors to clowns, Ground Level offers something for everyone

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-113276802613311.jpg’, ‘Photo provided’, ‘Cheap Trick’s Bun E. Carlos (right), shown here with host Tom Leu, is one of the many guests who have appeared on local TV talk-show Ground Level.’);

Local TV show begins eighth season on Insight Cable channel 20

Not many local television shows could boast having done interviews with subjects as diverse as Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey and a local professional clown, but those are just two of the more than 150 personalities that have been featured on the local TV show Ground Level.

Ground Level was created by Rock Valley College’s (RVC) Mass Communication Department in January 2002 to allow students to have hands-on experience working on the production of a weekly half-hour talk show. Local author, speaker and musician Tom Leu has hosted all seven seasons, and is scheduled to continue hosting through the eighth season, which began Nov. 18.

“I’m really proud of the show. I really want the community to check it out,” Leu said of Ground Level, which airs every Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 11:30 p.m. on Insight Cable channel 20.

Leu, not on staff at RVC, is a self-employed inspirational speaker who was recommended for the position. He defines his work as “compelling, provocative and relevant.”

Leu left corporate America by becoming an inspirational speaker to share his belief in being positive and uplifting. He started the “Musician’s Corner,” a newspaper column he wrote for The Rock River Times that helped small musicians find their way from garage to stage. Following his column, Leu moved on to Internet radio before taking over as host of Ground Level.

Even though he had no previous television experience, his communication skills have proven to be a great asset to the Mass Communication Department.

Students from the current semester participate in the entire broadcast—from sound to lighting. The students pre-produce the show on location segments, and run everything in the production. Different students work on the set each semester, which runs anywhere from eight to 12 episodes. Each semester makes for one season, which means two seasons are created each calendar year. The college offers the students state-of-the-art equipment.

“[People] think it’s Wayne’s World … milk crates and cinder blocks,” Leu said. “They are impressed when they get down here.”

Each episode consists of four segments, starting with the packaged segment. The packaged segment includes such features as on-location restaurant reviews and interviews. The second segment is the “Musician’s Corner,” when bands and artists are allowed to showcase their talents. The third segment includes a five-minute interview with a local entertainer, musician or other person of interest. Each show concludes with a live music performance, usually by a local band or musical act.

For more information about Ground Level or Leu’s work, call 397-2022 or visit For more information about RVC’s Mass Communication Department, contact Brian Shelton at 921-3360.

From the Nov. 23-29, 2005, issue

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