It's a little bit "Charlie Rose." A little bit "Meet the Press."
That's how Jacques Fuqua Jr. describes the new, locally produced television show, "Illinois International."
Tune in and you can listen to a university professor explain global pandemics or hear what a former U.S. ambassador has to say about North Korea's activities on the nuclear front.
The show's tagline? Bringing the world to your living room.
The 30-minute show airs at 8 a.m. Sundays on Insight Channel 2.
The show, Fuqua said, is a way of fulfilling the university's mission of reaching out to the public.
"I've always had this idea of a local international affairs program bringing issues from around the world home to the Champaign-Urbana area," he said.
Fuqua, director of the UI's Office of International Engagement, Communications and Protocol, came to the UI from Indiana University where he was involved with the East Asian Studies Center there. He had tossed around the TV idea while in Indiana but didn't think a show solely focused on East Asian affairs would work.
But one more globally focused could work, he thought.
With financial help from Busey Bank and the UI's Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies, Fuqua and his staff launched the show in February.
They're starting small – producing about six shows a year – but Fuqua hopes to increase the number of programs. And he wants the show eventually to be shown in the Decatur and Springfield areas.
Filming takes place at Insight's studio in Champaign. Essentially, academics sit down with Fuqua and talk about global issues. It's a pretty simple format.
Like Charlie Rose's show, Fuqua sits close to his guests, with a black background, and they talk about the topic at hand.
"We see this as a step beyond a talk show," he said.
The show's editors often include some maps and other descriptions to help viewers place the topic.
Fuqua spends time researching the topic and provides questions to his guests in advance.
"They're in no way coached," he said of his guests. He wants them to take their time to provide "responsible" answers.
"Hardball with Chris Matthews" it's not.
Recent guests have included Tom Hubbard, former U.S ambassador to South Korea; Indiana State University Professor Michael Chambers; and UI Professors Julian Palmore, Ilana Redstone Akresh and Gale Summerfield. This week, staff filmed an interview with UI Visiting Professor Rajmohan Gandhi.
After filming an episode, the show will run for a month of Sundays.
"I think it's worked well. There's no way to measure who is getting up at 8 a.m. and watching, but we've been seeing some good Web traffic," Fuqua said.
Previously-taped shows are available through the Web site, www.ilint.uiuc.edu/ilint_tv.php.
As for next year, Fuqua is considering topics on Vladimir Putin's Russia, Iran and its role in the Middle East, global gas prices, plus the making of a global citizen.