Anyone who knew Bill Studwell knew how much he loved Christmas music.
Those who knew him well also had an inkling that he also loved a prominent splash in the media featuring his expertise on the topic.
And why not? Studwell, who worked as a cataloger at NIU’s Founders Memorial Library for 20 years, was justifiably proud that his dogged research and prolific writing on the topic had made him the nation’s preeminent expert on the topic.
To share that knowledge, he created the Carol of the Year series in 1986, and over the next 25 years he share his expertise with any reporter that called – sitting for more than 600 media interviews.
Whether it was a small town radio station on the Plains, or the Wall Street Journal, Studwell was happy to chat for as long as any reporter liked. He patiently answered all of their questions about a particular year’s honoree, or about carols in general. He unfailingly provided the pithy quotes that made for good copy and great sound bites, and each year kept a tally of his media hits.
There is no doubt that he would have been delighted by the coverage in the Dec. 7 edition of the Chicago Tribune.
There, on the bottom of the front page, was a picture of Bill peering out from beneath a pile of brightly wrapped Christmas packages. The accompanying story, by reporter Angie Leventis Lourgos, told of his dedication to Christmas carols and how important it was to him that his series reach its planned conclusion this year.
An inside page featured a complete listing of every carol he ever honored, along with some fun facts for each song. An online version of the story also included links to YouTube videos of each of the honored carols.
“I really wish that Bill was around to see this,” said Joe King of NIU Media Relations and Internal Communications, who helped Studwell promote the Carol of the Year series for the last 13 years. “It would have made for a very merry Christmas for him.”