Megan Etlinger - Associate Producer
Jan. 31, 2014 by Nicole V. Rohr
Associate Producer Megan Etlinger has worked at WYCC PBS Chicago for five years, and she's almost 30 years old. "I don't like that," she said, in reference to getting older, but Etlinger has a lot to be proud of. This year, she won an Emmy for Food on the Go! and was nominated for an Emmy for In the Loop, and she works incredibly hard on the WYCC Mystery Marathon productions. She has also created all three of the student programs for our interns, production assistants, and shadows at WYCC.
"It’s been fun to experience all of those different things and grow in this digital age," Etlinger said, laughing about her recent attempts to adjust to social media. "It’s kind of known that I’m not very savvy with my technology, especially in the social media world. It might be my New Year’s resolution, because I didn’t make one."
Etlinger is quite knowledgable about filmmaking and television, though. She earned her bachelor's degree in Electronic Media from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), and her master's degree in Digital Cinema from DePaul University. During her second year at DePaul, she landed a part-time job at WYCC that worked with her class schedule. "Going to school for filmmaking is completely different than working in TV, so it was strange to combine the two," she reflected. "Producers for TV seem to be the directors for film. As a producer for TV, you’re in control of the whole thing. You’re responsible from the beginning to the end, and you’re taking ownership every step along the way." She explained that while in film school, she was turned off by the thought of producing because she loved seeing her creative vision from start to finish and film producers handled more of the details.
"I think that was one of the better discoveries [about TV]," she said. "The whole reason for my pursuing this field is that storytelling is just a powerful tool, and I think that’s one of the greatest things you can do is open someone’s eyes to something new." Etlinger said that WYCC has allowed her to figure out what she loved most about the industry, and at the end of the day, it's about what you feel when you work on or watch a short film or documentary-style production.
"That's what touches my heart most," she said, smiling. "I want to spend more time developing stories and getting it right and getting that emotion out there." Etlinger produced a powerful feature story about After School Matters during Season 2 of In the Loop, and meeting the young students and the instructors there inspired her. "Those are those moments that make everything worthwhile. Even if it doesn’t hit air, it’s just interviewing someone and allowing them to tell their story to you on camera. That’s all they want. That’s all anyone wants," she said.
Etlinger was also inspired by her family trip to Greece this past summer, where she spent more than two weeks with family she had not seen in 20 years. "We went and we got to drive to where my grandma and grandpa were born and lived," she said. "Their villages were like a five-minute drive away from each other, yet they met in Chicago. It’s so weird."
She said that they went to a cousin's wedding while in Greece, and that she ate all the time - although getting used to having no coffee to go was a little difficult. "Giant crazy concept for me. They didn’t have to-go cups. You would sit down and drink your coffee if you wanted coffee."
Everyone at WYCC knows that coffee makes her happy, but Etlinger shared a few other passions that keep her spirits lifted. She enjoys oil painting, drawing, crocheting and knitting - all creative activities to keep her occupied because she admittedly cannot sit still. "I am artistic at heart, I think. Painting really makes me happy, but I don’t do it as much as I should," she said. "I always have a book in my purse that I never pull out, but it’s there to draw in. And I’ve had one since high school. I have different ones – the high school book, the college book, the grad school book… They’re like diaries to me now."
Etlinger remembers sitting with her aunt, who only spoke Greek, as a child and being fascinated by knitting and crocheting. Now, after being too shy to pick up those skills as a kid, she loves making scarves and blankets. "I started making blankets for babies. We’ve had three newborns in the family. That’s kind of cool. Except they [the blankets] are weirdly shaped and stuff. I don’t know the size of a baby," she said laughing.
So, this artistic girl from Palos Park, Ill., full of life and a little sarcasm, continues to accomplish great things. She gave much credit to her mother, Fannie, and her father, Len, and also to her older brother who lives in California. Family is important to her, and her work at WYCC keeps her career interesting. She said that she looks forward to working with Love Is Murder on more WYCC Mystery Marathon events in the future, and also to being a part of the first season of Buddy Guy's Legends Presents: The Chicago Blues, premiering this fall.
"I think that this show [Buddy Guy's] is going to be great and it’s just really a great privilege to be able to work on it, even in the littlest degree," she said, "It’s so refreshing to work on something that everyone’s so happy to be a part of. I love it. And I’m happy to do it."