Roger Sadler finishes 28th year teaching Leathernecks

A long-time professor in the broadcasting and journalism department is stepping down this month.

Roger Sadler is nearing the end of his 57th semester at Western Illinois University. Sadler has spent time in New York, Oklahoma, Missouri and Indiana before becoming part of the Macomb community. After working at a radio station as a teenager, Sadler decided to go to college for communications and journalism, which he used to land jobs at various radio and TV stations.

Currently, he is the faculty advisor at 88.3 The Dog, where he oversees operations and makes sure that students are following legal guidelines. In addition to providing experience and opportunities for students, Western’s radio station is open to the community. It also creates an enjoyable work environment, according to Sadler.

“Most people who get involved with radio are very outgoing and excited to be on the air,” Sadler said. “We’ve had a lot of fun there.”

Since 1990, Sadler has been a part of Western’s award-winning broadcasting department, which he also finds to be unique.

“People have found good jobs in the industry, but what I like best up here is that it’s a family atmosphere,” he said. “It’s not like other departments where you have classes and that’s it. It’s a different working relationship where you get a lot closer to students, and that makes it fun.”

Sadler says the main appeal of the department is that it’s hands-on. Students operate cameras, talk on the radio or work for the newspaper. Some schools are hesitant to put students in charge, but he finds that counter-productive.

“Students come in here the first day of their freshman year, and we’ll put them to work,” Sadler said. “We believe you learn by doing. The experience is very valuable. That’s the strength of our department and that’s why a lot of students choose to come here.”

With the help of Facebook and LinkedIn, Sadler helps update the wall of bios on the third floor of Sallee Hall.

The wall is made up of more than 650 photos and profiles of Western graduates who found work in the broadcasting or journalism industry.

“I enjoy keeping track of where, not just students, but our friends are working,” he said, “because up here, we really think of our students as our friends and our coworkers.”

One of Sadler’s proudest accomplishments is writing his own textbook, which he uses for his law classes. “Electronic Media Law” was published in 2005 and is also used by universities in Florida and Colorado. In 1996 and 1998, he hosted the speech and debate nationals. The tournaments gathered competition from students from more than 100 different countries.

Some students may know Sadler from his voice impression of Donald Duck. As he cleans out his office, he continues to find ducks and duck-themed memorabilia that students gave to him throughout the years. He has enough duck ties – many of which he bought himself – to last an entire semester. Technology has changed drastically in his 28 years as an educator. He acknowledges that it’s more convenient for students to be able to complete homework on their phones or lap tops, but he prefers the more personal experience.

“If you wanted to do an assignment, you had to come up to the third floor of Sallee,” Sadler said. “I miss that because it used to be a huge gathering place. Now students don’t need to hang around as much and it’s not as much fun.”

Sadler made plenty of friends during his time at Western, which is why he would consider returning on a part-time basis in the future.

Sadler leaves the door open to returning to a classroom in the future. If Western wants him back to teach on a parttime basis, it may be hard for him to pass up.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Sadler said. “I’m going to miss those relationships.”

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