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Roger Young

Roger Young

Emmy-winning director | Did ‘Magnum P.I.’ pilot | Class of 1965

Fifty-plus years later, he still doesn’t know what he did wrong. But getting fired from his part-time gig at WILL Radio might just be the best thing that ever happened to Roger Young (’65).

The Emmy-winning, Urbana-born, Mahomet-raised director of the “Magnum P.I.” pilot takes it from here.

“WILL Radio used to be on the top floor of Gregory Hall. I used to work there while preparing for a journalism career. One day, I came to work, and the head of the station met me in the hallway and fired me. He gave no reason. Just ‘You’re fired!’

“Maybe he should have run for President.

“So, as I’m walking out of the building, head down, wondering how I was going to eat all next week, I met a friend who asked me what was wrong. I told her and she said: ‘Well, they are looking for a floor manager at WILL-TV.’

“‘What’s a floor manager?’ I asked. She shrugged her soldiers and walked away.  

“I looked all over campus and finally found WILL-TV. I applied for the floor manager job. Got it. Floor manager is the guy who counts down 3-2-1 ... You’re on. In a month, I was directing the news. A few months later, I was directing the news at WCIA, the CBS affiliate, and the news at WILL. Then, producing and directing a morning show at CIA, then on to Chicago, then Hollywood.

“That guy fired me into a career directing” episodes of “Lou Grant,” “Knots Landing” and “Law & Order,” among others, Young says.

“So I love that hallway on the top floor of Gregory Hall.”