2013 Annual Report

Embracing Change
cover of the 2013 Illinois Public Media annual report

Read the digital version of the 2013 Illinois Public Media Annual Report

Video and audio online bonus material


Dear Friends,

Helping you make sense of your world is a primary mission for Illinois Public Media.

That world is evolving at a breathtaking pace.  Users of our public media service have access to more information than ever. With a click, touch or swipe, they can get answers to questions and connect to people across the globe. Our viewers and listeners tap new technology and devices that enable them to take news and entertainment with them wherever they go and access it when their schedule permits.

Yet as media and information become more pervasive in our lives, fewer traditional media organizations are surviving to help orient people to what is happening around them. Newspapers are folding, radio stations rarely have ties to the community and national news organizations have cut their number of reporting bureaus.

In this world of change, Illinois Public Media has kept right on producing strong, creative content to keep you informed, inspired and entertained.  But we’re changing too, embracing the evolution in technology to give you more ways to connect with us. We added streaming of our FM signal in the past year with the launch of our redesigned website, and began offering a free mobile radio app for our AM and FM listeners.

We’re also trying new ways to make the most of our budget by sharing administrative and technical resources. In September, I assumed interim general management duties at Illinois Public Media while continuing my CEO responsibilities at WTVP in Peoria. We’re looking for ways that the two operations can cooperate and collaborate for efficiency and cost effectiveness, and for creation of meaningful local programming.

In another cooperative venture, Illinois Edition of PBS LearningMedia, we are working with other PBS stations in Illinois to provide lesson plans and online resources for the more than 19,500 Illinois teachers who have signed up for the service to engage their students. We’ve also joined with an alliance of other public television stations around the country to share technical resources.

Enjoy this look back at the past year. Our WILL-TV production staff brought viewers an outstanding line-up of Illinois trailblazers on our re-launched Illinois Pioneers series, with one of the best interviewers we know, David Inge, posing the questions. We created and aired TV specials about Medicare 7, 8 or 9 founder Dan Perrino, the late film critic Roger Ebert, cooking with local foods, and a farm-to-table dinner at Prairie Fruits Farm.  We helped residents of Monticello create a video story about their town, We Are … Monticello for WILL-TV.

WILL-AM’s Focus and our news team addressed issues such as immigration and health care reform, home births, and the resurgence of meth in central Illinois.

We opened our doors for a children’s open house with PBS Kids entertainer Mr. Steve, invited the public to a preview party for Season 4 of Downton Abbey, and brought you screenings and discussions of great independent films with our Community Cinema series.  WILL-FM’s Live & Local with Kevin Kelly hosted performing artists from around Illinois for conversation and live music.

You helped make all of this possible with your generous financial contributions. Thanks to you, we raised funds for next year’s budget with fewer on-air pledge hours. We appreciate your support as we expand and improve our programs and services, in part by taking advantage of changes in the world of media and information.

We think change is a good thing—it challenges us to try new ways of doing things as we maintain the excellent public media service we’ve provided for 91 years. One thing that will never change is our commitment to quality content and service.

Chet Tomczyk
Interim General Manager

Take WILL radio everywhere with our mobile app

WILL Radio listeners can now listen anywhere by downloading our free WILL Radio app for smart phones and mobile devices. It’s a way to listen with one touch, either to a live stream or to programs that aired earlier in the day.

A new way to listen to WILL-FM

With the launch of our redesigned website on Feb. 14, we began streaming our WILL-FM signal over the Internet. WILL-AM began streaming in July of 2000, but WILL-FM streaming was delayed because of requirements that we report our playlists to rights holders for the music. To listen online, click on “listen” at the top of the page, then select either WILL-AM or WILL-FM and the player will pop up.

A new interim general manager

Chet Tomczyk took over as interim general manager at Illinois Public Media in September after former general manager Mark Leonard left for Nebraska Educational Telecommunications. Chet continued his responsibilities as CEO of WTVP in Peoria. The sharing of a general manager gives both public media operations the opportunity for collaboration and innovation.

New generator part of national alert system

A new 350 KW generator installed next to Campbell Hall is part of a national emergency alert network created by Congress to enable public TV stations to send emergency alerts to local commercial mobile service providers.  It ensures a reliable emergency alert service if utility power is lost at Illinois Public Media’s studios. A PBS WARN (Warning, Alert, and Response Network) federal grant provided $325,881 for the generator, with an additional $30,000 provided by the U of I. The generator will provide emergency power for technical areas in Campbell Hall to maintain our program feeds to our FM and TV transmitters.

Illinois Radio Reader Move to Campbell Hall

In mid-June, more than 60 Illinois Radio Reader volunteers and IRR director Deane Geiken moved into Campbell Hall to join the rest of Illinois Public Media staff. The move, which involved reconfiguring every aspect of IRR’s operations, was completed with interruption to the service. The free service offers audio of news and information for blind and print-impaired people. In May, IRR raised $16,000—up $4,000 from 2012—from the Vintage Vinyl sale.

Volunteer videographers capture life in Monticello

Julie Glawe had never used a video camera when she decided to become a volunteer videographer to help tell the story of Monticello for WILL-TV’s first “We Are …” project in the fall. 

Julie filmed a story about volunteers for Piatt County Faith in Action, but she also shot footage for a story about agriculture in the area. Using a video camera she borrowed from WILL-TV, she became one of the project’s most enthusiastic volunteers, filming from the top of a grain elevator and talking a pilot into taking her up in a plane to shoot farm fields from the air. “I loved it!,” she said. “I totally got into capturing a story on camera.”

The projects “took some time and took some thought and it’s not that easy,” she said. “There’s a new found respect for those camera guys and the guys who tell the story.”

WILL-TV provided training and video cameras, and encouraged Monticello residents to make video stories that WILL-TV edited together into a program about the city. More than 130 people made a pledge of support to Illinois Public Media when the fundraising program aired on WILL-TV on Dec. 5.

After seeing the show, Brian Fulton, who videotaped several stories, said he was proud of the work the volunteers did. “I loved it. I was amazed,” he said.  “When we sat down in September and discussed ideas for the show, I questioned how it would come together and if the quality was going to be there. I was so impressed with the quality and particularly the quantity of the work we did.”

Mid-American Gardener

Mid-American Gardener host Dianne Noland and her panel of experts solicited video questions from viewers and answered them on the air. They added a “Did You Know?” segment and the “Mid-American Gardener Quiz,” a short 20-second multiple choice quiz, and made panelist “show and tell” segments a weekly feature.

Getting a behind-the-scenes look at WILL

WILL video production manager Jeff Cunningham discusses primary sources as they relate to TV production with students from Southside Elementary School. Throughout the spring, all fourth-grade students in the Champaign public school district took a tour of WILL as part of their social studies curriculum. Students learned about the ways that primary sources are used, from research for school reports to creating documentaries.

13 Illinois pioneers interviewed during successful season

Illinois Pioneers returned to WILL-TV in September, with retired WILL-AM host David Inge coming back to conduct engaging interviews with trailblazers from central Illinois. The impressive 13-show line-up included former Illini basketball coach Lou Henson, U of I early childhood education pioneer Lilian Katz, Wolfram Research founder Theo Gray, disability education advocate Tim Nugent,  Little Theatre on the Square founder Guy Little, former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar and renowned baritone Nathan Gunn .

Video bonus: Watch online to see any of the Illinois Pioneers interviews you missed.

Remembering Medicare Man 

A new WILL-TV special in August, Medicare Man: Remembering Dan Perrino and Medicare 7, 8 or 9, paid tribute to Dan Perrino and the Dixieland jazz band he founded, looking back at the group’s history with concert footage, new interviews with band members, archival photos and excerpts of previously taped interviews with Perrino.

Come and Get It! Your Family Dinner Favorites

In March, WILL-TV selected five home cooks to prepare their family’s favorite food in a special cooking show on WILL-TV. They were joined by host Lisa Bralts and experts including chef Alisa DeMarco of Prairie Fruits Farm, Thad Morrow of bacaro Restaurant, Hans and Katie Bishop of PrairiErth Farm, and Todd Fusco, who manages Corkscrew Wine Emporium and Buvons Wine Bar in Urbana.

Video bonus: Watch bacaro chef Thad Morrow and his young son, Gus, make braised chicken thighs with balsamic vinegar.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0vVjjqcIBA&feature=youtu.be

A farm-to-table chronicle

From June to October, WILL-TV followed the arc of a farm-to table meal that began—and ended—on the farm, Prairie Fruits Farm north of Champaign-Urbana. Videographer Tim Meyers and producer Lisa Bralts showed viewers how the fruit orchard, at one time lush with blackberries, peaches, pears and apples, dwindled with each weekly U-pick. The vegetable gardens were transformed as the deep greens and bright reds of basil and tomatoes gave way to the hardier fall crops. They created a documentary that aired on WILL-TV in December about the creation of the meal, which was also a fundraising dinner for Illinois Public Media.

Community Cinema moves to Spurlock for 2013

Illinois Public Media’s Community Cinema series moved to the University of Illinois Spurlock Museum in the fall, with screenings and discussions of films from the PBS Independent Lens series. In October, this crowd watched Los Graduados/The Graduates about efforts to keep Latino students in school.

Illinois Edition resources inspire learning

As Molly Delaney raced across a muddy farm field, she saw Peoria science teacher Emily Dawson enthusiastically waving a small yellow box. Attached to it were a parachute and a shredded weather balloon. “We found it! We found it!” Emily shouted.

Molly, Illinois Public Media’s educational outreach director, was part of the WILL team joining Peoria public TV station WTVP in hunting the box and balloon. They had almost given up after hours of searching.

Earlier in the day Emily and her Peoria Riverview Grade School students launched the balloon near Peoria, inspired by a PBS video made available to teachers and students on Illinois Edition of PBS LearningMedia. Students researched and planned the launch, then analyzed and reported on data collected during the balloon’s 100,000-foot flight.

The small yellow box contained cameras that captured footage of the weather balloon’s flight to the edge of the atmosphere, revealing images that showed the curvature of the earth, the blackness of space, and an overhead shot of the crowd that gathered to watch the balloon’s ascent.

This was one of many success stories heard during the past year from teachers who are using Illinois Edition, a cooperative project of public TV stations in Illinois, in their classrooms. Help us spread the word about this innovative resource, available at illinois.pbslearningmedia.org.

Video bonus: Watch coverage of the weather balloon’s flight.

Book Mentor Project by the numbers

  • 103 volunteer book mentors from the community
  • 5,000 books provided to 720 families yearly
  • 100% of Champaign County Head Start families reached
  • 42 early childhood classrooms in program
  • Who are our book mentors? Let us introduce you to four of them.

George Willhite, retired editor

 “After I go in and read to the kids, I always leave more energetic than when I went in. The kids just absorb everything. They’re adorable. If I had to spend all day in the classroom with them, though, I’d be exhausted!”

Jessica Holmes, credit union employee

“I just really enjoy the kids and the teachers. These kids are our future. They’re going to be the presidents, doctors, lawyers, bank tellers, mail carriers and other workers. Reading was so important to me as a child so I enjoy sharing books with these kids. If I had to give up some of my volunteer work, the last thing I would give up is being a book mentor.”

Jay Barr, attorney, and Raina Dyer Barr, post-doctoral researcher in education

“When the kids in the classroom see me coming, they’re really excited to hear the story and do the activity. I hope we’re showing the kids that we like to read, that it’s fun, and that maybe we can influence them to like reading, too.” Raina

Veterans find Uni High students to be eager interviewers

Vietnam veteran Steve Allen didn’t talk much about his years in combat when he returned from the war. “When we came home, the atmosphere wasn’t conducive to speaking of being a veteran. There were places that were actually hostile to us,” he said. An infantry commander in Vietnam, he began reconnecting with members of his platoon after the dedication of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., in 1982.

When University Laboratory High School students asked to interview him about his military service for a WILL radio documentary, he didn’t know what the 12- and 13-year-old students had heard about the war and learned in their textbooks. “But those kids were wonderful,” said Allen, who is retired from his work as a school guidance counselor in Newman, Ill. “They were open and sincere, and I think they were truly interested and willing to learn.”

Terry Hairrell, who was drafted and served in Vietnam in 1967-68, had a similar experience. “I guess it made me feel important that the younger generation wanted to know what a bunch of old guys, men and women, went through,” he said. He found the students were particularly interested in a soldier’s everyday life in Vietnam. “I told them about how we would rig plastic explosives to heat up our C-rations,” he said. “They seemed really interested in that.”

The students’ hour-long documentary, From the Frontlines to the Home Front: Inside Views of the Military 1940-2012, along with a series of shorter reports, aired on WILL Radio in November. Students invited the public to a special interactive discussion about the changing military at the Champaign Public Library where participants listened to parts of the students’ interviews and discussed issues raised by them.

Uni teacher Janet Morford said students get a great response each year when they conduct interviews for an oral history project with WILL Radio. “The richness of every project comes down to the incredible conversations these interviewees are willing to have with these young students,” said Morford, who helped the students produce the pieces, along with WILL’s Dave Dickey.

Audio bonus: Listen to the students’ radio stories and documentary online.

Stratton student leaders help teach classmates

Illinois Public Media staffers were back at the Stratton Leadership & MicroSociety Magnet School in Champaign for a second year, helping a new group of students learn reporting and video production skills.

This school year, three students who mastered skills last year are helping teach classmates who are new to the project. Fourth grader Michael Gbor is the student manager of Stratton’s TV production studio. He’s fielded questions like how to set up the cameras and how to make sure subjects are framed correctly in the camera lens. “Sometimes, they forget to push ‘record,’ ” he said.

Third grader Waylon Demkov and fourth grader Fatima Ramirez are assistant managers.

WILL’s Henry Radcliffe, who works with Stratton students two days a week in the TV studio, said he’s appreciated having the student managers to field basic questions, leaving him free for more in-depth instruction. IPM’s educational outreach director, Molly Delaney, is back at Stratton teaching media literacy, with tailored lessons for each grade level.

Video bonus: Watch one of the students’ newscasts.

Illinois Public Media News goes for depth and context

Scott Cameron, who joined the staff in July as director of news and public affairs, talks to the public affairs team in the newsroom.  The team concentrated on depth and context during the past year. Sound-rich coverage and follow-up reports about the tornadoes that struck Gifford in November reflected the approach. So did a Focus program on grain bin safety that followed the accidental death of a Sidney man. The survivor of another accident described his experience to listeners. “What could have been a short segment turned into a story about people’s lives and experience in a way that got people to call in with their own experiences,” Scott said. A partnership with CU-Citizen Access resulted in a multi-media story about the resurgence of meth in central Illinois, with video from the project becoming Illinois Public Media’s first local news segments on PBS NewsHour Weekend.

Live and Local is a stage for Illinois artists

Dean Karras, who organizes the Pipers’ Hut Irish music series in Champaign-Urbana, says getting one of his artists on WILL-FM’s Live & Local with Kevin Kelly helps build an audience for concerts. But it’s just important to him that it makes good Irish music available to people listening on the radio. “For me, it’s all about the music,” he said. “But Kevin’s show does bring people to the concerts. He has the potential for reaching people that aren’t on any mailing list I can ever create.”

From chamber ensembles to the blues, Live and Local reflects the diverse musical interests of east central Illinois. The program features conversations with the artists and a healthy sampling of their music, frequently played live in our studio.

During the past year, Kevin hosted Pipers’ Hut artists Wee Banjo 3, Open the Door for Three, and Sarah McQuaid, among others.  He brought in performers from the Champaign-Urbana Folk and Roots Festival, the Champaign/Urbana Singer-Songwriter Collective, the Little Theater on the Square in Sullivan, the Champaign-Urbana Theater Company, and many others. In 2013, Kevin featured more than 180 Illinois artists or performing arts groups with interviews and/or live music.

In September, a number of artists from the University of Illinois Krannert Center’s Ellnora Guitar Festival appeared on the show, giving listeners a sneak preview of the popular festival. Bridget Lee-Calfas, advertising and publicity director for Krannert, said it’s clear to her that Live and Local is serving a need in the community with in-depth, well-researched, timely coverage of the region’s diverse music scene. “We receive regular positive feedback when our staff and artists are featured, and appreciate the way the program embraces the full spectrum of artistry.”

Bob Pearse, who plays in the band Strings Attached and also organizes open-air music at Kickapoo Landing, has appeared on the program and arranged for other bands to appear. “I’m always impressed by Kevin’s mastery of the medium. He makes you feel at ease and asks questions on wide-ranching topics.”

Why WILL-FM Classic Mornings host Vic Di Geronimo loves his job

“Anybody in the community can get excited about the music I have to share.”

“I have a relationship with the listeners. Since I’m here in the community, they can call me, email me and tell me what they like.”

“It’s a challenge each day to create a special and unique program with the audience in mind.”

From Vic’s listeners:

I just feel like he’s my personal deejay. He gives so much information about the programming he has lined up. He finds out all about the artists and the music. It’s such a joy to hear him talk about it.

Virginia Helmke, Bloomington

I appreciate the splendid selection of interesting classical compositions that Vic plays during his program. I can scarcely list all of the new compositions he has brought to my attention over the years, and I studied classical piano for years in my youth.

Mark Micale, Monticello

Central Illinois classical groups featured on Prairie Performances in 2013

  • Sinfonia da Camera
  • Baroque Artists of Champaign-Urbana
  • Champaign-Urbana Symphony
  • Eastern Symphony Orchestra
  • Jupiter Quartet
  • The Prairie Ensemble
  • Illinois Symphony Orchestra
  • Millikin-Decatur Symphony Orchestra
  • Illinois Chamber Orchestra
  • Prairie Voices
  • U of I Symphony

WILLAg By the Numbers

  • 330: Hours a year of agricultural news and analysis
  • 21: Different analysts featured on WILL-AM ag programming
  • 2,602: Subscribers to Illinois Public Media’s agricultural eNewsletter
  • 410: Producers and agribusiness people attending Illinois Public Media’s sold-out All Day Ag Outlook Meeting in March
  • 20: Evening Illinois Public Media Ag Outlook Meetings across Illinois, Indiana and Iowa
  • 800: Number of Twitter followers for WILLAg’s Todd Gleason and Dave Dickey

WILL Ag takes outlook meetings to Iowa and Missouri

Because of growth in Internet listening, WILL agricultural programming is drawing listeners far outside WILL-AM’s over-the air coverage area and beyond the signals of WILLAg’s commercial radio affiliates. So in 2013, Commodity Week and Closing Market Report host Todd Gleason and ag director Dave Dickey decided to offer agricultural marketing panels to a larger area as well. Todd went to Everly, Iowa, and Estherville, Iowa, for two meetings sponsored by longtime underwriter The Andersons grain group. In December, University of Missouri Extension sponsored a WILLAg marketing panel in Sikeston, Mo.

Ken Smith, general manager of The Andersons grain assets in Iowa, said partnering with WILL for the meetings resulted in a valuable experience for customers. “What Todd does very well is elicit conversation among a very well-informed group. The panel discussion made for a more conducive learning environment, and the producers appreciated being able to ask questions—they weren’t just listening.”

With travel expenses covered by the sponsor, he was able to travel farther to represent WILLAg, but still cover costs, Todd said. “What was really neat at the two Iowa events was that we had WILLAg listeners in each meeting, people who were listening to us on the Internet already, and of course this gave us a broader exposure. We were able to say to those who weren’t listeners, ‘We’re here and you’re able to listen to us every day.’ ”

Providing expertise on the Iowa panels were Elaine Kub of Mastering the Grain Markets in Elkhorn, Neb.; Sue Martin, Ag & Investment Services, Webster City, Iowa; Jacquie Voeks, Stewart Peterson, Champaign, Ill.; and Mike Zuzolo, Global Commodity Analytics & Consulting, Atchison, Kan.

WILLAg conducted 17 other outlook meetings in their traditional coverage area in Illinois and Indiana. Todd and Dave also increased their number of Twitter followers in 2013 to a combined total near 800. “Twitter lets us reach out to our listeners and supporters with breaking news that moves the commodity markets as well as information about agricultural commodities that we become aware of,” Dave said.

Many of the Twitter followers are outside the traditional WILL listening area. “It gives us another way to reach into places our signal doesn’t go and gives us new contacts,” Todd said.

What producers say about WILL Ag

 “WILL is the only place I can get multiple points of view on the markets multiple times per day.”

Tim Reinhart

 “WILL provides more and varied marketing information than canbe obtained from any other source. I really appreciate WILL’s dedication to agricultural programming.”

Pete Marron

“I use many sources of ag info, but of all, WILL is the most important to me.  I value all points of view.”

David Anderson

WILL vacationers travel to Iceland, England, Ireland and aboard Civil War Train

In 2013, 125 Friends of WILL joined Illinois Public Media tours, including Iceland in July, English gardens with Mid-American Gardener host Dianne Noland in July, the Civil War Train in September and England and Ireland in September. Their support of WILL through the trips helped make your favorite programs possible. Above, Dianne’s photo of Great Comp, a lovely seven-acre garden in Kent.. (At right) WILL travelers in Iceland.  At left, WILL travelers in Iceland.

Words in the Wind celebrates 5th year

It was Words in the Wind times two in 2013 as veteran actors staged their concert-style readings of children’s books twice, at Champaign’s Faith United Methodist Church and again at  Urbana’s Station Theatre with a more informal presentation. The shows raised about $1,000 for Illinois Public Media’s Book Mentor Project.

Rick Steves offers advice on world travel

More than 600 people from across central Illinois packed the I Hotel to get travel tips and insight from author and travel show host Rick Steves at our event March 14. After signing autographs, Rick hurried across campus to the WILL-TV studio to ask for support during our fundraising drive.

Exploring mobile devices at family technology event

Kids and parents posed with Buddy from PBS KIDS’ Dinosaur Train, plus tried the newest PBS learning apps on various mobile devices at Illinois Public Media’s Dino-Mite Devices family technology event in April at the Champaign Public Library.

Mr. Steve engages kids and families

Entertainer Steve Roslonek, who is PBS KIDS host Mr. Steve, used participatory songs with clever stories to hold kids in rapt attention at a PBS KIDS Open House at Illinois Public Media’s Campbell Hall in October. PNC brought their Mobile Learning Adventure exhibit for the occasion and storytellers entertained families on Friends’ Plaza.  We also sponsored Mr. Steve’s appearance at Springfield’s Sangamon Auditorium.


Associated Press Awards
WILL reporters and contributors won four awards in the downstate radio division of the 2012 Illinois Associated Press Broadcasters Association Journalism Excellence Contest, including best sports report and best hard news feature. Students at Urbana's Urbana University High School won 2nd place in the Best Series or Documentary category for their WILL-AM reports on the counter-culture era in Champaign-Urbana.

WILL awards include:

BEST SPORTS REPORT:  “Labor Strife in Professional Sports,” a Focus program hosted by Craig Cohen with Michael LeRoy, professor, School of Labor and Employment Relations and College of Law, University of Illinois. Travis Stansel was the producer.

BEST HARD NEWS FEATURE: “SCOTUS Health Care,”a story by Craig Cohen, Sean Powers and Jim Meadows about the impact in Illinois of the U.S. Supreme Court’s health care ruling.

BEST NEWSWRITER:  2nd Place: Sean Powers for a group of news stories on a variety of topics.

BEST SERIES oR DOCUMENTARY:  2nd Place:  “Beyond the Tie-Dye: Counterculture in Champaign/Urbana 1965-1975.” WILL's Dave Dickey, producer; University High School teacher Janet Morford, producer; and student producers Aishwarya Gautam, Shruti Vaidya and Sarah Joy Yockey. Students interviewed 16 Champaign-Urbana residents about their experiences during the period.

Girl Scouts Woman of Distinction
Illinois Public Media's educational outreach director, Molly Delaney, was honored by the Girl Scouts of Central Illinois, along with four other women, as Women of Distinction. Molly was recognized in the STEM education category.

Paul A. Funk Recognition Award
Todd Gleason, host of WILLAg’s Closing Market Report and Commodity Week, won a College of ACES’ Paul A. Funk Recognition Award for staff excellence. He was recognized for innovation and creativity in information technology and communication services, in part for his hosting and reporting for Illinois Public Media’s agricultural programs.

2012-2013 Community Advisory Committee

Thanks to our Community Advisory Committee for their help during the past year in gathering information and opinions about community issues and needs; heightening community awareness of WILL and its services; advocating for broad-based support of WILL; identifying and encouraging new sources of funding for specific projects to improve or expand service to the community; and reviewing and advising on legislation designed to improve the quality of public telecommunications.

Fiscal 2013 financial report

Illinois Public Media enjoyed a positive year in fundraising with $2.6 million in private support from members and local businesses. The increase in private funds provided financial stability in a year when state funding continued to decrease and federal funding was flat because of sequestration.

Noticeable changes in the budget:

  • Non-recurring funds from the University of Illinois increased to provide a portion of start-up costs for a joint master control project, a portion of labor costs related to a federal grant for an emergency generator, and the cost of moving Illinois Radio Reader to Campbell Hall.
  • The percentage of our budget spent for local programming and production increased as we expanded the number of local programs we produced in 2013, and the percentage spent decreased for broadcasting, development and promotions, and management and general.


Operating Revenues for 2013 and 2012
Operating revenues: 2013 2012
University Funding  2,043,891 2,165,034
Membership Contributions  2,402,102 2,140,394
Program Underwriting 369,302 355,110
State Grants 195,723 229,141
Other Grants 67,658 40,118
Community Service Grants and other Federal Grants   1,339,090 1,333,180
Other income  97,389 105,442
Total operating revenues 6,515,155 6,368,419
Non-operating Revenues for 2013 and 2012

Non-operating revenues

2013 2012
Indirect Support 2,964,163  2,417,705
Other 1,371,149 1,619,093


Total Revenues for 2013 and 2012
Total revenues 2013 2012
  10,850,467 10,405,217
Operating Expenses for 2013 and 2012
Operating expenses 2013 2012
Local Programming and Production 3,992,688 3,724,676
Broadcasting 1,566,056 1,671,702
Promotion and Development 2,405,580 2,474,032
Management and General 1,040,754 1,060,304
Other 563,919 521,038
Total Operating Expenses for 2013 and 2012
Total operating expenses  2013 2012
  9,568,997 9,451,752

With appreciation


WILL thanks the underwriters who make our programs and outreach project possible. Each of these businesses contributed more than $5,000 during the past year.

  • Agrigold Hybrids
  • Archer Daniels Midland
  • Busey
  • Auditory Care
  • C-U Mass Transit District
  • Champaign Telephone Company
  • Common Ground Food Coop
  • Community Blood Services
  • Corkscrew Wine Emporium
  • Farm Credit Services of Illinois
  • Friar Tuck
  • Heel to Toe
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
  • M2 on Neil
  • Rental City
  • Subaru of Champaign County
  • The Meredith Foundation
  • Wooden Hanger

2012-2013 GRANTS

Illinois Public Media

  • PNC for Book Mentor Project: $90,000 over three years
  • Independent Television Service (ITVS): $2,500 for piloting an online video screening tool
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting for emergency generator as part of Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) project: $325,881

Illinois Radio Reader

  • Illinois State Library, $29,232


  • College of Education (PBS LearningMedia)
  • Department of Journalism in College of Media (CU-Citizen Access, student internships)
  • Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Department of Theatre, Division of Intercollegiate Athletics Hometown Heroes, College of Education (Book Mentor Project)
  • School of Earth, Society, and Environment (Environmental Almanac)
  • Sousa Archives and Center for American Music (Medicare Man: Remembering Dan Perrino and Medicare 7, 8 or 9 documentary on WILL-TV)
  • Spurlock Museum (Community Cinema)
  • University Laboratory High School (The Changing Military Oral History Project)

Illinois Public Media
WILL radio.tv.online
College of Media

Campbell Hall for Public Telecommunication
300 N. Goodwin Ave., Urbana, IL 61801-2316

2012 Annual Report

Cover of the Illinois Public Media annual report for 2012

Dear friends,

What do you need to build a fulfilling life?

You can exist on food, air and water. But what are the elements that help you make the most of the life you have? What helps you engage with your community and connect with important issues at home and in the world?

Among those essentials in your life, we hope you count on Illinois Public Media.

During the past year, our public media service provided news reports with vital information from our region and around the world; music that stirred and soothed the spirit; dramas such as Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs that let you escape to another time and place; and documentaries, science and nature programs that helped bring the world into focus.

WILL-TV’s Mid-American Gardener offered gardeners reliable information tailored to our growing region, and WILL-AM’s Focus gave listeners a chance to interact with newsmakers and experts on a wide variety of topics. Children’s programs like the new Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood provided educational entertainment that parents could trust.

We continued to work hard to be responsive to community needs, concentrating a day of programming on housing challenges in our area, and another on local foods. We aired a series of reports on health and wellness, and directed many hours of staff time to reporting about the election and hosting two political debates in the 13th Congressional District primary and general election races. Our Book Mentor Project added a technology component to activities with books and videos, and we received enthusiastic feedback from teachers about the Illinois Edition of PBS LearningMedia, a digital resource library we’ve made available for Illinois students and teachers.

To respond to another need, Illinois Public Media will become part of a national emergency alert network created by Congress. We received a $325,881 federal grant, which, along with $30,000 from the University of Illinois, will fund a generator, ensuring a reliable emergency alert service in the event of a loss of electrical service for Illinois Public Media’s studios. The generator is scheduled to be installed in 2013 and will provide technical power in case of a power loss for the program feed from Campbell Hall to our FM and TV transmitters. For national security or a national disaster, public TV stations can provide a means to get alerts to their broadcast audience and cellular users.

In the past year, Illinois Public Media said goodbye to some good friends. Retirements, including that of Focus host David Inge, meant we lost valued colleagues. But they also gave us the opportunity to look at our staffing and program schedules to make sure we were making the best use of our resources.

We work hard to do the most we can within our budget. One of the steps we’re taking is to join a national alliance of television stations that will partner to share technical resources. This will help us meet our future equipment needs by sharing an investment in hardware with other public broadcast stations, rather than duplicating our investments in technical infrastructure.

The funding model for public media, in which every dollar of federal support brings in six dollars of private support from users of the service, remains under threat. We appreciate your continued letters and phone calls to let your elected representatives know about the essential quality of public broadcasting in your life. Signing up to receive notifications at 170millionamericans.org will be your most timely source of information about federal funding in the coming year.

Your generous financial contributions are crucial—they’re the reason our service celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2012. Thanks for joining with us to keep public media strong in central Illinois!

Mark Leonard General Manager

Learning everywhere: books, video, games on iPads

As part of Illinois Public Media’s Book Mentor Project, children in Champaign County Head Start classrooms used iPads to play PBS math and literacy learning games. Illinois Public Media provided two PBSKids Mobile Media Labs, including iPads and Kindle Fires, to the classrooms. CPB and PBS furnished the Media Labs as part of a project to encourage stations to use new PBS resources, including apps and games for mobile devices, in their educational outreach efforts.

Molly Delaney, Illinois Public Media educational outreach director, said she correctly predicted that the children could learn how to use the touch screens fairly quickly. “But it was amazing to see how engaged they were and how there was a group dynamic to the learning as kids crowded around the iPad and helped each other,” she said.

Book mentors still read books to the kids and do activities, but technology is an additional component this year, Molly said. The school district furnished new interactive white boards and iPads for all of its Champaign Early Childhood Center classrooms, and they’ll be integrated into the Book Mentor Project to take advantage of the PBS mobile apps.

Molly and Illinois Public Media’s community partners Christie Norton of Head Start and Amy Hayden of the Champaign Early Childhood Center went to Washington, D.C., to get training on how to leverage new PBS “transmedia” content in the classroom. The message they heard was that the key to enhancing learning with technology is using the right content on the right device at the right time.

“We were really excited to bring back this technology to our community,” Molly said. “We’ve seen how powerful these educational tools are and we’re dedicating ourselves to pursuing funding so we can incorporate additional technology in all of the Head Start classrooms in Champaign County.”

Words in the Wind

Local actors came together in a benefit performance for Illinois Public Media’s Book Mentor Project, raising more than $800 that will be used to buy two iPads for Head Start book mentor classrooms.

The fourth annual concert-style reading of children’s books by veteran actors was organized by U of I associate professor of theater Tom Mitchell, and featured performances by actors from The Station Theatre, Urbana; Parkland College Theatre, Champaign; Champaign-Urbana Theatre Company; Zoo Improv, Champaign; and the University of Illinois Department of Theatre.

“The actors not only provided a fun time for all, but made a significant contribution for Head Start children in our area,” said Illinois Public Media educational outreach director Molly Delaney.

Illinois PBS LearningMedia update

Results of a pilot study of the Illinois Edition of PBS LearningMedia, a free, on-demand media resource designed to help PreK-12 educators integrate technology to teach core subjects in the classroom, showed that the 74 participating teachers highly recommend the service.

“They were excited about how engaged students were when using resources, and they appreciated that it was free, easy to use, had a variety of high-quality resources and connected easily to their curriculum,” said Molly Delaney, educational outreach director for Illinois Public Media.

With the positive feedback from the pilot, Illinois public broadcasters pushed forward this year with a full launch of Illinois PBS LearningMedia. More than 3,500 teachers in the state have signed up to use the service, with a 75 percent increase since the beginning of the school year.

Chad Wickard, a 5th and 6th grade teacher at the Center for Math and Science in Rockford, said he’s seen the light bulb come on when kids who have been frustrated trying to “get” something then watch a PBS LearningMedia video. “You see that light bulb effect and you’re like, okay, this is working. It’s a two-minute video that brings together this hour-long lesson that I’ve been trying to teach them. I put in that video and all of a sudden the light goes on.”

Emily Dawson, a junior high science teacher in East Peoria, said, “My students are telling me they are picturing the video as they are taking the test. It’s making the connections between what we’ve learned in the book, what they’ve watched, and what they are able to retain and learn.”

Molly and Illinois Public Media general manager Mark Leonard presented the study results and information about Illinois PBS LearningMedia at the PBS annual meeting in Denver in May. Molly also presented LearningMedia resources in September at the Chicago meeting of the Shared Learning Collaborative, a group of tech developers and educators working to make personalized learning a reality for every U.S. student by improving the integration of technology in the classroom.

Creating a media venture with Stratton students

Not everyone getting ready for Strattonville’s newscast wanted to be on camera. Some of the students were just as content working the audio board or standing behind the camera. Others wanted a bit of power—they wanted to be the director.

Learning the different jobs for producing a school video newscast was one of the first steps students in Champaign’s Stratton Elementary School took in October for their “media venture,” part of their school microsociety that students named Strattonville. WILL received a grant from Unit 4 Schools to provide training for both students and teachers.

Students learned that reading a teleprompter isn’t as easy as it looks. How do you do it without moving your head as you scan the lines? They found that speaking into a microphone doesn’t come naturally to everybody and that for avoiding big mistakes, listening carefully to the director is just as important as using the video equipment correctly.

Illinois Public Media’s Henry Radcliffe and College of Media intern Alison Marcotte taught the students TV studio production; Kimberlie Kranich showed them how to interview, report and research; and Molly Delaney taught them media literacy skills.

Vacationing with WILL

In 2012, nearly 200 Friends of WILL took a trip with Illinois Public Media. Our expanding lineup of tours has been a way for the stations to increase fundraising without adding days of on-air fund drives. In February, 50 fans of WILL went by motor coach to Chicago to see a live taping of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. They watched the show, hung out with host Peter Sagal, Carl Kasell and the panelists afterward, then headed back home in a marathon one-night trip. We plan to do it again in February 2013.

Later in the spring, a group of 30 Friends traveled to Cuba with Collette Vacations. On a government-sponsored “people to people” tour, they walked the beautiful streets of Havana, and visited small historic cities with beautiful colonial architecture and vibrant street markets, a community known for its hand-decorated textiles, a state-run cigar factory, and a privately owned restaurant and farm.

Passengers on our Civil War Train Trip toured the southern battlefields, museums and more while staying aboard meticulously restored vintage train cars.A historian with special knowledge of the Civil War also accompanied 42 train-and-history-buff travelers. The 2013 train trip will include eastern Civil War sites and will highlight American historical sites such as colonial Williamsburg.

In September, WILL travelers went on a “Masterpiece and Mystery” Tour of England and Wales. They got a custom tour of Holmfirth, the Yorkshire village known to WILL viewers as home of Last of the Summer Wine. Their tour guide: Last of the Summer Wine producer Alan J.W. Bell. They had their photo taken in front of Highclere Castle, known to Masterpiece fans as Downton Abbey, and took a private tour of the famous house.

Thanks to our travelers, whose support of these trips helped to make your favorite programs possible. Stay tuned for information on our 2013 tours! New destinations include Iceland (with an optional trip to Greenland), a gardener’s tour of England with Mid-American Gardener host Dianne Noland, and another “Masterpiece and More” trip to England … and Ireland!

Live and Local’s old-time piano music show

In May, Live and Local host Kevin Kelly got together five contestants and former contestants to play for a live audience at The Blind Pig in advance of the Old-Time Piano Playing Contest in Peoria. The show was recorded and replayed on Kevin’s program.

A time shift for Live and Local

In September, WILL-FM 90.9’s Live and Local with Kevin Kelly moved from its noon timeslot to 4 pm weekdays, preceding NPR’s All Things Considered. The program continued to incorporate interviews with artists and many genres of acoustic music, updating listeners about local music by area and national performers.

When Live and Local moved to later in the day, it also underwent a slight change in format: Three days a week Kevin does the usual interview-with-music show, with live performances whenever possible. For two shows a week, he plays recordings by local artists, and by national and international artists who visit the show. He had a great response to a request for CDs so he could expand WILL’s library of recordings by local artists who play acoustic classical, jazz, blues, bluegrass, old-time, ragtime, folk, Celtic and other genres.

Vic Di Geronimo celebrates two-year anniversary of Classic Mornings

As Vic Di Geronimo celebrated the two-year anniversary of his Classic Mornings program in April, he continued to carefully select and research great classical music, and interweave it with commentary and stories about the music to appeal to both new listeners and those who have been listening for years. He particularly enjoys the creative process in coming up with a theme for Classic Morning Prelude, a 10-minute segment that airs on WILL-FM 90.9 at 8:49 am. Because the segment comes at the end of Morning Edition, he knows he has the opportunity to catch some regular news listeners that are not regular classical music listeners.

For WILLAg, first ever bus tour, rearranged analyst schedule

Farmers and their families took a bus trip to “Follow the Corn” from the fields of the Midwest down the Mississippi River to export markets in New Orleans Aug. 20-24. WILL’s Todd Gleason was the tour host and designer; 54 Friends of WILL traveled with Todd on our first ever WILLAg tour. A highlight of the week-long adventure was a tour of the Zen Noh Grain export elevator in Convent, La., which handles 400 million bushels of corn annually.

Among other developments in agricultural programming this past year, the retirement of analyst Paul Cooley in April allowed agricultural programming director Dave Dickey to bring Risk Management Commodities, represented by Bill Gentry, back into a weekly presence in the Pre-Opening Market Report. Jacquie Voeks of Stewart Peterson Group joined the analysts on the Opening and Closing Market reports.

In My Backyard, Lisa Bralts’ commentary segments about the intersection of food and neighborhoods, settled into a permanent slot in the Closing Market Report, offering an alternative to commodity-driven programming.

The All Day Ag Outlook Meeting at the Beef House in Covington, Ind., drew a sold-out crowd once again, and our Ag eLetter was emailed weekly to more than 2,900 people.

A new host for Focus

Craig Cohen became the interim host of WILL-AM’s Focus in September, following the retirement of longtime Focus host David Inge. Craig, who is also Illinois Public Media director of news and public affairs, retained Focus as a thoughtful, respectful conversation about the issues and ideas affecting our world. Focus became a one-hour program, a change necessitated by staff retirements and a tightened budget. By moving Fresh Air to 11 am, WILL-AM 580 was able to add Talk of the Nation to its schedule at 1 pm, offering listeners the opportunity to join discussions with decision-makers, authors, academicians and artists from around the world.

Illinois Radio Reader: Now mobile!

More Illinois Radio Reader users began accessing the service on the Internet during the past year. Illinois Public Media’s service for blind and visually impaired people is available via Web streaming as well as special radio receivers. In addition, IRR’s programming became available on the mobile app iBlinkRadio, which uses smart phone technology to serve the visually impaired community.

IRR’s Vintage Vinyl sale in May raised more than $14,000 for the service.And finally, the Illinois Radio Reader was awarded $2,800 from the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois for the purchase of sub-carrier radios provided to new IRR listeners.

U of I journalism students report from Turkey on WILL-TV

In May, under the guidance of professor Nancy Benson, nine U of I journalism students reported stories from Turkey, a secular Muslim country of 75 million people. They explored a wide variety of issues with the goal of better educating the American public, producing a half-hour television special that aired on WILL-TV in September.

Illinois Travels to Turkey highlighted the role of Islam in daily life, the debate among Turkish women over whether to wear a head scarf, the fight for a free press, daily lives of LGBT residents of Turkey and efforts to help victims of domestic violence in the country.

Solution developed for DIRECTV interference

After months of interference for viewers trying to watch WILL-TV on DIRECTV, Illinois Public Media developed a solution to provide a clear WILL-TV signal to the satellite provider. The station began delivering its signal to DIRECTV through a fiber-optic cable in July.

IPM invested $15,000 on equipment and committed to a recurring $1,400 monthly fee to implement the fiber-optic fix after being unable to determine the source of the interference, despite testing by the FCC.

“We understood the frustration of DIRECTV subscribers,” said IPM general manager Mark Leonard. “We were frustrated, too, that we could not find the source of the interference.” DIRECTV has an estimated 65,000 subscribers in the WILL-TV designated market area.

The interference created a loss of sound, poor picture quality and, in some cases, a complete loss of the WILL-TV signal from 5:25 pm until about 6:25 am each day. An investigation detected a signal near the DIRECTV regional receiving and transmitting site in Springfield that was interfering with WILL-TV’s signal, but the offending source remained a mystery.

4th graders learn about primary sources on WILL tours

Every Champaign Unit 4 fourth grader toured WILL during in the spring of 2012 as part of their social studies curriculum. “The tours provided a tangible local connection for us with students and strengthened our relationship with teachers and families,” said Molly Delaney, Illinois Public Media educational outreach director.

Many of the 722 Champaign fourth grade students who toured Illinois Public Media thought that the best part of their visit was getting to be history detectives while studying primary sources.

That was one part of the tour that was designed to supplement the students’ social studies curriculum. On the screen in WILL’s teleconference room, students saw an old photo, a report card, an essay and a newspaper clipping. Then, after making wild guesses and getting some helpful clues, they correctly discovered that all four primary sources were related to Molly, their host at WILL, from a time when she was a fourth grader, won an essay contest, and went canoeing with her brother.

Molly talked with students about primary sources and how they can be used in research. She showed them some of the primary sources that WILL-TV has used in making historical documentaries on Red Grange and Abraham Lincoln. The tours also included having students do mock interviews about what the students would want kids in the future to know about them and their school. The activity showed them how they themselves can be primary sources about their own lives.

Making puppets at the Youth Literature Festival

Fuzzy yarn, pipe cleaners and tiny plastic eyes were flying as hundreds of children sat at Illinois Public Media’s activity table at the Youth Literature Festival in October to create puppets from the Land of Make-Believe. Kids used socks, gloves, paper plates and paper bags as their creative backdrop and gave them personality with glue and a table full of add-ons.

It was our way of contributing a fun activity to the event sponsored by the University of Illinois College of Education, and introducing families to Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, the new PBS Kids show from the creators of Mister Rogers Neighborhood. Families were also able to watch episodes of the animated series.

Conversations with city and campus

During Focus: A Conversation with Two Mayors airing on WILL-TV and WILL-AM in February, Illinois Public Media News reporter Jim Meadows talked to Champaign Mayor Don Gerard and Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing about the past year and the year ahead for the Twin Cities.

In June, Focus host David Inge interviewed University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise on AM 580, and in October, Craig Cohen talked to U of I President Robert Easter, with the interview airing on both WILL-TV and WILL-AM.

In each case, viewers and listeners could call in with questions, giving them direct access to these newsmakers.

Election year debates and coverage

Illinois Public Media hosted two election-year debates, moderated by reporter Jim Meadows and co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Illinois, for the race in the new 13th Congressional District. Democrats David Gill and Matt Goetten went head-to-head before the primary, with a three-way debate between Gill, Republican Rodney Davis and Independent John Hartman just before the November general election. A U of I student journalist was on each of the panels that questioned the candidates, and political science and journalism students were part of the studio audiences for the debates.

Ahead of the elections, WILL hosted or attended community conversations to learn what issues were most important to voters. The Illinois Public Media News team focused on four key issues to voters: the economy, health care, education and the role of government. Reporters asked each of the candidates in the 13th Illinois Congressional District and 52nd Illinois State Senate races the same 12 questions covering those four major issues. Audio clips and transcripts of their responses were available to voters on our election website, along with Focus interviews with the candidates and news stories about those and other races.

News reporters concentrate on in-depth reporting

During the past year, Illinois Public Media’s news department shifted its focus from heavy spot news reporting to more in-depth reporting.

“In-depth news coverage is what sets public media apart,” said Craig Cohen, director of news and public affairs. “We can take the time to explore issues and tell stories in more detail, and reach out to more sources, than perhaps other media outlets can due to deadline or sponsor pressure. We committed to spending more time producing carefully crafted, contextual stories that explore the motivations and impacts of a variety of events, issues and ideas.”

Reporters provided comprehensive coverage of Congressman Tim Johnson’s unexpected retirement announcement, exploring not just why he announced his intention to retire, but why he waited until after he won the GOP primary.

Reporters also looked at the impact on our listeners of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act. They reached out in advance of the decision to local hospital groups, major regional employers, local health care providers, patient advocacy groups, lawmakers and politicians, providers for low income and uninsured patients, and university experts on public policy. Once the ruling was made public, their coverage considered a wide variety of angles in reporting the High Court’s decision and its impact.

A series of 14 stories on health and wellness, most by reporter Sean Powers, looked at nutrition education in the schools, efforts to fight obesity in immigrant communities and other issues. The reporting was supported by a grant by the Lumpkin Family Foundation. Sean also developed stories examining U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainee procedures and how they have led to tough decisions for local law enforcement regarding immigration. Jim Meadows examined stormwater utility fee proposals in Champaign and Urbana, and Jeff Bossert looked at the potential impact of a threatened prison closure on the community of Dwight, Ill.

These are just a few examples of this renewed commitment to an in-depth exploration of issues, ideas and events.

Andrea Seabrook offers blunt assessment of Congress

Illinois Public Media brought NPR congressional correspondent Andrea Seabrook to central Illinois for a two-day visit in April that included an appearance in a class at Urbana’s University Laboratory High School class, a talk at Campbell Hall that was open to the public, and an appearance on WILL-AM’s Focus.

A great storyteller, Seabrook, who has since left NPR to branch out on her own with a daily podcast about Congress, told students and the Campbell Hall audience that although the news media often like to focus on what lawmakers say and what happens each day on the floor, she likes to pay attention to what members of Congress don’t say. She talked about the noticeable dip in civility and bi-partisanship in Congress. “People ask me if this is the worst that it’s ever been,” she said. “But if no one’s beating anyone with a cane then it’s not the worst it’s ever been, although in some ways beating someone with a cane is more functional than nothing happening at all.”

Community Cinema: Viewing and discussing

Our monthly Community Cinema series continued to draw people interested in watching outstanding documentaries together and discussing the regional issues they raised. One highlight was the September film, Half the Sky, inspired by Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, the widely acclaimed book by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn about courageous individuals forging meaningful solutions in health care, education and economic empowerment for women and girls around the globe.

The audience watched a segment that addressed gender-based violence, and heard via Skype from University of Illinois graduate Molly Melching in Senegal. After spending time in Senegal as a U of I exchange student, Melching founded Tostan, a Senegal-based group dedicated to empowering African communities to bring about sustainable development and positive social transformation based on respect for human rights. Also on the panel were Jenny Allen of the Center for Women in Transition; Ann Sibley of Project IMPACT Plus, a central Illinois group that seeks to empower women economically; and representatives of the Tostan organization at Danville High School.

“It was inspiring to hear from someone with a U of I connection who is working on sustainable development in Africa, as well as from people working on economic empowerment closer to home,” said Henry Radcliffe, who heads up the project for Illinois Public Media.

WILL Connect programs examine housing needs and local foods

Illinois Public Media and CU-CitizenAccess.org took a comprehensive look at housing issues and at the growing movement to eat locally grown food during two days of special program on WILL-TV and WILL-AM.

During the day of programming on housing, WILL-AM’s morning talk program, Focus, highlighted public housing issues, and a live program, Housing: A Basic Human Need, on WILL-TV featured video stories about housing in the two counties and a roundtable discussion with local experts. The program, hosted by David Inge, featured stories on Generations of Hope in Rantoul, and a developer in Danville who turned the historic New Holland building into mixed income housing. Reporter Pam Dempsey of CU-CitizenAccess.org produced the program. CU-CitizenAccess is a community journalism project of the University of Illinois College of Media with professional and student journalists.

The local foods programming included C-U Digging into Local Food on WILL-TV, with a live studio-based discussion on local food production efforts and consumption of locally produced food in Champaign-Urbana. Video stories looked at Urbana’s Market at the Square, Champaign’s Randolph Street Community Garden, and efforts underway in Champaign-Urbana to start cooking classes teaching economical, healthy cooking.

Uni students look at counterculture in C-U

Students at Urbana’s University Laboratory High School interviewed Champaign-Urbana residents about the counterculture era from 1965-1975 for a radio documentary and series, Beyond the Tie-Dye, that aired on WILL-AM in September.

Students worked with Illinois Public Media’s Dave Dickey and Uni teacher Janet Morford to tell compelling stories of students arrested in protests, participating in classes when rocks began sailing through the windows, and manning crisis intervention centers for students experiencing the rapid social changes of the time. The programs also delved into how the counterculture movement spurred alternative business models in C-U and what lasting effects the counterculture movement had on participants.

20 years of gardening tips

Mid-American Gardener turned 20 this past year, celebrating by adding the anniversary designation to its leafy logo, and getting panelists together for cake. Host Dianne Noland and her rotating group of experts helped worried gardeners trying to deal with the drought by advising on issues like whether to water grass, how often to water plants and shrubs, and how to help trees survive.

“This dry summer really underscored the need for both mulch and collecting rain water,” said Dianne. “We suggested that people put a 3-inch layer of aged bark mulch around perennials, trees and shrubs to hold in moisture, and taper the mulch from the turf or sidewalk up to 3 inches and then back to an inch or less around perennial stems or tree trunks.”

Panelists also urged viewers to collect rain water in barrels or large buckets, covering the container with fine-mesh mosquito barrier. “Rain water was the only way I was able to keep some of my vegetables alive,” Dianne said. “It provides excellent chemical-free water for plants.”

Fun with a Downton Abbey sneak preview

Several hundred people turned out for our Downton Abbey Season 3 sneak preview event, getting an advance look at Shirley MacLaine’s character tangling with the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith). Some attendees got into the spirit by coming dressed in clothing from the time period of the Masterpiece series, and staff from the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts brought costumes that might have been worn by the characters in the drama.

New Faces

Bob Culkeen, formerly vice president of technology and operations at WJCT public radio and television in Jacksonville, Fla., joined the staff in January as station manager of WILL television and radio.

Craig Cohen, whom many listeners remembered from his stint as WILL-AM’s local Morning Edition host from 1995-2002, rejoined WILL in March as director of news and public affairs. He also became the interim host of WILL-AM’s morning talk program Focus after the retirement of David Inge. Craig most recently worked as director of programming and producer/host for WITF-FM and TV in Harrisburg, Pa.

Lisa Bralts, formerly the City of Urbana’s director of Market at the Square and economic development specialist, became Illinois Public Media marketing director in September. She’s also a commentator for WILL-AM with the In My Backyard series about the intersection of local food and neighborhoods.

John Steinbacher became Illinois Public Media membership director in October. John came to Illinois Public Media from the Champaign-based International Society of Arboriculture, a professional organization with 21,000 members worldwide where he was the membership and component relations manager.

Awards Telly Award Illinois Public Media producer Kimberlie Kranich and videographer/editor Henry Radcliffe won a Bronze Telly Award for their video story about a mobile food pantry that was part of our WILL Connect: Hunger initiative. The international Telly Awards competition annually showcases the best work of television stations, advertising agencies, production companies and cable operators.

Associated Press Awards Illinois Public Media news reporters and contributors won six awards in the downstate radio division of the 2011 Illinois Associated Press Broadcasters Association Journalism Excellence Contest, including best investigative series, best documentary series and best sports story.

Sean Powers and CU-CitizenAccess reporter Pam Dempsey won best investigative series for their reports on landlords at the Cherry Orchard apartment complex near Rantoul who stood trial for code violations. Sean also won for best sports report with his story about the Farmer City Raceway, won second place for best spot news for his account about the anonymous online posting of a police video showing the arrest of a man in the U of I’s campustown, and won second place in the hard news feature category for his story about how audio recording in public places can be a serious crime in Illinois.

The entire news team, including Sean, Jeff Bossert, Jim Meadows, Dave Dickey and former news and public affairs director Tom Rogers won best series/documentary for their Life on Route 150 series.

WILL-AM 580 commentator Lisa Bralts and her editor Dave Dickey won in the best light feature category for her commentary on “DIY Smokerpalooza.”

Communicator Awards

Illinois Public Media’s programming about community hunger won two Silver Awards of Distinction in the international 2012 Communicator Awards. A day of programming about hunger on WILL-TV, WILL-AM and the Web in November 2011 won the Integrated Campaign-Social Responsibility category. Illinois Public Media’s video about the Wesley Evening Food Pantry in Urbana won in the Program-News-Social Responsibility category. Kimberlie Kranich produced the video and Henry Radcliffe was videographer and editor.

Fiscal 2012 financial report Illinois Public Media experienced another stable financial year, with support from our members and local businesses remaining solid, even in an uncertain economic climate.

Among noticeable changes in the budget:

  • University of Illinois funding increased to pay for repairs to our AM transmitter tower system, including painting, replacement of tower guy wires, a new tower lighting system and new transmission lines. This was reflected in an increase in our expenditures for broadcasting.
  • The value of our endowments increased significantly from fiscal year 2011. While the economy was weak, resulting in less revenue as well as fewer revenue streams, the stock market was strong.
  • Local programming and production expenses decreased as external funding for projects was hard to find because of the soft economy. With a lean operating budget, we were not able to fund as many projects.

We ended the year with a slight operating surplus for carryover to the next fiscal year.

2012 2011

Operating revenues:

University Funding 2,165,034 1,691,618

Membership Contributions 2,140,394 2,229,971

Program Underwriting 355,110 411,001

State Grants 229,141 304,489

Other Grants 40,118

Community Service Grants

and Other Federal Grants 1,333,180 1,497,117

Other Income 105,442 90,431

Total Operating Revenues 6,368,419 6,224,627


Non-operating Revenues:

Indirect Support 2,417,705 1,967,260

Other 1,619,093 956,867


TOTAL REVENUES 10,405,217 9,148,754


Operating expenses:

Local Programming and Production 3,724,676 4,143,991

Broadcasting 1,671,702 1,120,617

Promotion and Development 2,474,032 2,355,624

Management and General 1,060,304 914,152

Other 521,038 564,451


TOTAL OPERATING EXPENSES 9,451,752 9,098,835


With appreciation 2011-2012 COMMUNITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Thanks to our Community Advisory Committee for their help during the past year in gathering information about community issues and needs, helping heighten community awareness of Illinois Public Media and the WILL stations and their services, advocating for broad-based support of WILL, and identifying and encouraging new sources of funding for specific projects.

Phyllis K. Dougherty, Danville, chair
Allan Penwell, Champaign, vice-chair
Kathy Munday, St. Joseph, secretary
John & Susan Adams, Atlanta
Constance Locher Bussard, Springfield
Belinda De La Rosa, Urbana
Jon Dietrich, Champaign
Joan Friedman, Urbana
Bert Gray, Decatur
Maxine Kaler, Champaign
Joe Lewis, Champaign
Jan Mandernach, Decatur
Geoff Merritt, Urbana
Gregory Ray, Mattoon
George Richards, Danville
Steve Rugg, Urbana
Barbara Shenk, Urbana
Patti Swinford, Decatur
Bob Swires, Danville
Maggie Unsworth, Urbana
Lori Williamson, Champaign


WILL thanks the underwriters who make our programs and outreach project possible. Each of these businesses contributed more than $5,000 during the past year.

  • AgriGold
  • Auditory Care Center
  • Busey Bank
  • Columbia Street Roastery
  • Common Ground Food Co-op
  • Community Blood Services of Illinois
  • Corkscrew Wine Emporium
  • C-U MTD
  • Farm Credit Services of Illinois
  • Friar Tuck Beverage
  • Heel to Toe
  • Illinois State Bar Association
  • Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
  • M2 on Neil
  • Meijer
  • Meyer Drapery Services, Inc.
  • PNC Wealth Management
  • Rental City
  • Subaru of Champaign
  • Supervalu
  • Tate & Lyle
  • The Music Shoppe
  • World Harvest Foods

2011-2012 GRANTS

  • Illinois Public Media PNC for Young Learners Initiative Book Mentor Project: $90,000 over three years Lumpkin Family Foundation for Health and Wellness Initiative: $20,000 over two years Corporation for Public Broadcasting for emergency generator as part of Warning, Alert and Response Network (WARN) project: $325,000
  • Women and Girls Lead Campaign for Community Cinema: $750
  • American Archive Content Inventory Project for creating a master inventory and database of surviving audio and video recordings produced by WILL since its founding in 1922: $80,251
  • Illinois Radio Reader Illinois State Library: $29,232


  • College of Education (PBS LearningMedia and Youth Literature Festival)
  • Department of Journalism in College of Media (CU-CitizenAccess)
  • Family Resiliency Center, U of I College of Medicine, U of I Extension (C-U Fit Families)
  • Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Department of Theatre, Division of Intercollegiate Athletics Hometown Heroes (Book Mentor Project)
  • National Soybean Research Laboratory (Health and Wellness Initiative)
  • Police Training Institute (Community Conversations)
  • School of Earth, Society, and Environment (Environmental Almanac)
  • WUIS, WSIU (13th Congressional District Debate, Education Reporting Initiative)