WILL - Focus - August 30, 2013

The Best Things You Can Eat: School Lunches and Gluten Free Labeling

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with David Grotto, a registered dietician, about the best things you can eat. We welcome your calls and questions today!


(Duration: 51:35)

fruits and vegetables

The Food and Drug Administration recently released official guidelines for what it means for food to be “gluten free.” This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with David Grotto about what gluten actually does in our bodies and about the pros and cons of going on a gluten free diet. According to Grotto, going gluten free isn’t the right choice for everyone and isn’t always healthier.

With school back in session, we’ll also talk about school lunches. He’ll talk with us about how nutrition affects kids’ focus in school and what foods athlete’s should be consuming during this fall’s sports season. We’ll also ask him about “bento boxes,” which are popular in Japan and growing in popularity in the United States, as an alternative to the traditional brown-bag school lunches.

Categories: Health

WILL - Focus - August 29, 2013

Indian Accents

Why do racial stereotypes change over time? How do they develop? According to author Shilpa Dave, the movies play a huge role. This hour on Focus, Jeff Bossert talks with her about her new book “Indian Accents: Brown Voice and Racial Performance in American Television and Film.”


(Duration: 51:54)

An scene from the film "Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay"

Growing up in Madison, Wisconsin, Shilpa Dave loved going to the movies. Her father was a self-proclaimed film “buff,” and Dave loved every minute of it. Her parents immigrated to the US from India before she was born, and as she grew older, she started to wonder why there were no people who looked like her in the movies she went to see with her father. This hour on Focus, Jeff Bossert talks with American Studies Professor and author Shilpa Dave about her new book “Indian Accents” recently published by the University of Illinois Press. In it, she examines Indian culture and its portrayal in American popular film. We’ll talk about why there were very few prominent Indian or South East Asian characters until the late 1990’s and the affect Bollywood’s growing success is having on casting in Hollywood films. 

During this episode of Focus, we’ll hear about an MTV cartoon that caused a hunger strike in New Dehli and forced the network to release a formal apology because of its animated depiction of Gandhi and will talk about “Raj,” the popular character from “The Big Bang Theory” and Apu, the Indian convenience store owner from “The Simpsons.”

Categories: Cinema, Race/Ethnicity

WILL - Focus - August 28, 2013

Encore: All the Babe’s Men

HOME RUN! We’ve all heard it announced over a loud speaker at a baseball game or are familiar with the phrase from popular culture, but hitting a home run wasn’t always so common in baseball. This hour on Focus, Jeff Bossert talks with author Eldon Ham about the history of the homerun and his book “All the Babe’s Men.”


(Duration: 51:18)

Babe Ruth

“It’s a home run,” has become an expression many Americans use every day to describe success, even outside the world of baseball. But, have you ever wondered why? This hour on Focus, we’ll listen back to a conversation Jeff Bossert had with  Eldon Ham about America’s obsession with the home run and what sparked the development of the long ball in baseball. Ham tells us about how the home run became a fixture in the MLB by accident, and we’ll remember Babe Ruth’s historic sixty-homer season in 1927.

With several big hitters in the MLB being accused recently of more steroid use, we’ll also talk with Ham about how the homerun is connected to what he argues is an “inevitable” era of professional doping.


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WILL - Focus - August 27, 2013

Encore: Reading with Pictures

Do you love comics? Have you ever learned anything from them? Today on Focus, we’ll listen back to a conversation how comics can help kids learn.


(Duration: 51:30)

Reading with Pictures cartoon saying "Comics Out Loud."

University of Illinois Assistant Professor Carol Tilley has always felt strongly that kids need comics. And she’s not the only one. This hour on Focus, we’ll listen back to a conversation with Tilley about how comics played a huge role in her childhood and why she thinks it’s so upsetting that they are less widely available and more expensive than they once were. Award-winning graphic novelist and nationally syndicated cartoonist Josh Elder also joins us. He’s creating a new series of graphic textbooks for elementary and middle school teachers. We’ll talk with him and Tilley about what sets comics apart and why they’re useful in the classroom.

Do you love comics? Have you ever learned anything from them? Maybe you oppose the idea of teaching comic books… Tell us your story!

WILL - Focus - August 26, 2013

Remembering the March on Washington

50 years ago this week, hundreds of thousands descended upon Washington D.C. for one of the largest protest marches of the civil rights movement. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Champaign-Urbana native Bill Smith about what it was like to be there. We’ll also talk with Sundiata Cha-Jua about the march’s historical significance.


(Duration: 51:29)

In 1963 when he made the trip from Champaign to Washington D.C., Bill Smith was 21. As an active member of the NAACP chapter at the University of Illinois, he says he remembers feeling awed and inspired by the sheer number of other people who were gathered at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Even as a high school student at Champaign Central, he says he was involved with bringing the blacks and whites together. But it was when he returned from the march that he says he was motivated to really become an agent for change.

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Smith about his experience at 1963 March on Washington; his relationship with his long-time mentor Erma Bridgewater, and about the racial climate during the 1960’s in east central Illinois. 

We’re also joined by Sundiata Cha-Jua, an Associate Professor of History and African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign about the significance of the march in the context of the larger movement and about Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Did you know someone who marched in a protest during the 1960’s? Did you? What was it like to be a part of one? We want to hear from you this hour on Focus!

Categories: Civil Rights, History

WILL - Focus - August 23, 2013

Falls Bugs and Caring for Fruit Trees

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with horticulture expert Sandy Mason and entomologist Phil Nixon. We welcome your lawn and garden care questions today!


(Duration: 51:12)

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with University of Illinois Extension entomologist Phil Nixon about the best ways to deal with fall nuisance bugs that start showing up around the house and in the garden. Sandy Mason, our resident gardening expert, will also be here. As fruit trees start bearing apples, pears and peaches, we’ll talk with her about how to properly care for fruit trees and how to get the best yield from yours. We welcome your lawn and garden care questions this hour on Focus!

WILL - Focus - August 22, 2013

Steve Shoemaker and “Zealot”

Steve Shoemaker has been hosting WILL’s religion call-in program “Keepin’ the Faith” for more than a decade. The program’s last episode will air Sunday. Today on Focus, Jim Meadows talks with Shoemaker about the show, how it got started and what kept him going. Then in the second half of the hour, we’ll hear from Reza Aslan, author of the new book “Zealot.”


(Duration: 51:32)

WILL's Keepin' the Faith host Steve Shoemaker

Since 1999, Steve Shoemaker has been hosting and producing WILL’s weekend religion call-in talk show “Keepin’ the Faith.” At the time he pitched the idea for the show, very few media outlets dealt with issues of religion. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Shoemaker about the show, why he started it and how media coverage of religion changed after 9/11. We’ll also talk with Shoemaker about his favorite Keepin’ the Faith episodes and how he managed to host and produce the show as a side project while working full time.

Then during the second half of the hour, we’ll talk with Reza Aslan, author of the controversial new book about the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth. In his book, “Zealot,” Aslan attempts to paint a truly historical picture of Jesus. We’ll talk with him about what we know about Jesus’ life independent from the gospels…..and what we don’t. Meadows also talk with him about his own faith and why he says it’s not a good idea to read the bible as literal text.

Categories: Religion

WILL - Focus - August 21, 2013

Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep

We spend nearly a third of our lives asleep…but have you ever wondered why? Interestingly enough, despite years and billions of dollars in research, even leading sleep scientists still can’t answer that question. This hour on Focus, Lindsey Moon talks with David Randall, author of the book “Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep.”


(Duration: 51:32)

book cover

Studies of the brain and its processes are often full of more questions than they are answers, but one such question started to nag at David Randall after he sleep walked into a wall. “Why do we sleep?”

This hour on Focus, Lindsey Moon talks with Randall about his book “Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep,” which is now out in paperback. We’ll hear about why many of the sleep disorders we classify as problems today weren’t anything to be worried about before the invention of the light bulb, why it’s so hard to pin down the biologic reason for why the human brain needs sleep and will talk about the real reason it’s so hard to drag teenagers from bed before 10 a.m. We’ll also talk about what’s being called sleep crime, cases where sleepwalkers have committed murder while dreaming.

Randall is a senior reporter at Reuters and an adjunct professor at New York University. He’s also been published in the New York Times, New York Magazine and Forbes. Dreamland is his first book.


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WILL - Focus - August 20, 2013

The Science Delusion

Why is there something instead of nothing? What is our purpose on earth? Depending on which camp you’re in – science or religion, you’ll have a much different answer to these questions. But when did that dictomy develop and why do they have to be at odds with each other? This hour on Focus, Jack Brighton talks with Curtis White about his new book “The Science Delusion.”


(Duration: 51:42)

Curtis White

Illinois State University English Professor Emeritus Curtis White has spent much of his career writing fiction, but he’s recently released his newest book “The Science Delusion,” a non-fiction work devoted to investigating the way we think about the intersection between science and religion. This hour on Focus, Jack Brighton talks with White about what the two camps can learn from each other. Can science resolve our questions about the origins of the universe, the basis of morality and the source of creativity? Is it wrong to say science can’t?

This hour on Focus, we also talk about “scientism,” atheism, and religion’s influence on scientific research. Do you have faith in the unseen? Or do you have to see it to believe it? We want to hear from you this hour! Tweet us @Focus580 or find the show on Facebook.

White is also author of the book “Memories of My Father Watching TV and Requiem. His Book, “The Middle Mind: Why American Don’t Think for Themselves” was an international best-seller and his essays have appeared in Harper’s Magazine, Orion and Playboy.

WILL - Focus - August 19, 2013

Encore: The Humanity Project

How do you define human decency? Can you comfort the miserable; is that even possible? This hour on Focus, we’ll listen back to a conversation Jim Meadows had with New York Times Best-Selling author Jean Thompson about her new book “The Humanity Project.”


(Duration: 50:41)

The Humanity Project book cover

In her new book 'The Humanity Project,” Urbana based author Jean Thompson confronts circumstances and questions plaguing many in the US in a post-recession era. This hour on Focus, we’ll listen back to a conversation Jim Meadows had with Thompson about her new novel, what inspired the story and why it was a story we wanted to tell.

This hour we'll meet Sean, a wayward carpenter whose bad luck turns even worse; Linnea, who has survived a school shooting and is living in California with a father she barely knows, and Mrs. Foster, a wealthy cat lady who starts "the Humanity Project" to help out a few whose luck has run out.

Categories: Books and Reading

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