WILL - Focus - August 16, 2013

Personal Finance: Managing Your Credit

Today on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Kathy Sweedler, who teaches about personal finance for the University of Illinois Extension, about credit and how to manage it. We welcome your calls and questions!


(Duration: 51:39)

credit cards

The University of Illinois’ credit rating was downgraded this week raising lots of questions about the fiscal future and financial health of the university. Even though credit ratings for businesses and organizations operates much differently than credit scores do for the individual, many can relate to a being scored as a higher-risk borrower as we start recovering from the recession.

This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Kevin Waspi and Kathy Sweedler about credit scores, credit reports, the difference between the two, how to gauge your credit health and how to rebuild it if the outlook isn’t what you want it to be. We’ll also talk about the different kinds of credit cards, how to check your credit score, and what sorts of things count for and against you. And we’ll of course welcome your questions whether you are just starting out and looking for advice on investing, thinking about buying a home or planning for retirement.

*Kevin Waspi was unable to make it due to a last minute conflict. He'll be back with us for Personal Finance Day next month. 


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WILL - Focus - August 15, 2013

From the Ground Up

Do you grow vegetables in a garden or in pots around your home or apartment? If you do -why did you start? If you don’t, why not? This hour on Focus, Lisa Bralts talks with Jeanne Nolan, author of “From the Ground Up” about why she does and how she learned.


(Duration: 52:06)

Jeanne Nolan

Jeanne Nolan has run the Edible Gardens at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago for eight years. In addition to working with Green City Market, the organization which maintains the Edible Gardens, Jeanne runs a business helping people learn to plant and grow their own vegetable gardens. Getting to where she is today, however, was a long and winding road. This hour on Focus, guest host Lisa Bralts talks with Nolan about why she’s devoted her life to organic gardening and how she got to where she is today. We’ll talk with her about the time she spent learning about agriculture at a commune in California and will also talk with  her about the US’s urban farming movement and if it’s losing steam or still gaining momentum. During this hour on Focus, we’ll also dig a little deeper into the cost of the grow-your-own model and talk about Nolan’s “five food principles” when starting a backyard garden or urban farm.

Categories: Agriculture, Food

WILL - Focus - August 14, 2013

Encore: I Want My MTV

Did video kill the radio star? If so, it was with a lot of help from MTV. This hour on Focus, we’ll listen to a conversation Jeff Bossert had with Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum, authors of “I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution.”


(Duration: 49:28)

MTV logo

It's hard to remember that the initials MTV, now better known for reality programming, actually stand for "Music Television." In its first decade, MTV lived up to its name - it played music videos all day, the way a radio station played records. Though music videos had been played on television since the 1960s, MTV was the first outlet specifically programmed around music videos. We'll talk with Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum, authors of "I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution" about the tumultuous first decade of MTV and the videos that made the 1980s and early 1990s memorable.

Categories: Music
Tags: mtv, music

WILL - Focus - August 13, 2013

Grain Bin Entrapments

We’ve seen more grain bin entrapments and deaths this year than last year throughout the Midwest, and while many dread the next report of an incident, there’s an attitude that it’s “only a matter of time.” This hour on Focus, we’ll hear about what it’s like to be inside a grain bin…and what its like to survive being completely submerged under four feet of corn for more than four hours.


(Duration: 51:20)

grain silos

A few weeks ago on a farm outside a small north central Iowa town, Arick Baker was enveloped under 2 feet of grain in less than 10 seconds while working inside a silo. He was surrounded by 22,000 bushels of corn, exerting more than 400 pounds of pressure on most of his body. Unlike most who are caught in a grain bin entrapment, Baker survived. That makes him an extreme exception to the rule. This hour on Focus, we’ll hear from Baker about what it was like to be trapped in the corn. Rescuers estimate it was more than 100 degrees inside the bin while he was trapped; he walked away with little more than a few bruises and scrapes. 

Then, we’ll hear from professor of agriculture at Purdue University William Field about why these preventable farming accidents happen. He has been tracking these types of incidents since the mid 1970’s and will talk with us about why it’s hard to pin down exactly how many incidents happen each year and what’s being done to decrease the number of them. University of Illinois Extension Agriculture Broadcaster Todd Gleason, who used to play in grain bins growing up on the farm, will also be here to talk with us about farm culture, growing up around grain and why this is a problem that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention until the last few years.

Dave Wisher, who is a part of the Urbana Fire Department’s MABAS 28 Technical Rescue Team, joins us for the last portion of this hour’s Focus. MABAS 28 is a specialty team of firefighters trained to conduct search and rescue in confined spaces. Wisher was involved in efforts to rescue the Sidney, Illinois man who died in a grain entrapment earlier this summer.

Categories: Agriculture

WILL - Focus - August 12, 2013

Encore: Uncle Joe Cannon

Many consider Joesph Gurney Cannon one of the most dominant speakers of the House of Representatives in U.S. history. This hour on Focus, we’ll listen back to a conversation about his life and legacy.


(Duration: 51:33)

A painted mural of "Uncle Joe" Cannon on the side of a building in downtown Danville at the corner of Harrison and Vermilion streets depicts the Time Magazine cover he was featured on.

Uncle Joe Cannon served in the U.S. House of Representatives as speaker from 1903 to 1911 and is considered the second-longest serving speaker in history. He was featured on the first cover of Time Magazine and is remembered as one of the more colorful members of Congress.

This hour on Focus, we’ll remember Joe, his Illinois roots, and some of his more notorious moments as speaker in Washington D.C. Host Jim Meadows talks with Matt Wasnewski, a historian for the House of Representatives and Timothy Smith, an amateur historian and long-time Danville resident who is working on a biography about Joe.


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WILL - Focus - August 09, 2013

Pollinators in the Garden

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talked with horticulture expert Sandy Mason and University of Illinois Pollinatarium Director Lesley Deem. We welcome your lawn and garden questions today!


(Duration: 51:35)

We all know what kinds of insects we don’t want in our gardens… but how do you attract the ones you do want? This hour on Focus, Jim Meadows talks with University of Illinois Pollinatarium Director Lesley Deem about the ways to attract and maintain an active pollinator presence in your garden. She’ll tell us about how the shapes and colors of the plants you have can attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators. We’ll also hear about some of the upcoming workshops and events at the pollinatarium…and will find out what exactly the pollinatarium is. Sandy Mason, our resident gardening expert, will also be here to answer your lawn and garden questions.

WILL - Focus - August 08, 2013

Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing

The laboratory seems worlds away from the farm, but according to Dr. Daphne Miller, they’re more closely connected than you  might think. This hour on Focus, Lisa Bralts talks with Dr. Miller about her argument that farming can teach us a lot about health.


(Duration: 51:32)

Dr. Daphne Miller

A recipe for healthy soil is very much like a recipe for a healthy body. That’s according to author and family physician Dr. Daphne Miller. In her new book “Farmcology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing,” she argues that sustainable cattle ranching can teach us a lot of lessons about raising health kids and says that she can see connections between the way certain vineyards manage pests and how we treat and think about cancer. This hour on Focus, Lisa Bralts talks with Miller about her book and the farms she visited while writing and researching it. We’ll also hear about why she says drinking raw milk is having unprotected sex.

Do you see any parallels between farming and health? Let us know! Find us on Facebook or tweet us @Focus580.

You can read an excerpt of the book at the link below.

Categories: Agriculture, Health

WILL - Focus - August 07, 2013

Encore: The Art of Acting

Have you ever acted in a play? This hour on Focus, we’ll listen back to a conversation Jeff Bossert had with character actor Stephen Tobolowsky and Henson Keys about the art of acting.


(Duration: 49:41)

At some point, almost everyone dreams of being a movie star or being on stage and in the limelight… but without the actors and actresses in supporting roles, there would be no star of the show. This hour on Focus, we’ll listen back to a conversation Jeff Bossert had with Stephen Toboloswky and University of Illinois Acting Program Chair Henson Keys about the importance of the character actor and how supporting roles are sometimes even more challenging to play well than leading roles. We’ll also talk with Stephen about the moment he knew he was destined for a career as a character actor....when he started to lose his hair while he was studying at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Categories: Art and Culture, Cinema

WILL - Focus - August 06, 2013

Annie’s Project Turns 10

There are more women involved with the business of farming than ever before. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about “Annie’s Project,” a program designed by an Illinois woman in memory of her mother that works to empower female farmers.


(Duration: 51:24)

Annie Kohlhagen-Fleck was working as school teacher when she met her husband Frank in the mid-1940’s. He was a farmer, and she spent her life from the time they married in 1947 until her death in 2007 caring for milk cows and chickens and raising her four children. She learned about farming, money management and crop insurance through trial and error, what her daughter Ruth Hambleton calls “the hard way” not having grown up on a farm or having access to resources to help guide her through the complicated world of crop insurance and bookkeeping.

In 2003, Ruth founded Annie’s Project, in honor of her mother, to help women learn to manage farming operations alongside other women.

This hour on Focus, we’ll hear from Ruth about Annie’s story, the project and how it’s helped empower more women to become stakeholders in agriculture. Stephanie Butcher, who manages the business for her family’s 2200 acre grain operation in Mt. Auburn, Illinois, also joins our conversation. She says taking Annie’s Project classes have been invaluable in helping her get involved with farming and learning about agriculture marketing and business. She took over the books and the business side of running her family’s farm in 2008 with her husband after enrolling in an Annie’s Project class. Even though she grew up on a farm, she says she didn’t learn anything about the business aspect of farming.

Are you a female farmer? What appeals to you about the farming lifestyle? How did you learn about life on the farm? We’d love to hear from you this hour. Find us on Facebook or send us a tweet @Focus580.

Categories: Agriculture

WILL - Focus - August 05, 2013

Encore: Record Sales Continue to Climb in US, Illinois

“Vinyl sounds warmer….it’s about the experience….I like the crackle….” Do you enjoy listening to music on a turntable? This hour on Focus, we’ll listen back to a conversation about music in the 21st century and if vinyl’s “comeback” really means anything to the future of the music industry.


(Duration: 51:35)

Vinyl record album covers standing in a row

According to Nielsen Soundscan, a company that tracks the sale of music in the US, vinyl sales are up by more than 30% over this time last year; more than two million vinyl albums have sold in 2013. Nielsen says their data shows that vinyl sales started climbing in 2007 and have kept on going ever since. Interesting considering music hasn’t been released solely on vinyl albums for decades... This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about the resurgence of records and record stores and will talk about what makes old-fashioned records so appealing in an era largely defined by digital culture.

Greg Kot, music critic for the Chicago Tribune and co-host of the podcast “Sound Opinions,” Jenn Pelly of Pitchfork and Jeff Brandt, the owner of Exile on Main Street in Champaign join us. Maybe you didn’t grow up in the vinyl era but still enjoy listening to albums. What is the appeal?

Categories: Music

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