WILL - Focus - September 30, 2013

Pages From the Past: Stories from the Sunday Pantagraph

What do Adlai Stevenson, the Underground railroad, the Orphan Train movement and the old-time radio program Vic and Sade have in common?


(Duration: 51:38)

Bill Kemp

Bill Kemp recently penned his 400th article for the Pantagraph newspaper based in Bloomington-Normal. He’s been writing about history for nearly a decade and says even though we’re in a pretty rural part of the Midwest, he’s never been at a loss for an interesting tale to describe in his history column.

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with him about his book “Pages from the Past: Stories from the Sunday Pantagraph.”  We’ll learn more about Adlai Stevenson II, former Governor and 1950’s democratic Presidential candidate, and we’ll talk with Kemp about his accounts of myths surrounding the Underground railroad in Central Illinois and the Orphan Train movement.

Categories: History

WILL - Focus - September 27, 2013

Author Kim Stanley Robinson on what captivates him about science fiction

Are you a science fiction fan? Today on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with New York Times best-selling author Kim Stanley Robinson.


(Duration: 55:01)

Robinson in August 2005, at the 63rd World Science Fiction Convention in Glasgow, United Kingdom.

Kim Stanley Robinson’s interest in science fiction all started with an orange grove. When he was young, he says he watched southern California suffer what he calls “future shock,” – a process by which the natural landscape was rapidly replaced with apartment buildings and roads. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Robinson about how this inspires his writing.

We’ll also talk with Robinson about his Mars Trilogy that depicts a society where people have colonized Mars to escape overpopulation and ecological disaster on Earth. We’ll hear how he imagined life on Mars and how he deals with questions of plausibility as he writes about future time.

WILL - Focus - September 26, 2013

Illinois Politics Roundtable

Are Illinois lawmakers making progress on pension reform? Why do all the lively races for statewide office next year only involve republicans?


(Duration: 51:30)

The Champaign County Republican Party’s annual Fall Festival included a straw poll for each of the candidates seeking the GOP nomination for governor of Illinois.

Candidates for state office in next year’s elections have announced their candidacy and are starting to campaign. But looking ahead to the primary elections, all the lively races are between Republicans. What does that say about the state of Illinois and what does that mean looking forward to the election season? This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks politics with Amanda Vinicky of Illinois Public Radio, Bernard Schoenburg of the Springfield State Journal Register and David Yepsen, Director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at the Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

Categories: Politics

WILL - Focus - September 25, 2013

Agri-Tourism a Boon for Central Illinois Farms

Have you been to a pick your own apple orchard or tried to solve a corn maze at a local orchard or farm? Why did you go, and would you go back? What did you like or dislike about visiting? This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about farms as tourist destinations.


(Duration: 51:33)

visitors at Curtis Orchard

With their corn mazes, farms like Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch and Curtis Orchard draw thousands of visitors each year. But Curtis Orchard wasn’t always an orchard and Mark and Julie Hardy’s reindeer ranch wasn’t always a place you could visit. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Randy Graham of Curtis Orchard and Mark Hardy of Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch about why they wanted to be able to invite people to visit their farms. We’ll also talk with them about how they build and plan for their corn mazes, one of their biggest draws this time of year.

Categories: Agriculture, Community, Travel

WILL - Focus - September 24, 2013

Richard Louv talks about “nature deficit disorder”

“The more high tech we become, the more nature we need?” Do you agree?


(Duration: 51:45)

Richard Louv

Patients who can see outside from a hospital room often heal faster than those who can't, and even a little exposure to the natural world has been shown to decrease symptoms of ADD. If we all spent a little more time outside, what other benefits might we see? And, can you really credit those benefits solely to spending more time outside?

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with author and journalist Richard Louv about what he calls “the nature principle.” Louv argues many of us are plagued by “nature-deficit disorder,” but says there are seven basic concepts that can help. We'll talk with Louv this hour about nature deficit disorder, why he says its so problematic and what we can do about it.

Categories: Environment

WILL - Focus - September 23, 2013

Designing Culture

Technology is constantly changing the way we organize everything. Despite the pace of change, we’re still in control. This hour on Focus, Jim Meadows talks with Anne Balsamo about the ways she says it’s possible for us to design the culture we want through the way we use the technologies we create.


(Duration: 51:32)

Anne Balsamo

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Professor Anne Balsamo. She’s a media designer by trade and has been involved in creating several interactive exhibits, like a digital version of the AIDS Memorial Quilt that you can explore by quilt block, name and date. She says in order for us to live in the world we want, we need to keep that world in mind while we’re designing and using our technologies. We’ll talk with her this hour about what interactive media is and if its constructive or just another distraction.

Balsamo is also heading a project called “FemTechNet,” which among other things, has been responsible for adding women into some of Wikipedia's historical entries. We'll also talk with her about how "FemTechNet" is working to create new kinds of learning opportunities though online collaborative education and about how her femisist views mesh with her work arguments about technologies. 

Anne is giving a talk entitled “Designing Digital Memories” at 7:00 p.m. tonight in the Library and Information Science Building at 501 East Daniel Street in Champaign.

WILL - Focus - September 20, 2013

Personal Finance

Today on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Kevin Waspi, a chartered financial analyst and Jake Kuebler, a certified financial planner with Bluestem Financial Advisors in Champaign. We welcome your calls and questions!


(Duration: 51:37)

a dollar with some cents

The Dow Jones industrial average hit a record high Wednesday after a decision by the Federal Reserve to keep its economic stimulus in place. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with personal finance experts Kevin Waspi and Jake Kuebler about what the means for your pocketbook. We’ll also talk about whether or not investing in bond is a good idea with interest rates on the rise. As always, we welcome your personal finance questions whether you’re planning for retirement, just starting out and looking at buying a home or trying to figure out how to manage your budget.

Categories: Personal Finance

WILL - Focus - September 19, 2013

George Harrison’s First Trip to America…was to Benton, Illinois

Before the Beatlemania that started in the US in early 1964, a member of the band visited the states, played a few sets with a band in Benton, Illinois and was interviewed by a young radio broadcaster named Marcia.


(Duration: 51:26)

A photo of the Beatles George gave Marcia back in the 1960's. He autographed the back "Love from George Harrison."

When she was 17 years old, Marcia Raubach got a phone call to come into the station where she hosted a weekend morning teen music show because there was a musician there who wanted to personally thank her for being one of the first to play his band’s record on the radio in America. That musician was none other than the late George Harrison, and 50 years later, when she looks back on it, Raubach kicks herself for not recording the interview she did with Harrison on WFRX in West Frankfort, Illinois in the fall of 1963.

It was the first interview with a member of the band that aired on American radio, and this hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Marcia about what she asked Harrison all those years ago. We’ll talk with her about meeting him and how the interview has remained a part of her life ever since.

We’ll also talk with Jim Kirkpatrick, author of the book “Before He Was Fab,” a book about Harrison’s visit to Illinois in 1963 and Bob Bartel, a Beatles memorabilia collector and the man responsible for the “Beatles house” in Benton, where George stayed when he first visited, being named an Illinois historical landmark.

Categories: Music

WILL - Focus - September 18, 2013

Private Re-homing

When you can’t take care of a dog or a cat, it seems perfectly reasonable to go online to try and find them a new home. But would you ever even think to do that with a child?


(Duration: 51:46)

Nicole Eason, who adopted several children through "private re-homing," even though she had her two biological children taken by social services.

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with reporter Megan Twohey about her series “The Child Exchange,” published last week by Reuters. In it, Twohey investigates what’s called “private re-homing,” a process by which an adoptive family hands a child over into another adult’s care without involving adoption officials or government agencies.

WILL - Focus - September 17, 2013

Concealed Carry for the Blind or Visually Impaired?

As the state drafts its criteria for who can obtain a concealed carry permit, should vision be a consideration?


(Duration: 51:20)

two people with guns

It violates the American with Disabilities Act to discriminate against the visually impaired, even when it comes to gun ownership. The state of Illinois issues FOID cards, the documentation you need to legally own a gun in Illinois, and hunting licenses to the blind. So, even if you can’t see, or don’t see well, you can own a gun in Illinois, but should you be able to carry it in public?

Categories: Civil Rights, Law

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