WILL - Focus - October 17, 2013

Tatyana McFadden and IntelliWheels Marissa Siebel and Josh George on engineering a better wheelchair

This hour, we hear from University of Illinois wheelchair athlete Tatyana McFadden about her Chicago Marathon win this past weekend. Jim Meadows also talks with IntelliWheels’ Marissa Siebel and Josh George, who took third place in the men’s wheelchair division of the Chicago Marathon, about their Champaign based company that makes geared wheelchair wheels.


(Duration: 47:45)

Tatyana McFadden as she wins the Chicago Marathon

Sunday, Tatyana McFadden won the Chicago Marathon breaking a course record and becoming the first wheelchair athlete to win three major marathons in a year. In less than three weeks, McFadden will compete for a fourth title at the ING New York City Marathon. During this hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Tatyana about why she’s fond of marathons, how she’s preparing for her upcoming race in New York and where she keeps her race medals. McFadden was born in Russia and spent the first 6 years of her life walking on her hands in an orphanage. During this interview, we also hear from her about how that has contributed to the upper-body strength vital to her racing success.

Then in the second half of the program, Meadows talks with IntelliWheels’ Marissa Siebel and Josh George about mobility and innovation. Currently, the company makes geared wheelchair wheels that make it easier for people with less upper body strength to get around, but recently they have been working on prototypes for more active users. George, who took third place this past weekend in the men’s wheelchair division of the Chicago Marathon, is an athlete in residence for IntelliWheels and will test them when they’re ready.

Categories: Disabilities, Sports

WILL - Focus - October 16, 2013

Politics Roundtable and Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin on the upcoming veto session

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks politics with Illinois Public Radio’s Amanda Vinicky and the News-Gazette’s Tom Kacich. Then, we’ll hear from Illinois’ new House Minority Leader, Representative Jim Durkin.

Illinois Rep. Jim Durkin, R-Countryside, testifies during a legislative committee hearing on ethics reform at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Tuesday, Mar. 10, 2009. Jim Durkin told the ethics committee that lawmakers should take a c

It’s starting to show that Governor Pat Quinn is up for reelection next fall. He’s answering more reporter questions and is making it seem like he's serious about sorting out the state's pension issues. Have lawmakers made any progress? In preview of next week's veto session in the Illinois legislature, host Jim Meadows talks with political reporters Amanda Vinicky of Illinois Public Radio and Tom Kacich of the News-Gazette about Governor Quinn’s focus on the pension problem. We'll also talk with Kacich about the status of the farm bill and how current negotiations regarding the government shutdown and the debt ceiling affect political debate and discussion in Illinois.

Then, Meadows talks with Representative Jim Durkin, new Minority Leader for the Illinois House of Representatives about the Republican agenda for the upcoming legislative session. 

Categories: Politics

WILL - Focus - October 15, 2013

When to Grant Clemency?

Friday, Governor Pat Quinn granted 65 clemency requests while working through a backlog of cases left by Fmr. Gov. Rod Blagojevich. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about why and when clemency requests are granted.


(Duration: 51:31)

courtroom gavel and scales

So far in his time as Governor, Pat Quinn has granted nearly 1,000 clemency requests, reducing penalties for people convicted of certain crimes. In the batch he approved Friday, Southern Illinois University Former Board of Trustee Member Enoch Benson, former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Branden Jones, an armed robber and several former drug dealers were among those pardoned.

This hour on Focus, we’ll hear from Urbana Attorney and University of Illinois Law Lecturer Steve Beckett about what’s taken into consideration when deciding to either approve or deny a clemency request and who applies for it. Host Jim Meadows also talks with Beckett about the reasons someone would request clemency, why the Governor has the power to grant it and why it’s an issue that Fmr. Gov. Rod Blagojevich left so many cases sitting.

WILL - Focus - October 14, 2013

May Berenbaum on entomophagy and giant hornets

Have you ever eaten an insect? Would you consider making them a regular part of your diet?


(Duration: 52:00)

May Berenbaum with an insect

Every year in one of the graduate classes she teaches, University of Illinois entomologist May Berenbaum hosts a meal … prepared from a variety of different insects. She says the giant waterbugs have been very popular in the past.

But aside from eating an insect to try it, would you ever consider consuming insects for their protein as a regular part of your diet? This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Berenbaum about entomophagy and if it will ever catch on in the United States. We’ll also hear about giant hornets, that can grow to be larger than your thumb, that have killed more than 40 people and injured more than 1,000 in recent months in An Kang, China.

Categories: Animals, Food

WILL - Focus - October 11, 2013

Parenting a Transgender Child

Raising kids is already a challenge, so what do you when your kids express that they are uncomfortable in their own skin?


(Duration: 51:37)

Micah, left, Asher, Daniel and Sara pose for a family photo while on summer vacation.

When Sara and Micah’s oldest daughter Naima showed resistance to wearing dresses and playing typical “girl” games, they thought she was a tomboy who someday could be a lesbian. Then one day Naima told Sara she shouldn’t keep correcting people when they confused Naima for a boy.

Categories: Gender issues

WILL - Focus - October 10, 2013

Fall Reading Recommendations

What’s the best book you’ve read lately? Or do you have a few titles you love and always recommend to other readers looking for their next book? We’d love to hear from you this hour on Focus!


(Duration: 51:20)

books on a shelf

Mary Beth Neebel left her job in the corporate world to start a small, independent bookstore in May 2006, and she’s never looked back. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Neebel about her store’s local author book signing series. She invites authors who write about central Illinois or are from this part of the state to do readings at “I Know You Like A Book,” her store based in Peoria Heights, Illinois. We’ll find out about some exciting titles that are new this fall. Kelly Strom, collections manager at the Champaign Public Library, also joins us. She’s got a long list of new titles out this fall that she’s excited to tell us about and has a few recommendations for readers of any age.

Continue reading for a book list!

Categories: Books and Reading

WILL - Focus - October 09, 2013

Concussions and High School Athletes

The problems concussions can cause athletes long term is a hot button issue right now in the world of professional sports… but what are high schools doing to keep their athletes safe?


(Duration: 51:05)

The Monticello High School football team practices in pre-season training in August.

The long term effects of multiple concussions in NFL football players has been increasingly reported by the media, especially after a $765 million settlement between the NFL and its former players this summer. But concussions have serious risks at all level of play.

Categories: Sports

WILL - Focus - October 08, 2013

Commemorating the 175th “Trail of Death”

Can you imagine walking more than 600 miles at gunpoint?


(Duration: 51:52)

Between September 4 and November 4 in 1838, around 850 members of the Potawatomi nation from Indiana were forced to walk more than 650 miles though Illinois and Missouri when they were forced to relocate to Kansas by the government. More than 40 people died during the journey, most of them were children. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Sister Virginia Pearl, whose great-grandmother was one of the few children to survive what Virginia’s mother described to her as “the long walk” when she was a girl. Pearl is one of a group of people who recently returned from a pilgrimage from Indiana to Kansas, traveling along the same route her ancestors did. The caravan came through East Central Illinois stopping to observe historical markers near Danville, Monticello and Decatur.


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WILL - Focus - October 07, 2013

Talking With Our Hands

We’ve all been accused of talking with our hands, and if mostly everyone does, wouldn’t you think it would play an important role in communication?


(Duration: 51:16)

Susan Goldin-Meadow

Do you talk with your hands? Have you ever wondered why? This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Susan Goldin-Meadow about how gestures play a role in our language. We’ll talk with her about why some gestures are the same from culture to culture and why some vary so much. Meadows also talks with her about how gestures play a role in learning language. According to Goldin-Meadow, deaf children with hearing parents will develop their own gesturing system to communicate, and many children’s signs are the same even though they’ve never met.

WILL - Focus - October 04, 2013

Gardening: Fall Foliage

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talked with horticulture expert Sandy Mason and Urbana City arborist Mike Brunk. We welcome your lawn and garden calls and questions today! 


(Duration: 51:37)

Fall is officially here; leaves are starting to change color from green to bright yellows, oranges and reds, in perfect time for Mike Brunk, city arborist for Urbana to join us on Focus to talk about why fall foliage is brighter some years than others. He says he expects this year to be a good year to observe the changing of the seasons. Host Jim Meadows talks with Brunk about why deciduous trees lose their leaves in the fall and will give us an update on how the effects of the emerald ash borer in our area. And of course, Sandy Mason, our resident gardening expert, will also be here today to answer your lawn and garden questions. 

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