WILL - Focus - December 18, 2013

In Meat We Trust: An Unexpected History of Carnivore America

In her new book “In Meat We Trust,” author Maureen Ogle argues the meat industry has evolved into what it is today because that’s what consumers asked for.


(Duration: 51:44)

When it comes to the meat industry, there is no shortage of opinion about whether large meat producers and packers are good or bad, but how and why did meat production become so controversial? How did we arrive at the production model we use today?

Author Maureen Ogle says that early in American history eating meat was a symbol of status and that consumers demanded low cost meat for their families. That, in addition to industrialization and the move of many Americans from rural areas to cities, is all a part of the very complex history of meat production in America. This hour on Focus, Ogle talks about her new book “In Meat We Trust,” with host Jim Meadows. She’ll tell us more about why most of the meat we consume comes from a large factory farm rather than from a small family owned farm and about why Americans eat so much chicken.

Categories: Agriculture, Food

WILL - Focus - December 16, 2013

Preventing a meningitis outbreak

Last week, a meningitis vaccine that is unapproved by the FDA was made available to Princeton students in an effort to stop an outbreak of the disease from getting worse. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about why the outbreak prompted such concern and why college students are most commonly affected by meningitis.


(Duration: 51:57)

 Renee Galloway, a microbiologist in the Centers for Disease Control’s Meningitis and Special Pathogens Branch (MSPB), in the National Center for Infectious Diseases (NCID), was shown here running a Pulsed-field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) analy

Meningitis infections are considered medical emergencies because many are life threatening. Dr. Tom Clark, who heads meningitis prevention and surveillance at the Centers for Disease Control, was on campus at Princeton University last week when university officials started administering a vaccine for meningitis b that’s not normally available in the US. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with him about the disease and why 8 confirmed cases of the disease prompted officials had to bring a non-FDA approved vaccine to the states.

During this hour on Focus, Brandon Meline of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District also joins the show. A new Illinois law will make meningitis vaccination mandatory for 6th and 12th grade students starting January 1st of next year.

Categories: Health, Public Health

WILL - Focus - December 13, 2013

Raising the perfect tree

Many of us only think about Christmas trees and Christmas tree farms around the holiday season, but for some, it’s a year-round business. 


(Duration: 51:10)

Gary Chastagner, who has been working for more than two decades to determine which varieties of trees are the best at keeping their needles, says that for him, Christmas trees are more about business than they are about tradition or holiday sentimentality. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Chastagner, a plant pathologist and professor at Washington State University, about the research that goes into helping tree farmers know what they need to know to the kinds of trees that consumers demand.

Then, during the second half of this hour on Focus, we’ll hear from Ron Evans, a second generation Christmas tree farmer based in Decatur, Ill., about caring for and raising his trees. He operates farms in Illinois and in Wisconsin and says running a Christmas tree farm is more complicated than it seems. 

Categories: Agriculture, Business

WILL - Focus - December 12, 2013

Winter Book Recommendations

What’s the best book you’ve read this winter? If someone asked you for a book recommendation for a holiday gift, what would you recommend?


(Duration: 51:60)

books on a shelf

This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about the best books to cozy up with inside as the cold marches on outside. Amber Castens and Elaine Bearden of the Urbana Free Library join host Jim Meadows and offer up a few holiday favorites, as well as a few new books out this year.

Read more to find a book list from today's show!

Categories: Books and Reading

WILL - Focus - December 11, 2013

What’s Ahead for South Africa

Nobody can replace Nelson Mandela in the hearts of his people; his place in history will not soon be forgotten. South Africa as a nation, however, will continue to exist without him. This hour on Focus, we’ll discuss his legacy and what’s ahead for the country now that he’s gone.


(Duration: 51:40)

Nelson Mandela in 2008

Ken Salo grew up in Cape Town, South Africa and compares living in apartheid era South Africa to what he imagines it would have been like to live in the Jim Crowe era South in the United States. He attended a segregated university there and says what you could do and where you could go was dictated by whether or not you were black, white or colored.

This hour on Focus, we’ll hear from Salo about the racial issues that Nelson Mandela spent his life and career confronting and what it was like to be confronted with them as a young man in daily life. Host Jim Meadows also talks with Teresa Barnes, who lived in South Africa for 25 years and studies the country’s political and social history.

Categories: Politics, Race/Ethnicity

WILL - Focus - December 10, 2013

Speaking military slang

Have you ever been a part of a conversation that you didn’t quite understand because you were unfamiliar with some of the vocabulary?


(Duration: 51:53)

Eric (pictured on the far right) with friends in Kuwait in 2006 shortly before going to Iraq.

Eric Swenson says that when he first enlisted in the US Army, there were several occasions when superior officers would correct his word usage. He gun was a “weapon,” not a firearm, and if something was gone, it wasn’t out, it was “black.” Swenson says that learning to use this sort of lingo was a rite of passage when he first went through basic training, but now that he’s a veteran living stateside, it was just as much of a process to stop speaking military as it was to start.

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Swenson and dictionary editor and co-host of public radio’s “A Way with Words,” Grant Barrett about how slang and jargon are vital communication tools even though they work to alienate or include certain groups of people. We’ll learn more about certain words and phrases that are now commonplace in American speech that are relics of military culture, and Swenson will tell us more about some new military slang that’s developed as a product of US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Are you from a military family? Are there words from the military that were used in everyday speech? We’d love to hear from you this hour on Focus!

WILL - Focus - December 09, 2013

Winter Meteorology

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with former WILL meteorologist Ed Kieser about winter weather and the recent tornado outbreak. We welcome your calls and questions!


(Duration: 51:31)

Astrological winter hasn’t made its debut yet, but meteorological winter is here. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with WILL's former meteorologist, Ed Kieser, about the recent weather anomalies we have experienced in the area and how everyone can best prepare for the winter weather. Meadows will also talk to Kieser about the tornadoes that took place in the area last month and what circumstances contributed to that weather event occurring.

WILL - Focus - December 06, 2013

Encore: A conversation with Frank Tavares, the former “Voice of NPR”

You’ve already heard his voice … even if you didn’t know it. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with the former “voice of NPR,” Frank Tavares, about being a somewhat of a disembodied celebrity and about his new book “The Man Who Built Boxes.


(Duration: 51:30)

Frank Tavares

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Frank Tavares, who for years was the “voice of NPR." Often cited as the most heard voice on public radio, Tavares read the underwriting announcements for the news network. We'll hear from him this hour about his public radio roots in Illinois and his work with the Journal of Radio and Audio Media, an communication journal for which he is a founding editor.

Host Jim Meadows also talks with Tavares about his new fiction book of short stories, "The Man Who Built Boxes."


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WILL - Focus - December 05, 2013

Will the 2013 Farm Bill be approved in 2013?

The 2013 farm bill is at least a 900 billion dollar piece of legislation. It’s been stalled in Congress since the 2008 bill expired a year ago. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about what the hold-up is and why it matters.


(Duration: 51:50)

Farmers have been operating for more than a year now without a farm bill. Since the 2008 bill expired, there’s been an ideological debate surrounding the funding of certain programs in the farm bill, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. There are currently two versions of the farm bill stalled in Congress, one passed by the Senate and one passed by the House, and if legislators can’t come to a compromise by January 1, farm policy written in the 1940’s will take effect. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about why there’s been such a fight over this year’s farm bill and how that differs from farm bills past.

Jonathan Coppess, a Clinical Professor of Law and Policy in the Department of Agriculture Economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and former chief of staff to Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, (D) who worked on the Senate version of the bill and Mary Kay Thatcher, Senior Director of Congressional Affairs for the American Farm Bureau Federation join us.

Tags: farm bill, farm

WILL - Focus - December 04, 2013

What does Tuesday’s pension vote mean?

A bill to fix the state’s massively underfunded pension system is headed to Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Illinois Public Radio Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky and former state senator Rick Winkel about what’s in the bill and what happens now.


(Duration: 51:42)

Tally of votes in the Illinois Senate Tuesday on the pension reform bill

Tuesday, the Illinois Legislature approved a history plan to eliminate the state’s $100 billion pension shortfall, considered the worst in the nation. The House voted 62-53 in favor of the plan, and the Senate approved the measure minutes earlier. The bill, however, passed with little support from East Central Illinois lawmakers.

How will it help the state’s budgetary woes and what will it mean for state employees? Does it violate the state’s pension protections spelled out in the Illinois constitution?  This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Illinois Public Radio’s Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky and former Illinois State Senator Rick Winkel about what’s in the bill and what it means.

Categories: Government, Politics

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