WILL - Focus - November 14, 2013

The Day Kennedy Died: A conversation with former life editor Richard Stolley

Abraham Zapruder caught one of the most infamous moments in American history on film and sold the footage to Life Magazine. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with the reporter who convinced him to give up the film.


(Duration: 51:20)

Kennedy motorcade in Dallas

When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated at Dealy Plaza in Dallas, Texas in 1963, Richard Stolley was Los Angeles bureau chief for Life Magazine. He got a call soon after the news of the assassination broke that someone named Zapruder had caught the whole thing on film.

Categories: History

WILL - Focus - November 13, 2013

Reading into children’s books

Is telling a story or being accurate to history important in a children’s storybook? Today on Focus - balancing fact and fiction in literature for very young readers.


(Duration: 51:39)

The cover of Marianne Malone's "The Pirate's Coin," a book in the "68 Rooms" series.

Janet Riehecky’s been fascinated by dinosaurs since she was a little girl; today, she writes books about them. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Riehecky about writing a children’s book that grounds itself in scientific fact. Riehecky is the author of several children's books, including the series "Killer Animals," which features a variety of creatures found in nature such as scorpions and cobras.

Then, Meadows talks with Urbana author Marianne Malone. Malone has been working on a series of books inspired by the Thorne Room art exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago. Although the stories are fictional, she says the books pull from history and are meant to teach about the past. Malone has so far written three books in the series, the latest being The Pirate's Coin.

What were your favorite books when you were little? Did they teach you anything?

Categories: Books and Reading

WILL - Focus - November 12, 2013

The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change

Wanjala, or the "hunger season" is the time of year between planting and harvest when food is scarce. This hour on Focus, we'll hear about how one farming community in Kenya’s struggle with hunger.


(Duration: 51:44)

book cover

In farming communities in Kenya, there is a period of time every year called wanjala, when food is scarce and hunger is rampant. In his most recent book "The Last Hunger Season," Roger Thurow tells the story of four farmers in western Kenya, and their struggles with hunger and poverty, while they try out a program supplied by the NGO One Acre, that brings hope of eliminating the “Hunger Season” for good.


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WILL - Focus - November 11, 2013

From the Frontlines to the Home Front: Inside Views of the Military 1940-2012

This hour on Focus, we’ll hear a documentary produced by University Laboratory High School and WILL, “From the Frontlines to the Home Front: Inside View of the Military 1940-2012.”


(Duration: 59:30)

Students interview Vietnam veteran Steve Allen

Culture within and surrounding the United States Military has changed dramatically over the course of the half a century. If you’ve never served in the armed forces, have you wondered what that change looks like from an insider’s perspective?  This hour on Focus, we’ll hear from men and women who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq about their experiences.

“From the Frontlines to the Home Front: Inside Views of the Military 1940-2012” is part of an oral history project that students from University High School produce with WILL.

Categories: Military

WILL - Focus - November 08, 2013

Gardening: Extending the Growing Season

This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with horticulture expert Sandy Mason and Karen Geiser, a market gardener, about extending the growing season and eating fresh and local during the winter months. We welcome your calls and questions this hour on Focus!


(Duration: 50:48)

Cold hearty green vegetables growing in Karen's Garden in early March.

Colder weather is upon us, but that doesn’t mean you can’t continue to grow vegetables. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with market gardener Karen Geiser, who owns Karen’s Garden Delights in Kidron Ohio, about cold hearty plants and vegetables. She says she cold frames, high tunnels and low tunnels to ensure she has fresh food from her garden all year round. And of course, University of Illinois Extension horticulture expert Sandy Mason also joins us. We welcome your gardening questions this hour on Focus!


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WILL - Focus - November 07, 2013

Superheroes on and off the page

What defines a super hero? This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Bill Rosemann, editor at Marvel comics and Mark Hughes, film critic for Forbes, about the rise of the super hero on and off the page.


(Duration: 51:40)

Marvel editor Bill Rosemann

We’ve long been fascinated by super heroes, but why? According to Bill Rosemann, an editor at Marvel comics, it’s because they are relatable. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Rosemann about what makes a super hero super and why they’ve captivated us for decades. Rosemann also talks about Marvel’s newest character, Ms. Marvel, a Pakistani-American character from New Jersey who is muslim.

Then, in the second half of this hour on Focus, Meadows talks with Mark Hughes, a comic book aficionado and contributing writer for Forbes. We’ll talk with him about the rise of the super hero on screen and how companies like DC and Marvel have expanded their stories across the media landscape.

What do you think makes a super hero “super?” Post in the comments section below!

Categories: Art and Culture

WILL - Focus - November 06, 2013

Architect Michael Sorkin

What will cities look like in 10 years? According to architect Michael Sorkin, they'll look how we want them to...


(Duration: 51:16)

Michael Sorkin

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with renowned architect, architecture critic, author and teacher Michael Sorkin about his work with design on the city level. Will some of the redevelopment that's happened as the US pulls out of the recession, like what has happened in New York City for example, continue? What's the best way to continue to stimulate that redevelopment and growth? During this interview, Sorkin talks about the redevelopment of cities and the trend away from people living in suburbia. Meadows also talks with him about transportation and why more and more people are utilizing public buses and trains.

He’s speaking on campus at the University of Illinois Thursday, November 7 at 7:00 p.m. in the Plym Auditorium in Temple Buell Hall and will be delivering a lecture, “The City After Now.”

Categories: Community

WILL - Focus - November 05, 2013

Backyard Chickens

Do you keep backyard chickens? If you can’t, would you like to?


(Duration: 51:22)

Three chickens foraging in grass.

Next week, the Champaign City Council will vote on whether or not to allow residents to raise chickens on their property. While some are really excited about the possibility that they could raise chickens within Champaign city limits, some are skeptical about the smell and the noise. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about why people choose to keep backyard chickens and what it’s like to raise them. To start their hour on Focus we’ll hear from Karen Carney, who is a Champaign resident and wants her own chickens.

Then, host Jim Meadows also talks with Colleen Wagner, who lives in Urbana where backyard chickens are allowed. Wagner built her own chicken coop to raise chickens for their eggs in her backyard and says its empowering to know where her food is coming from and what the chickens are being fed. Steve Ayers, who is with the University of Illinois Extension also joins us to talk about the cost of raising chickens and some things to consider before getting your own.

Do you get your eggs from your backyard? Do your neighbors keep chickens? Are you for or against the idea the idea of backyard chickens? We’d love to hear from you this hour on Focus.

Categories: Agriculture, Animals

WILL - Focus - November 04, 2013

Until Tuesday and the UNI High Documentary Project

If you own a pet, you understand the emotional bond that can form between a dog and its owner. This hour on focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Capt. Luis Carlos Montalván about his book “Until Tuesday.”


(Duration: 51:12)

Captain Luis Carlos Montalván and Tuesday

US Army Captain Luis Montalván was a highly decorated member of the US military when he returned home from two tours of duty in Iraq. The trauma he encountered overseas, however, started to take its toll as he settled back into his life stateside. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Montalván about his struggle to return to civilian life after his time in the service and how Capt. Montalván’s relationship with his service dog “Tuesday,” restored him both psychologically and spiritually.

WILL - Focus - November 01, 2013

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: 51:51)

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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