WILL - Focus - October 03, 2013

Are Orchestras in Crisis?

It’s no secret that classical music’s listener base has been shrinking over time, and there’s no easy answer to why. One thing is for certain, attendance at orchestral concerts is down. But what's the best way to reverse the trend? Classical musicians, conductors and fans tend to disagree.  


(Duration: 51:50)

The Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra performing under the direction of Stephen Alltop.

Symphony orchestra performance attendance has always been a mixed bag, but what’s the best way to draw in new listeners? Some argue orchestras should perform more popular music at concerts in hopes of drawing people who might not necessarily exclusively listen to classical, and in East Central Illinois, pops concerts are better attended than strictly classical shows. But some devoted listeners only want to hear classical pieces by composers like Beethoven or Brahms and frown upon the idea of their orchestras performing more popular arrangements.

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Stephen Alltop, the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra's new music director; Jeremy Swerling, maestro for the Danville Sympohny Orchestra and Kevin Kelly, music director for the Prairie Ensemble and the Eastern Illinois Youth Orchestra. We'll talk with them about how they make decisions about what to perform at concerts, trying to balance the concerns of dedicated listeners while trying to increase attendance and introduce new listeners to the genre.

Categories: Art and Culture, Music

WILL - Focus - October 02, 2013

Get Covered Illinois! Health Marketplace Now Open for Business

Do you have questions about the new health care marketplaces? Maybe you think you should be shopping for insurance, but you’re not sure. This hour on Focus, we’ll try to demystify Illinois’ new health care exchanges. 


(Duration: 51:29)

Charlene Aumiller (left) gets help with the health care marketplace from Shannon Killian (right) of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District on Oct. 1, 2013.

Yesterday, Illinois’ new health care marketplace opened for business, enabling people to start enrolling in new health insurance plans. There are several plans to choose from with several different levels of coverage, but not everybody should be looking to the marketplace for coverage. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Claudia Lenhoff, Executive Director of Champaign County Health Care Consumers and Julie Pryde, Executive Director of  the Champaign County Public Health District, which is working to educate people about the new marketplaces, also known as exchanges, and get them enrolled in coverage.

Categories: Health

WILL - Focus - October 01, 2013

A Conversation with Former National Science Foundation Director Subra Suresh

Today on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with the Former Director of the National Science Foundation, Subra Suresh.


(Duration: 51:21)

Subra Suresh

When Subra Suresh was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate as director of the National Science Foundation in September 2010, he made history as the first Asia-born director of the organization. Today, he serves as President of Carnegie Mellon University. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Suresh about the NSF, making the transition from director to university president and about the changing nature of scientific research, which Suresh says is taking on an increasingly interdisciplinary identity.

Categories: Education, Science

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

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