According to Nielsen Soundscan, a company that tracks the sale of music in the US, vinyl sales are up by 35% over the same time last year; nearly two million vinyl albums have sold so far in 2013. Nielsen says their data shows that vinyl sales started climbing in 2007 and have kept on going ever since. Interesting considering music hasn’t been released solely on vinyl albums for decades... This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about the resurgence of records and record stores and will talk about what makes old-fashioned records so appealing in an era largely defined by digital culture.
Former Saturday Night Live cast member Julia Sweeney is known for both her infamous character “Pat” and her solo performances. Since her days on SNL, she’s toured as a one woman show exploring love, cancer, family and faith in God Said Ha!, In the Family Way and Letting Go of God. In her new book If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother, she confronts parenting and what it was like for her as a single woman to adopt her daughter, Mulan. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Sweeney about her book, the TED Talk and the embroidered pillow that inspired the book.
We’ll also ask her about “Pat” and her career as a comedian and performer.
Do you have questions for Julia about her life and career? In her book, she writes about her hatred of large strollers and being mistaken for her daughter’s grandmother. Do you relate? Post in the comments section below or find us on Facebook and Twitter @Focus580.
Pulitzer Prize winning film critic, screenwriter and journalist Roger Ebert will be remembered as one of the greatest film critics of all time. His mark on the cinema, our culture and our community are undeniable. This hour on Focus, guest host Jeff Bossert talks with Chicgao Tribune film critic Michael Phillips. Phillips filled in for Roger on "At the Movies" when he first became ill and later took over the show. We'll also hear from several members of the Champaign-Urbana community and a long-time Ebertfest volunteer.
Did you know and love Roger? What did he mean to you? To our community? We want to hear from you this hour on Focus.
A new local WILL-TV special, Ebert Remembered, airing at 8 pm Thursday, April 18, will highlight excerpts of WILL-TV interviews with Roger Ebert in which he talks about his childhood in Urbana, his experience at the University of Illinois and his role as a movie critic.
This week marks the 60th anniversary of the release of Ian Fleming’s “Casino Royale” that introduced the world to the now infamous mystery man, James Bond. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Michael VanBlaricum, a UIUC alumnus and founder of the Ian Fleming Foundation, about Bond’s legacy. John Cork, co-author of the book "James Bond: The Legacy" and a documentary film maker and writer known for his knowledge of the character, also joins us.
The premier for the 6th season of MadMen was last night on AMC. Set in the 1960’s in New York, the television drama follows the lives of advertising executives on Madison Avenue. Some have criticized the show for its portrayal of race and gender politics, while those same elements of the show have drawn critical acclaim from others. This hour on Focus, guest host Chris Berube talks with Robert Rushing, Lilya Kaganovsky and Lauren Goodlad of the UIUC about the show and their book “MadMen, Mad World: Sex, Politics Style and the 1960’s.”
Reporters from Illinois Public Media - Jim Meadows, Jeff Bossert and Sean Powers - choose and discuss their picks for the top IPR news stories of the year.
Advice on taking pictures
We’ll be taking your questions on cameras and photography as we welcome back to the show Brian Johnson, professor of journalism at the University of Illinois. From time to time he stops by and we talk about the changing technology of picture taking. We can take questions on equipment and also technique. Whether you are a pro or a serious hobbyist, you shoot film or digital, your call will be welcome.
A blimp in flames crashes through the roof of a busy downtown bank; a racial incident at a hot, crowded beach spirals into one of the worst urban riots in American history; a transit strike paralyzes the city; the body of a missing young girl is found, the victim of a gruesome murder. The Great Fire of 1871 holds a notorious place in Chicago history – but these incidents over 12 balmy days in 1919 shaped the city in profound ways and paved the way for the birth of the modern American city.
Did video kill the radio star? If so, it was with a lot of help from MTV. It's hard to remember that the initials MTV, now better known for reality programming, actually stand for "Music Television." In its first decade, MTV lived up to its name - it played music videos all day, the way a radio station played records. Though music videos had been played on television since the 1960s, MTV was the first outlet specifically programmed around music videos. We'll talk with Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum, authors of "I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution" about the tumultuous first decade of MTV and the videos that made the 1980s and early 1990s memorable.
In the 1930s and 1940s, the Library of Congress commissioned audio recordings of amateur singers and songwriters throughout the United States. These have come to be called "field recordings," and the recordists travelled the country in search of them. Musician, recording artist, and writer Stephen Wade tells the story of thirteen of these recordings made across the United States between 1934 and 1942 in locations reaching from Southern Appalachia to the Mississippi Delta and the Great Plains. Working 18 years on this project, Wade travelled the country, seeking out the original artists, their families or friends present at the recordings and interviewed more than 200 people for the book. Most of the original artists were amateur singers or musicians who were being recorded for the first and only time; many of their famililes were not even aware that the recordings were made. And yet many of the songs have enjoyed long afterlives, influencing musicians and featuring in films.
Stephen Wade is a musician and writer whose latest album is Banjo Diary: Lessons from Tradition, out on Smithsonian Folkways Records.