Focus

WILL - Focus - October 30, 2013

A conversation with Tim Yoder, and the CU Woodshop

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Tim Yoder, the former host of PBS Create’s “Woodworking Workshop with Tim Yoder,” and Mike Van Pelt of the CU Woodshop.

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(Duration: 51:41)

a person turning a woodturned bowl

Woodturning has been an art since around 1300 BC when the Egyptians first developed a two-person lathe, but it’s only been popular in the United States for the last few decades. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about woodturning and the satisfaction of making something tangible.

Categories: Art and Culture, How-to

WILL - Focus - October 28, 2013

Understanding Personality Tests

Have you ever taken a personality test to see what it says about you? Today on Focus, we’ll talk about what they actually measure and what we can and can’t learn from them.

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(Duration: 51:55)

The International Society for Arboriculture uses the "True Colors" personality test. Employees keep their colors on puzzle pieces outside their door in the office.

Personality tests inform hiring selections, career paths, dating options and any number of other decisions in business, academia and culture. But what do personality tests actually measure, and do our personalities change over time? Why do we seem to love to taking personality tests so much? This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Professor Brent Roberts about the science, popularity and limits, of personality tests. We’ll also hear from Cindy Harris, a human resources manager, from the International Society of Arboriculture. The Champaign based organization says using the “True Colors” personality test has been really helpful in their workplace culture.

Categories: Art and Culture

WILL - Focus - October 24, 2013

Haunted Champaign-Urbana and Illinois author Brandon Massey on writing horror fiction

He was found hanging in a nearby tree in the 1840’s, and now, if you venture out to the cemetery at night, you’ll be visited by a blue orb. Or so the story goes … 

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(Duration: 51:26)

The Orpheum Children's Science Museum's theatre is said to be haunted by the spirit of a past projection booth operator.

Storytelling is an art, but telling scary stories is a skill all its own. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with two people intimately involved with what it means to craft and share a tale meant to thrill, surprise and terrorize.

For the first half of this hour on Focus, Camille Born joins host Jim Meadows to talk about the history behind Champaign-Urbana’s ghost stories. According to some, there’s a blue ghost who haunts Clements Cemetery in Urbana and the spirit of a former police officer killed during prohibition lingers in downtown Champaign. Then, we’ll hear from Illinois native and fiction author Brandon Massey about writing horror stories. Meadows also talks with Massey about his forthcoming novel "In the Dark."

Born is hosting walking tours for the Orpheum Children's Science Museum as a part of their "After Dark" series where she tells several ghost stories on location in Champaign, and the University of Illinois' Spulock Museum is also hosting a ghost story event this weekend. Find more information here.

Read more to see a video of Camille telling a story not heard on air in our studios!


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.  

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(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 - 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.

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(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 11, 2013

Christopher Baker and Claire Lieberman

What inspires you? Have you ever traveled somewhere or seen something that led to one of those “moments.” This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with two Illinois artists inspired by seemingly opposing mediums – technology and nature.

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(Duration: 51:37)

Christopher Baker's "Hello World! Or: How I stopped listening and learned to love the noise."

Christopher Baker, a Chicago based artist and professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s work “Hello World!  Or: How I Learned to Stop Listening and Love the Noise” is currently on display at the Krannert Art Museum and combines more than 5,000 video diary entries into one display. You can’t understand all the voices individually, and if you step back far enough, you can’t even see clearly who the people are. These days, Baker says, it’s easy to get lost in that shuffle, to be drowned out by the noise. Should we accept that, or rebel against it? For the first half of this hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Baker about his art, his video diary project and a little about the history of YouTube.

Then during the second half of this episode of Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Illinois State University’s Claire Lieberman. She teaches sculpture and is preparing for an expedition to the North Pole to observe the landscape and most importantly, the ice and what it looks like as its melting. She’ll spend about 2 weeks on a ship with scientists, climatologists and we’ll talk with her about the trip, how she’s preparing for it and what she hopes to discover while she’s there. 

Have you gone to what seems like the ends of the earth seeking inspiration? Where did you go? What did you do? We’d love to hear from you this hour on Focus!

Categories: Art and Culture

WILL - Focus - August 07, 2013

Encore: The Art of Acting

Have you ever acted in a play? This hour on Focus, we’ll listen back to a conversation Jeff Bossert had with character actor Stephen Tobolowsky and Henson Keys about the art of acting.

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(Duration: 49:41)

At some point, almost everyone dreams of being a movie star or being on stage and in the limelight… but without the actors and actresses in supporting roles, there would be no star of the show. This hour on Focus, we’ll listen back to a conversation Jeff Bossert had with Stephen Toboloswky and University of Illinois Acting Program Chair Henson Keys about the importance of the character actor and how supporting roles are sometimes even more challenging to play well than leading roles. We’ll also talk with Stephen about the moment he knew he was destined for a career as a character actor....when he started to lose his hair while he was studying at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Categories: Art and Culture, Cinema

WILL - Focus - July 16, 2013

Summer Photography

Whether you’ve got a point and shoot camera, a cell phone or a high quality Nikon, we welcome your questions about photography this hour on Focus.

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(Duration: 51:45)

a photo of the prairie and a cornfield

Champaign based photographer Larry Kanfer has been developing his own images since he was 10 years old and is well known across the country for his pictures of the prairie. Brian Johnson is a national award-winning photojournalist who has taught thousands of students how to become excellent photographers in his 25 years at the University of Illinois. This hour on Focus, Jack Brighton talks with Larry Kanfer about his work, and about his favorite places to take pictures in East Central Illinois.  We'll talk with Brian Johnson about photojournalism, travel photography, and about how to get the best pictures you can of whatever you’re photographing this summer.

Larry Kanfer will be exhibiting his photography at the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, IL August 27th-29th. Find more information at the link below. 

Categories: Art and Culture

WILL - Focus - July 08, 2013

Gamma Phi Circus and The Ordinary Acrobat

What comes to mind when you hear the word “circus?” Probably not a college campus… During this hour on Focus, Lindsey Moon talks with Marcus Alouan of Gamma Phi Circus at Illinois State University about collegiate circus and circus summer camps. 

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(Duration: 51:32)

Gamma Phi Circus performers

Early in the 20th century, acrobats, specifically trapeze artists, would winter in Bloomington-Normal to practice in empty mills and empty buildings with high ceilings. This hour on Focus, Lindsey Moon talks with Marcus Alouan, director of the Gamma Phi Circus at Illinois State University, about how those performers sparked a circus movement in Bloomington-Normal. We’ll learn more about Gamma Phi Circus, one of the oldest and one of the only collegiate circuses in the country and will hear about the circus camps the university sponsors to keep the circus tradition alive.

Then during the second part of the hour, we’ll listen back to a conversation Lindsey had with Duncan Wall. With no prior circus, dance or tumbling experience, Wall spent a year studying circus in Paris, France on a Fullbright scholarship and wrote a book about the experience and circus history called “The Ordinary Acrobat: A Journey Into the Wondrous World of the Circus Past and Present.”

Categories: Art and Culture, Sports

WILL - Focus - June 06, 2013

Superman: America’s Most Enduring Superhero

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s… You know how that ends. This hour on Focus, we talk about Superman, the origins of the character and Superman’s place in popular culture

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(Duration: 51:22)

the judging stage at the Superman Costume Contest in Metropolis, IL

Superman’s character was created in the early 1930’s and has since has appeared or been referenced in pretty much every form of media – comics, books, movies and even in song. During this episode of Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Larry Tye, author of the book “The High-Flying History of American’s Most Enduring Super Hero.” He talks with Tye about the creators of the character, movie adaptations and of course, the iconic red cape.

We’ll also hear from Karla Ogle, co-chair of the Superman Festival in Metropolis, Illinois. The festival draws more than 30,000 people to Metropolis, population ~6,000 each year. Jim Hambrick, who founded and curates the Super Museum also joins us.

Do you have questions about the history of Superman? Maybe you’re a huge fan… We want to hear from you this hour on Focus!

Categories: Art and Culture

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