WILL - Focus - June 04, 2013

Touch Screen Kids

Too much screen time is bad news, at least that's how the story goes. But they're getting harder to avoid, especially during summer when kids are home from school. This hour on Focus, we talk about screens, educational media and how much is too much.


(Duration: 50:44)

one child reads while another looks at a computer screen

In a recent article in the Atlantic, senior editor Hanna Rosin wrote about her experiences as a mother and the pressure she feels to limit her children’s screen time. This hour on Focus, guest host Chris Berube talks with Hanna about her experiences with electronics and educational media as a parent. We’ll also talk with David Bickham, who is a researcher at the Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children’s Hospital about how much screen time is recommended, how to make the most out of that time and what the dangers are of too much screen time.

WILL - Focus - May 15, 2013

Reading with Pictures

Do you love comics? Have you ever learned anything from one? This hour on Focus, we talk about reading with pictures and how comics can help kids learn. 


(Duration: 51:24)

graphic textbook cover

University of Illinois Assistant Professor Carol Tilley has always felt strongly about the fact that kids need comics. And she’s not the only one. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Tilley about how comics played a huge role in her childhood and why she thinks it’s so upsetting that they are less widely available and more expensive than they once were. Award-winning graphic novelist and nationally syndicated cartoonist Josh Elder also joins us. He’s creating a new series of graphic textbooks for elementary and middle school teachers. We’ll talk with him and Tilley about what sets comics apart and why they’re useful in the classroom.

WILL - Focus - April 23, 2013

The Humanity Project

How do you define human decency? Can you comfort the miserable; is that even possible? This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with New York Times Best-Selling author Jean Thompson about her new book “The Humanity Project.”


(Duration: 51:16)

The Humanity Project book cover

In her new book 'The Humanity Project" Jean Thompson confronts circumstances and questions plaguing many in the US in a post-recession era. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Thompson about her new novel, what inspired the story and why she thinks its an important story to tell. 

This hour we'll meet Sean, a wayward carpenter whose bad luck turns even worse; Linnea, who has survived a school shooting and is living in California with a father she barely knows, and Mrs. Foster, a wealthy cat lady who starts "the Humanity Project" to help out a few whose luck has run out. 

Read an excerpt of the book at the link below.

Categories: Books and Reading

WILL - Focus - April 22, 2013

Julia Sweeney

As a parent, how do you talk to your kids about the birds and the bees? That very conversation inspired Julia Sweeney’s new book “If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother.” She joins us live today on Focus!


(Duration: 52:02)

Julia Sweeney

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.

WILL - Focus - April 11, 2013

Bond….James Bond

What is it about James Bond? Why did the character spark such a following and why does the character endure? This hour on Focus, we talked about Bond, his cars and his legacy.


(Duration: 51:26)

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.

WILL - Focus - April 08, 2013

Mad Men, Mad World: Sex, Politics, Style and the 1960’s

The premier for the 6th season of MadMen was last night on AMC. Are you a fan of the show? Love it? Hate it? This hour on Focus, guest host Chris Berube talked with three UIUC professors who have just published the book “Mad Men, Mad World: Sex, Politics, Style and the 1960’s.”


(Duration: 51:11)

Mad Men cast

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.”

WILL - Focus - March 08, 2013

Bats, Economic Development and a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate: Coming up next week on Focus

Is it important to you to shop locally? Did you know bats play a really important role in the production of tequila and chocolate? Find out more about what’s coming up on Focus and join our conversation.

Jody Williams

Monday, March 11 - My Name is Jody Williams
Have you been an activist? What causes matter to you?

Jody Williams was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her campaign to eradicate landmines. But she wasn’t always an activist. Monday on Focus, we’ll talk with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jody Williams about her new memoir, “My Name is Jody Williams.” She’ll tell us about her life as an activist, why she’s spent her career advocating for freedom and human rights and what she really means when she uses the word “peace.”

WILL - Focus - March 04, 2013

Miriam Cooke and Hijab Trendz

Have you ever used writing as an outlet? Today on Focus, we examined stereotypes about Arab women with Professor Miriam Cooke, who studies how Islamic women empower themselves through writing. Then, Mariam Sobh, a native of Champaign and the founder of the fashion blog Hijab Trendz joins the program. 


(Duration: 50:24)

Mariam Sobh wearing a white hijab

During this hour on Focus, we talk with Professor Miriam Cooke about how she got started studying Muslim women and their writing and why their writings are important. She talks with us about women who inspired the feminist movement in the Middle East and why it became important during the 1990’s. Cooke is a Professor of Arab Cultures at Duke University and the Director of the University’s Middle East Studies Center. She’s been a visiting professor in Tunisia, Romania, Indonesia, and Qatar and is one of the foremost scholars on Islamic Feminism and Arab Culture.

Then during the second half of the hour, we talk with Mariam Sobh. She’s the founder and editor-in-chief of Hijab Trendz, a fashion blog for Muslim women. Host Jim Meadows talks with Sobh about her decision to cover her hair, what it means and how some Muslim women are choosing not to.

WILL - Focus - February 25, 2013

Weird Life

We are fascinated with exotic life forms; legends of monsters like the Kraken and Nessie liter our folklore. But why? Today on Focus, host Jim Meadows talked with David Toomey, the author of the new book Weird Life.


(Duration: 50:24)

the book cover

During this episode of Focus, host Jim Meadows talked with author David Toomey about his new book, “Weird Life: The Search for Life that is Very, Very Different From Our Own.” He tells us about organisms that live off acid rather than water, those that reproduce without DNA and thrive in temperatures and pressures so extreme that they really shouldn’t be alive in the first place. Meadows also talked with Toomey about our fascination with exotic life forms here on Earth and why we’re so fascinated with the possibility of the discovery of life in the rest of the universe.

What’s your favorite exotic animal? We want to hear from you! Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter or post in the comments section below.

WILL - Focus - February 14, 2013

Quirky Alone: Single by Choice

Think Valentine’s Day is overrated? We’ve got an alternative. During this episode of Focus, host Craig Cohen talked with Sasha Cagen, the founder of the QuirkyAlone movement about why it’s okay to resist the idea that being single means being lonely. Find the podcast here


(Duration: 50:29)

Sasha Cagen

To many February 14 is Valentine’s Day; the “Hallmark holiday” famous for teddy bears gripping pink satin hearts that say “I love you,” chocolate, jewelry and cheesy greeting cards. But according to Sasha Cagen, February 14 is actually QuirkyAlone Day. This hour on Focus, host Craig Cohen talks with Cagen about the movement she’s sparked with her book “Quirky Alone: A Manifesto for Uncompromising Romantics.” We’ll talk about why she’s chosen to live alone and why she speaks out against the idea that your life is incomplete until you’re coupled.

Have you chosen to stay single? Do you identify with the QuirkyAlone movement? Maybe you just think Valentine’s Day is dumb and are happy to learn of a counter holiday... Join our conversation. Find us on Facebook and Twitter.

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