WILL - Focus - April 25, 2014

Brain drain in downstate Illinois

There’s been a steady flow of industry and people out of some downstate Illinois factory towns for years. This hour on Focus, we'll look at the numbers and hear from one town that has stopped the outflow of people, even after their Maytag plant relocated.


(Duration: 35:19)

downtown Decatur

When Archer Daniels Midland told Decatur city officials that it would be moving its global headquarters to Chicago, city councilman Pat McDaniel said the news hurt, but that it wasn’t surprising. “Young people don’t want to locate in Decatur anymore, at least we’re starting to see more and more people want to move to places like Chicago.”

And according to IRS and US Census data, McDaniel might be right. People are moving, around Illinois and out of the state all together. For at least the last fifteen years, more people have moved out of Illinois than have moved in. In order to keep businesses and communities thriving, Michael Lucci of the Illinois Policy Institute says that trend has to stop. It’s costing the state lots of money in tax revenue. In addition, Lucci says it’s a specific demographic that appears to be moving out.

Categories: Business, Community, Economics

WILL - Focus - January 31, 2014

Cash, credit or Bitcoin?

Venture capitalists are starting to invest in bitcoin, and some major retailers are considering accepting it as payment. Does that mean it’s on track to become a new form of mainstream currency?


(Duration: 51:51)

a bitcoin banknote

Bitcoin, a form of cryptocurrency, is now being accepted by major online supplier Sites like are also reported to also be considering accepting bitcoin as payment. There are even bitcoin ATMs starting to pop up in major cities. Locally, Cheese and Crackers, an artisanal deli in Champaign, has been accepting bitcoin for about 6 months. Owner Bart Basi says in his store bitcoin is more of a conversation starter than a currency at this point but that he does get a couple customers every month who pay with it.

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Basi about being reimbursed in bitcoin. Jim Angel, Visiting Associate Professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania from the School of Business at Georgetown University, also joins the show. Venture capital firms like Anderseen-Horowitz, whose co-founder wrote recently about the potential for bitcoin, say bitcoin is a solution to a lot of technical problems with online payments. Angel isn’t so sure and joins Focus to talk about the merits and problems with bitcoin.

Categories: Business, Economics

WILL - Focus - December 13, 2013

Raising the perfect tree

Many of us only think about Christmas trees and Christmas tree farms around the holiday season, but for some, it’s a year-round business. 


(Duration: 51:10)

Gary Chastagner, who has been working for more than two decades to determine which varieties of trees are the best at keeping their needles, says that for him, Christmas trees are more about business than they are about tradition or holiday sentimentality. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Chastagner, a plant pathologist and professor at Washington State University, about the research that goes into helping tree farmers know what they need to know to the kinds of trees that consumers demand.

Then, during the second half of this hour on Focus, we’ll hear from Ron Evans, a second generation Christmas tree farmer based in Decatur, Ill., about caring for and raising his trees. He operates farms in Illinois and in Wisconsin and says running a Christmas tree farm is more complicated than it seems. 

Categories: Agriculture, Business

WILL - Focus - May 10, 2013

Find Out More About What’s Coming Up Next Week on Focus

We'll talk about the psychology of summer camp, the case for comics in the classroom, personal finance and more! 

Next week on Focus, we’ll talk about the magic of summer camp, the growing need for translators and why some are pushing for comics in schools.

WILL - Focus - May 03, 2013

Talk with the Managers

What’s in the future for public media? How is the sequester affecting WILL? This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Illinois Public Media General Manger Mark Leonard and Station Manager Bob Culkeen. We welcome your questions!


(Duration: 51:36)

Station Manager Bob Culkeen and General Manager Mark Leonard

This hour on Focus host Jim Meadows talks with Illinois Public Media’s head honchoes. Bob Culkeen and Mark Leonard will be here to discuss programming changes taking place this summer, the health of your public media station and new ideas we’re cooking up at WILL.

WILL - Focus - February 01, 2013

The Future of Space Travel

Ten years ago, the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded on re-entry over Texas, killing seven astronauts; in the years that followed, state-funded space flight dwindled. Today on Focus, we'll talk the future of space exploration with a former astronaut, an aerospace engineer and a businessman who wants to make human settlements in space a reality. Join our conversation at 10 or on Facebook and Twitter


(Duration: 50:39)

A satellite in space

Ten years ago, the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded on re-entry over Texas, killing seven astronauts. While the shuttle program continued for some years thereafter, state-funded space flight dwindled in the decade that followed. Now, space is becoming more of a private industry. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about the future of space travel. Michael Lopez-Alegria, a former astronaut and President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation will be here to talk about his experiences in space and what needs to happen for commercial space tourism and research to become a reality. We’ll also talk with Philippe Geubelle, a Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the UIUC and the Director of the Illinois Space Grant Consortium about funding for aerospace education for next generation and Jonathan Card, Executive Director of the Space Frontier Foundation.

Did you ever dream of being an astronaut? If you could plan a vacation to space, would you? Join our conversation on Facebook or on Twitter .

WILL - Focus - December 06, 2012

The Young Professional’s Survival Guide: From Cab Fares to Moral Snares


(Duration: 50:40)

Cover of Book, The Young Professional's Survival Guide: From Cab Fares to Moral Snares

We’ll discuss ethical dilemmas in the workplace with C.K. Gunsalus, Director of the National Center for Professional and Research Ethics, and Professor Emerita in the College of Business at the U of I, and author of The Young Professional’s Survival Guide: From Cab Fares to Moral Snares. We’ll welcome your examples of ethical quandaries you’ve faced in the professional world – from rampant stealing of office supplies, to questionable business practices – anything you’ve come across, that maybe you’ve been asked to do in the workaday world that has given you pause, and how you handled it.

Categories: Business

WILL - Focus - November 01, 2012

Ethical Chic: The Inside Story of the Companies We Think We Love


(Duration: 55:03)

There are many reasons to purchase goods or services from one company over another: price, quality, and convenience. But sometimes, the decision is a moral one; we seek out businesses we believe support or represent our world view – or avoid those that defy it. (The debate earlier this summer over Chick-Fil-A was a demonstration of both).

At the heart of such decisions is whether we deem a company to be socially responsible. But how do you really know? How can you be sure that a reputation is accurate and deserved? And what if the truth is mixed – what if a company leads on one ethical precept, but falls short on another?

Journalist Fran Hawthorne has contemplated these questions, and set out to uncover whether some of the most beloved, trusted companies who have built up a socially responsible reputation really live up to the hype. In the book Ethical Chic: The Inside Story of the Companies We Think We Love, Hawthorne takes us behind the scenes of companies with powerful brand loyalty, companies like Tom’s of Maine, Starbucks, and Apple. Along the way, Hawthorne finds out why these companies have earned seemingly unflagging devotion from socially conscious consumers. And she calls out the companies and consumers alike with a provocative question: Is it really about being socially conscious, or just looking like you are?

This is a repeat broadcast from Tuesday, September 04, 2012, 10 am

WILL - Focus - August 31, 2012

Farmers Markets


(Duration: 55:01)

Janine MacLachlan, Food Writer, Blogger, and Founder of The Rustic Kitchen Cooking School

Lisa Bralts, Economic Development Specialist Director, Urbana's Market at the Square City of Urbana

Host: Craig Cohen

We can get our food from most anywhere – restaurants and grocery stores abound in most communities across the country. Even if you live in a small town, many food options are just a short drive away. But much of what we bring home from the grocery store – and much of what many restaurants (especially the fast food variety) serve is processed, pre-packaged, and probably not all that fresh.

And then there are farmer’s markets. Growers, producers and artisans bring fresh food from their local communities to such markets every week. And some consumers absolutely swear by various seasonal markets and farmstands.

Is the food really all that different? What controls are in place to ensure quality and freshness in farmer’s markets? How do you know you’re really getting the higher quality you pay for? And just what are the advantages for you, your family, and your community in seeing that such farmer’s markets succeed?

We’ll discuss the potential benefits of vibrant farmer’s markets for a community, and seek out your experiences shopping at them – or perhaps bringing your own fare to market, as we talk with Janine MacLachlan, a food writer, blogger and founder of The Rustic Kitchen Cooking School.  She’s the author of Farmers’ Markets of the Heartland. We’ll also be joined by Lisa Bralts, Economic Development Specialist Director for Urbana’s Market at the Square for the City of Urbana. She and Market at the Square are featured prominently in MacLachlan’s book.

This is a repeat broadcast from Wednesday, July 18, 2012, 10 am

Categories: Agriculture, Business, Food

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