Focus

WILL - Focus - February 13, 2014

The Negro in Illinois: The WPA Papers

After sifting through thousands of documents, Brian Dolinar finished a book started over 70 years ago. The work he helped to complete? "The Negro in Illinois: The WPA Papers."

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(Duration: 51:14)

The question: What was life like for black Americans in Illinois during the 1930s?

Before World War II, President Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration funded a special division of the Illinois Writer’s Project that employed black writers living in Illinois. The special program, which was led by Harlem Renaissance poet Arna Bontemps and white writer Jack Conroy, encouraged major black voices who lived in Chicago in the 1930s to write about everything from aspects of domestic life to politics, literature and religion. Novelists Richard Wright and Frank Yerby, and dancer and choreographer Katherine Dunham were among those who wrote or did research for a projected volume on African-American history in Illinois.

When funding for the project was diverted to the war, the papers written by those voices were put into a box and set aside – until Brian Dolinar uncovered them and complied them into a new book “The Negro in Illinois: The WPA Papers.” This hour on Focus, Jim Meadows talks with Brian Dolinar about discovering those lost writings after all these years.

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WILL - Focus - November 25, 2013

Encore: The Future for AM Radio

Can terrestrial radio survive in a digital era? This hour on Focus, we’ll listen back to a talk with Federal Communications Commissioner Ajit Pai about why he’s trying to save AM radio.

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(Duration: 51:35)

WILL AM-580 staffers in the 1930's

AM radio audiences are at an all-time low, but Ajit Pai, Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, has a plan to try and save AM signals from the static. Pai joined us for the first half of this hour on Focus to talk about why he is pushing for new policies to help AM stations bolster their signals.
 
We'll also listen back to when Host Jim Meadows also talked with Michael Harrison, publisher for Talkers Magazine, about the evolution of the AM dial from old time radio to music to conservative talk programming and sports. Can AM radio survive as we know it in an era of rapidly evolving technology? We’ll talk it over this hour on Focus.
 
What roles has AM radio played in your life? Are you ready to give it up? Or do you still think it's relevant? We’d love to hear from you this hour on Focus!
 

Tags: radio, am radio, am, fcc

WILL - Focus - September 17, 2013

Concealed Carry for the Blind or Visually Impaired?

As the state drafts its criteria for who can obtain a concealed carry permit, should vision be a consideration?

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(Duration: 51:20)

two people with guns

It violates the American with Disabilities Act to discriminate against the visually impaired, even when it comes to gun ownership. The state of Illinois issues FOID cards, the documentation you need to legally own a gun in Illinois, and hunting licenses to the blind. So, even if you can’t see, or don’t see well, you can own a gun in Illinois, but should you be able to carry it in public?

Categories: Civil Rights, Law

WILL - Focus - September 16, 2013

The Future for AM Radio

Can terrestrial radio survive in a digital era? This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Federal Communications Commissioner Ajit Pai about why he’s trying to save AM radio.

Listen

(Duration: 51:35)

WILL AM-580 staffers in the 1930's

AM radio audiences are at an all-time low, but Ajit Pai, Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, has a plan to try and save AM signals from the static. Pai joins us for the first half of this hour on Focus to talk about why he is pushing for new policies to help AM stations bolster their signals.

Tags: radio, am radio, am, fcc

WILL - Focus - August 26, 2013

Remembering the March on Washington

50 years ago this week, hundreds of thousands descended upon Washington D.C. for one of the largest protest marches of the civil rights movement. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Champaign-Urbana native Bill Smith about what it was like to be there. We’ll also talk with Sundiata Cha-Jua about the march’s historical significance.

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(Duration: 51:29)

In 1963 when he made the trip from Champaign to Washington D.C., Bill Smith was 21. As an active member of the NAACP chapter at the University of Illinois, he says he remembers feeling awed and inspired by the sheer number of other people who were gathered at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Even as a high school student at Champaign Central, he says he was involved with bringing the blacks and whites together. But it was when he returned from the march that he says he was motivated to really become an agent for change.

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Smith about his experience at 1963 March on Washington; his relationship with his long-time mentor Erma Bridgewater, and about the racial climate during the 1960’s in east central Illinois. 

We’re also joined by Sundiata Cha-Jua, an Associate Professor of History and African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign about the significance of the march in the context of the larger movement and about Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Did you know someone who marched in a protest during the 1960’s? Did you? What was it like to be a part of one? We want to hear from you this hour on Focus!

Categories: Civil Rights, History

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 07, 2013

McCollum v the Board of Education

It’s been 65 years since the US Supreme Court Case McCollum v Board of Education made Vashti McCollum of Champaign one of the most notorious atheists in the country. During this hour, host Jim Meadows talks with filmmaker Jay Rosenstein about his awarding winning documentary “The Lord Is Not On Trial Here Today” and Ken Paulson of the First Amendment Center about the case, it’s continuing implications and the now famous phrase “separation of church and state.”

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(Duration: 50:25)

James McCollum and his mother Vashti McCollum are pictured at a court hearing.

Jim Meadows talks with Professor of Journalism at the UIUC and filmmaker Jay Rosenstein about his Peabody and Emmy-Award winning documentary “The Lord is Not On Trial Here Today.” The film takes a never-before-seen look at a landmark First Amendment case that has become famous for the phrase “separation of church and state.” We’ll talk with Rosenstein about the case and how he went about researching and producing the film. Ken Paulson, former editor and Senior Vice President of News for USA Today and President and CEO of the First Amendment Center also joins the conversation.


WILL - Focus - January 09, 2013

Rainbow Illinois: A Survey of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender People in Central Illinois

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(Duration: 51:09)

Rainbow Flag With Illinois Outline

Attitudes towards and about the gay community are changing rapidly. At the ballot box this fall, voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington voted to support same sex marriage. Many organizations have anti-discrimination policies that include language regarding sexual orientation. Younger people seem more inclusive than previous generations when it comes to sexuality. And yet, there are still people in the gay community who feel they are not fully a part of the wider community around them. And there are those in that wider world who aren’t ready to accept gay people as full citizens.


WILL - Focus - December 27, 2012

Interview with Journalist Jose Antonio Vargas

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(Duration: 50:33)

Since the beginning of his career in journalism eight years ago, Jose Vargas has written hundreds of stories — including covering the 2008 presidential campaign for The Washington Post; profiling Al Gore for Rolling Stone and Mark Zuckerberg for The New Yorker; writing and producing a documentary on the AIDS epidemic in the nation's capital; and winning a Pulitzer Prize for helping cover the Virginia Tech massacre.  A little over a year ago, Vargas wrote a groundbreaking essay in the New York Times Sunday Magazine revealing his "undocumented immigrant" status.  Since then, he founded Define American and has worked to facilitate dialogue about the DREAM Act and immigration issues.

This is a repeat broadcast from Friday, October 26, 2012, 10 am


WILL - Focus - December 07, 2012

This Indian Country: American Indian Activists and the Place They Made

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(Duration: 50:30)

For years, Frederick Hoxie asked students to name three American Indians and almost universally, the names mentioned were the same: Geronimo, Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. Many Americans see Indians as occupying a position outside the central narrative of American history. It’s almost a given that Native history has no particular relationship to the conventional story of America. Indian history may be seen as short and sad, one that ended a long time ago.

In This Indian Country, Hoxie creates a counter-narrative; Native American history is also a story of political activism, with victories in courts and campaigns rather than on the battlefield. For more than two hundred years, Indian activists have sought to bridge the distance between their cultures and the republican democracy of the United States through legal and political debate. Over time their struggle defined a new language of “Indian rights” and created a vision of American Indian identity, engendering a dialogue with other activist movements.

Among the people discussed in “This Indian Country” is Sarah Winnemucca, who was the first American Indian woman to publish a book in the U-S. Follow the link below to read Winnemucca’s “Life Among the Piutes.”


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