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 …
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!
Have you been to a pick your own apple orchard or tried to solve a corn maze at a local orchard or farm? Why did you go, and would you go back? What did you like or dislike about visiting? This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about farms as tourist destinations.
With their corn mazes, farms like Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch and Curtis Orchard draw thousands of visitors each year. But Curtis Orchard wasn’t always an orchard and Mark and Julie Hardy’s reindeer ranch wasn’t always a place you could visit. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Randy Graham of Curtis Orchard and Mark Hardy of Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch about why they wanted to be able to invite people to visit their farms. We’ll also talk with them about how they build and plan for their corn mazes, one of their biggest draws this time of year.
Illinois Pioneers returned to WILL-TV last week…with David Inge as host. This hour on Focus, Jim Meadows talks with David about the show.
This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Inge about his new gig and about his life and career as a public broadcaster. We’ll hear about some of the upcoming interviews he’ll host on WILL-TV, and we’ll talk with him about his days as host of Focus, how he got started as a public broadcaster and what it’s like to talk with some of the most powerful and respected names in Illinois history.
WILL Producer George Hovorka also joins us for the first half of this hour on Focus to tell us more about Illinois Pioneers.
Monticello been called “the patent medicine capital of the world,” and is home to the famous Allerton Park. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with author Maureen Holtz about the town’s history…in pictures. Then, we’ll talk with former Mayor Dannel McCollum about his book “Remembering Champaign County.”
This hour on Focus, we’ll take a look through into history through the lens of a camera. Maureen Holtz, author of the new book “Images of America: Monticello” joins us to talk about some of the things that make Monticello’s history so rich. We’ll talk with her about the pepsin syrup factory that earned the town the title “patent medicine capital of the world,” and how she went about compiling the town’s history dating back to the 1800’s in authentic photos.
Then during the second half of this hour on Focus, Dannel McCollum, former Mayor of Champaign and author of “Remembering Champaign County” joins us. We’ll talk with him about March Madness on campus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Benjamin Franklin Harris, entrepreneur extraordinaire. Host Jim Meadows also talks with Dannel about the county’s first convicted murderer who was defended by Abraham Lincoln.
The weeding of thousands of non-fiction books at the Urbana Free Library has created controversy over transparency in libraries. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about how libraries are curated, what role they play in community and some of the challenges they face due to strained government budgets.
What services do you expect from your public library? Do you want a library to be like a book store, with only newer books and lots of cutting edge technology, or would you rather have a library with extensive collections of books published across several decades? This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Carol Tilley and Kathryn La Barre of the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science about the challenges public libraries face as many make the transition into the digital age.
The dog days of summer are here… It would be so nice to get away. Sadly, that’s not always an option. Never fear! This hour on Focus, we talk about things to do in the area that will make you feel like you’re on vacation, even if you’re in your own backyard.
This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows explores East Central Illinois…from the perspective of a tourist. Sue Post, author of Hiking Illinois, will be here to tell us about some scenic, and maybe unexpected, places in the area to enjoy the outdoors and will talk with us about what makes hiking in Illinois unique. We’ll also talk with her about native wildlife of note.
Then during the second half of the hour, we’ll talk with Heather Wilkins, Director for the Land of Lincoln Regional Tourism Office, about Illinois trails. These Trails don’t have much to do with hiking, but they’re just as scenic. We’ll talk about where you can go to visit everything from Illinois’ most historic drive-in movie theatres to the oldest soda fountains and the world’s largest golf tee and covered wagon.
What are your favorite places to go or things to do to “get away” while staying in the area? We want to hear from you this hour on Focus!
This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with former WILL meteorologist Ed Kieser about summer storms and tornado preparedness. We welcome your calls and questions!
One of the deadliest tornadoes to come through the Midwest in years has left a trail of destruction and death in Moore, Oklahoma. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with former WILL meteorologist Ed Kieser about tornadoes, when they form, how they form and when they become dangerous. We’ll also talk with him about the strange weather patterns we’ve been having in the Midwest – from drought to damaging floods and summer weather preparedness.
Have you ever been bitten by a dog or another animal? This hour on Focus, we talk about preventing aggressive pet behavior.
Each year in the US, more than 4 million people are bitten by a dog, and one in five of those people require medical attention. This week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week, and this hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Sally Foote, a small animal vet from Tuscola who specializes in dog and cat behavior about aggressive pets and how to prevent children from getting bit on accident. We’ll also talk about ticks and fleas as the heat of summer is almost here. We welcome your questions no matter what breed you love and care for!
Read more and find a video about dogs, why they bite and how to avoid getting bit.
Ryan Chalmers is attempting to push himself across the country from Los Angeles to New York in 71 days…in a wheelchair. This hour on Focus, we talk with Chalmers about why he’s doing it and how it’s going.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign grad, PADI divemaster and US Paralympian Ryan Chalmers has pushed himself more than 2,000 miles in the last few weeks, journeying the length of three to four full length marathons every day. He’s trying to cross the US in his racing wheelchair in 71 days, a distance of nearly 3,000 miles. He arrived in Champaign around 3:00 on Wednesday, and this hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Ryan about his trek and what inspired him to do it. We'll also talk with Ryan about his career as a wheelchair athlete - at the UIUC, in marathons around the country and the 2012 Paralympic games in London.
Read more to see a video about why Ryan's pushing himself across the country.
This hour on Focus, we’re going to T.A.L.K. about kids with Baby TALK Founding Executive Director Claudia Quigg about the Baby TALK model, her organization and her new book.
Claudia Quigg founded Baby TALK in the late 1980’s in Decatur after having children of her own and realizing that even though she had a supportive group of friends, she needed advice and access to resources. Today the organization has a presence in 36 states and Canada and has more than 100 programs in operation in Illinois communities. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Claudia about why the earliest years of life, from birth to age 3, are so important and what resources her organization provides in East Central Illinois. We’ll also talk about the memories and lessons she’s taken away from working with families for more than three decades and about her new book "Let's Talk Kids: Becoming a Family."
Claudia writes a weekly column for the Decatur Herald-Review and has a weekly radio segment that airs on NPR member station WUIS in Springfield at 7:55 on Thursday mornings.
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