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 - April 25, 2014

Unmet Needs: “Folk Wisdom” about health perpetuates stereotypes

Talking about mental health and mental illness is hard; sometimes it awkward. Most of the time it’s uncomfortable. Should it be?


(Duration: 15:35)

Joey Ramp and her ex-husband in WILL's studios.

Joey Ramp gets uncomfortable in large crowds of people. New places also make her uneasy. It’s her service dog, Theo, and her highly regimented schedule that helps her handle her anxiety and cope with her post-traumatic stress disorder. Theo is always with her, and since her disability isn’t visible, she says people are curious. Sometimes they ask; sometimes they don’t. “Most often, when people ask and I say I have PTSD, people want to thank me for my service.”

That makes it awkward for Ramp to explain that she never served in the military.

WILL - Focus - April 18, 2014

Life Itself: director Steve James and Chaz Ebert on the new documentary about Roger Ebert

During this Focus interview, Jeff Bossert talks with Steve James and Chaz Ebert about capturing the life of a critic on film.  


(Duration: 50:26)

Flm critic Roger Ebert in Chicago in 2005

After he lost his voice, some say film critic Roger Ebert became an even better writer, pouring all his efforts into movie reviews and other columns. As he further mastered his craft, legendary writer, historian, actor and broadcaster Studs Terkel sent him a note about his ‘new’ voice. “This – what you write now, it’s more than about movies. Yes, it’s about the movies but there is something added. A new REFLECTION on life itself.”

Those last words became the title for Roger Ebert’s 2011 memoir, and is now the title of a new documentary about his life. Steven Zailian, screenwriter for ‘Schindler’s List” among other films, first approached director Steve James (Hoop Dreams, 2005) in late 2012 about the project. When James first met with Chaz and Roger about the direction the film would take, no one could have predicted he would pass away just five months later.

During this Focus interview, Jeff Bossert talks with filmmaker Steve James and Chaz Ebert about capturing Roger’s life, and his death, on film. 

WILL - Focus - February 28, 2014

The 86th Academy Awards

The Oscars are the most-watched film award show; how do they influence the industry?


(Duration: 51:50)

For nearly a century, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been hosting the Oscars. For just as long, the awards have influenced marketing, distribution, taste and conversations within the movie industry. But not everyone agrees completely about how meaningful the awards are. Austin McCann, the general manager for the Art Theater Co-op in Champaign, says that he doesn’t put much faith in the Oscars’ ability to select what he considers to be a good film.

Nationally, the Oscars are just one part of an interconnected series of film festivals and awards shows around the world, says Erik Childress, film critic for WGN and contributor to He closely watches and analyzes the awards season each year. This hour on Focus, host Jeff Bossert talks with both McCann and Childress about the influence of the Oscars and their favorite films this year (Oscar-nominated or not).

What were your favorites this year? Were you able to see them all? This hour, Bossert will talk with McCann about how the Art selects films for the theater long before they become Oscar nominees. 

WILL - Focus - February 05, 2014

Preserving heirlooms and treasures from the past

Do you have an antique or a photo album that has been in your family for generations? How do you preserve those things to ensure they’ll last?


(Duration: 49:38)

We spend lots of time caring for artifacts from the past and are always looking for new ways to improve techniques for preserving the history found in our photographs, books and other heirlooms. There are entire industries built on preserving photos in scrapbooks or in digital slideshows, and there are museums and historical societies caring for everything from old pieces of clothing to handwritten letters and books. On an individual level, we all have things that are important enough to invest that kind of energy in caring for, but how do you go about doing so?

WILL - Focus - February 03, 2014

New Leaders: A Black History Month Special

Today - State of the Re:Union special shines the spotlight on the next generaton of grassroots leaders in the African American community.

Usually during Black History Month, we remember Civil Rights icons and reflect on their legacy.  But over the past couple of years, State of the Re:Union has met a new generation of African American leaders, people you may not see on TV specials or making nationally acclaimed speeches. Most of these men and women are on the front lines of their communities, rolling up their selves and diving in to what can be very unglamorous work. In this episode, State of the Re:Unionwould like to introduce you to this group of leaders and what they’re accomplishing in their various corners of America.

We are sorry we are unavailable to provide a podcast for this hour. 

Categories: Community

WILL - Focus - January 29, 2014

Women On the Internet: Welcome but not welcome?

This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about technology is changing the conversation about sexism. 


(Duration: 51:52)

people working at computers in a library

Sunday evening when University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise emailed the campus to say that classes would indeed be held despite a predicted below zero temperature with windchills reaching into the double digits, the internet became a way for students to voice their discontent. Within hours, a Twitter hashtag joking about the cold turned into a sexist and racist attack on the Chancellor herself. During this hour on Focus, Scott Cameron talks with Amanda Hess, author of the recent article “Why Aren’t Women Welcome on the Internet” about her experiences with the kind of verbal abuse directed at Chancellor Wise. Hess also talks about the University’s nonresponse to the incident.

Then, host Jim Meadows talks with Kate Clancy, an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois. She blogs for the Scientific American about “human behavior, evolutionary medicine…..and ladybusiness” and recently wrote about the current plight of women in academia. She says the kinds of backhandedness that happens online translates into real life consequences. Emily Graslie, the producer and host of the Field Museum’s behind-the-scenes science vlog “The Brain Scoop,” also joins the show. Her recent post “Where My Ladies At?” questions whether more women would pursue careers in science if they were met with a different kind of judgment from men in the field.

Categories: Community, Gender issues

WILL - Focus - January 22, 2014

Conceal and carry law now in effect

Illinois new conceal and carry law took effect January 1. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about what citizens who aren’t gun owners can expect from people who will soon be concealing a loaded weapon on their person.


(Duration: 51:42)

A handgun is on display during a seminar on gun violence in Springfield, Ill.

Concealed Carry permits are being approved by the Illinois State Police and could start being mailed soon. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about who will be carrying a gun and what kind of training the state requires before they’ll issue a permit. Champaign County Sheriff Dan Walsh and concealed carry instructor John Boch join host Jim Meadows to start this hour on Focus. We’ll hear about how the application review process is working out in Champaign county and will hear what kind of training you can expect people with concealed carry permits to have.

Then, police departments and citizens who want a license to conceal and carry aren’t the only ones who’ve been getting ready for the new law. Private Security Consultant Tim Sutton says he’s been working with hospitals and churches addressing security concerns posed by the new law.

Did you apply for a conceal and carry license? Why do you want one? Now that conceal and carry is a reality in Illinois, do you feel safer or not? Give us a call this hour on Focus or find us on Facebook and Twitter @Focus580

Categories: Community, Law

WILL - Focus - January 08, 2014

Raising the Minimum Wage

The minimum wage in Illinois is $8.25. Should it be higher?


(Duration: 49:59)

Rachel Warren is 21 and says that she “makes it work” supporting herself by working two jobs for minimum wage, one in Champaign and one in Urbana. If she had to support someone else, however, she says that just wouldn’t be feasible. Gov. Pat Quinn has been pushing for an increase to Illinois minimum wage, which is already a dollar higher than the federal standard. If the state mandated a wage increase for people like Warren, she says even a dollar more an hour would make a substantial difference in her monthly budget.
This hour on focus, we’ll hear from Warren and will talk about the pros and cons of raising the minimum wage and the arguments for and against doing so. Bob Bruno, Professor of Labor and Employment Relations at the University of Illinois at Chicago and James Sherk, a Senior Policy Analyst in Labor Economics at the Heritage Foundation join us.
Do you or have you ever worked for minimum wage? Are you a small business owner who would be affected by a potential wage increase? Post in the comments section below!

Categories: Community, Economics, Politics

WILL - Focus - November 22, 2013

Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Rita Garman, and Controlling Chaos

This hour on Focus, Jim Meadows talks with Illinois new Supreme Court Chief Justice Rita Garman, then we'll talk with Jack Rozdilsky, who researches the aftermath of natural disasters to try and make the recovery more efficient.


(Duration: 51:34)

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Rita Garman

Illinois new Supreme Court Chief Justice Rita Garman has been head of the state’s high court for almost a month now. During the first half of this hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Garman, who lives in Danville, about what it took for her to get there. We’ll also ask Garman about her views on cameras in the court room, and about her work to create a committee on child custody issues for the state’s supreme court.

Then on the second half of this episode of Focus, Jack Rozdilsky joins host Jim Meadows. Rozdilsky is a professor at Western Illinois University who teaches and researches what strategies make emergency management most effective. We’ll talk with him about how to orchestrate a recovery and how to teach someone to control chaos.

Categories: Community, Law

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