WILL - Focus - March 22, 2013

Coming up on Focus: Remembering Assembly Hall, Idioms and Stargazing

Are you fascinated by the stars? What is your fondest memory of Assembly Hall? How have our concerns about terrorism changed in the last decade?  Find out more about what’s coming up on Focus and join our conversation.

Assembly Hall

Coming up next week on Focus, we'll talk with one of the most well-respected researchers studying terrorism, an authority on idioms in the English language and with journalist Fred Kroner about his new book "A Saucer Coming to Rest, A Half Century of Assembly Hall." Find our more about what's coming up. 

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.

WILL - Focus - February 05, 2013

Outside Influence

Does offering incentives like money or candy motivate kids to perform better in school? Is the new Illinois cigarette tax really helping to deter people from smoking? Today on Focus, we'll talk about what influences behavior....and what doesn't. Join our conversation on Facebook and Twitter.


(Duration: 50:36)


Is the new Illinois cigarette tax really helping to deter people from smoking? Would a ban on sugary drinks and soda really help curb the obesity epidemic? Does offering incentives like money or candy motivate children to perform better in school? This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about what influences our behavior. We'll delve into the idea of a “sin” tax, why we use them and if they have an impact on our decisions with Professor of Economics at the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the UIUC Fred Giertz. Edward Deci, a Professor of Psychology and Social Sciences at the University of Rochester, also joins the program to answer questions about peer pressure, money as a motivator, stereotypes and how the world around us affects how we act and the decisions we make.

Should parents offer kids incentives to do well in school? Do you? Does it work? Join our conversation on Facebook and Twitter

WILL - Focus - January 28, 2013

Christian America and the Kingdom of God


(Duration: 50:48)

book jacket of the Christian America book

This hour on Focus, we’ll consider the notion of America as a Christian nation, as we talk with Dr. Richard Hughes, a Professor of Religion at Messiah College. He explores this concept in his book Christian America and the Kingdom of God. In it, Hughes considers how religious and political leaders have historically used this belief to reinforce a sort of messianic nationalism, characterizing the United States as God’s “chosen nation” – a view Hughes holds has led to an increase in power and influence among fundamentalist Christians, but has ironically led to unchristian behavior.

WILL - Focus - January 25, 2013

Violence and Video Games


(Duration: 50:47)

People playing a video game

Do gory and graphic video games really affect behavior? How did games get to be so violent in the first place? This hour on Focus, host Craig Cohen talks with Craig Anderson, a professor at Iowa State University and the Director of the Center for Study of Violence about what the research shows us about the connection between violence and video games.

WILL - Focus - January 07, 2013

Political Discourse in America


(Duration: 51:44)

January 7 is the 14th anniversary of the beginning of President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial in the U-S Senate. He was the first president to be impeached by the House since Andrew Johnson in 1868. It was a major political development dissected, moment by moment, by 24 hour news channels and talk radio. Politicians and pundits alike spoke in ever coarser tones about the issues surrounding the trial. And our political discourse hasn’t exactly improved since then. In fact, we saw moments when the major players in the so-called fiscal cliff negotiations, just over the last week or two, struggled to communicate effectively with one another. We’ll consider what it might take to raise the level of discourse in our politics – and whether major issues and ideas can be debated thoughtfully and respectfully by people with wildly divergent views. We’ll also explore what led to the coarsening of our political discourse particularly in the last 20 years, and whether our perception that it was more respectful in the past is really true.

WILL - Focus - December 28, 2012

Exploring JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit


(Duration: 51:33)

This September marked the 75th anniversary of the publication of JRR Tolkien's novel The Hobbit. An estimated 100 million copies of the book have been sold since its publication, but interest in The Hobbit sees no signs of abating, as the first of a trilogy of Hobbit films by Peter Jackson opens this December. Author Corey Olsen, who produces a podcast called The Tolkien Professor, feels that The Hobbit has lived far too long in the shadow of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings books. His idea is to turn attention back to what he calls "this brilliant little book." Olsen is an Assistant Professor of English at Washington College in Maryland and the President and founder of the Mythgard Institute, a new online teaching center for the study of Tolkien and other works of imaginative literature.

This is a repeat broadcast from Tuesday, November 06, 2012, 10 am

WILL - Focus - December 18, 2012

A Disability History of the United States


(Duration: 51:22)

An estimated one out of every five Americans has been diagnosed with one or more psychological or physical disabilities. That makes disabled Americans one of our largest minorities. And yet, most of our history books pay little notice to the role the disabled have played in our nation’s past. We’ll discuss the contributions of the disabled to our laws, policies, economics, popular culture, and collective identity, with Kim Nielsen, author of A Disability History of the United States.

WILL - Focus - December 17, 2012

Gun Violence


(Duration: 51:59)

Our show will be dedicated to the subject of gun violence after Friday’s shocking Connecticut school shooting. We’ll look at how the shooting may impact America’s conversations about guns and safety. We'll also discuss the recent court ruling striking down Illinois’ concealed carry ban, and what it means for the future of gun laws in Illinois. And we'll welcome your thoughts - about what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary, about what it says about our society, and about what, if anything, it tells us about our feelings towards guns. Guests will include Richard Pearson, director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, and Jerry Belair of Stop Handgun Violence, an organization promoting gun safety.

WILL - Focus - December 12, 2012

Games Without Rules: The Often Interrupted History of Afghanistan


(Duration: 51:18)

Portrait of Tamim Ansary and Book Jacket for Games Without Rules

Born in 1948, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tamim Ansary is a writer, lecturer, editor, and teacher based in San Francisco.  He directs the San Francisco Writer’s Workshop, teaches through the Osher Institute, and writes fiction and nonfiction about Afghanistan, Islam-and-the-West, democracy, current events, social issues, and as he says, "my cat, and other topics as they come up."

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