charles wheelan
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February 13, 2013

Naked Statistics

Are 65.4 percent of statistics made up on the spot? Today on Focus, Craig Cohen talked with author Charles Wheelan about his new book "Naked Statistics." Find the podcast here.


January 08, 2013

The Pension Situation in Illinois

On today's show, we turn our attention to the history of and issues surrounding Illinois’ pension debt. We’ll talk about how our state found its way into such a massive debt obligation, some of the issues lawmakers are working through right now in Springfield, and what might ultimately be the best way forward to meet that debt and sustain the state’s public pension system.


December 04, 2012

Growing Up In Poverty

Nearly one out of every five children in Illinois is growing up in poverty, and in more than half of Illinois' counties, 1 out of every 4 kids experiences food insecurity. Nationwide, childhood poverty costs the country $500 billion a year, or 4 percent of GDP. In addition to the economic costs, there are high personal costs: children growing up in poverty face ongoing psychosocial stress that affects their health and development, from high blood pressure and impaired immune functioning to deteriorated connections in the brain. We’ll explore the effects of poverty on children, and what can be done to ameliorate those effects.


November 01, 2012

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

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


August 17, 2012

The Accordian Family: Boomerang Kids, Anxious Parents, and the Private Toll of Global Competition

Katherin S. Newman, Ph.D., James B. Knapp Dean of the Zanvyl Kieger School of Arts and Sciences, Johns Hopkins University

Host: David Inge

In the U.S. and in other affluent nations, growing numbers of young adults in their 20s and 30s are living with their parents. Sociologist Katherine Newman says that while this kind of doubling-up has long been seen in families that were less well-off, the middle class has never before needed to provide a long-term economic safety net for their grown children. We’ll explore this change with Katherine Newman, author of "The Accordion Family." The book looks at the ways global economic conditions have redefined family life.

This is a repeat broadcast from Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 10 am


August 16, 2012

American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company

Bryce Hoffman, Award-Winning Journalist

Host: David Inge

At the end of 2008, Ford Motor Company was running on empty. In an effort to save the American auto industry, Congress offered a bailout. GM and Chrysler took the money, but Ford decided to save itself. The company did it by hiring an outsider, Alan Mulally. It turned out to be a very good hire. By early 2010, it was clear Ford had pulled off one of the most amazing turnarounds in history. We’ll get the story from our guest, Bryce Hoffman, author of "American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company."

This is a repeat broadcast from Wednesday, June 27, 2012, 10 am


August 06, 2012

Money Well Spent? The Truth Behind the Trillion-Dollar Stimulus, the Biggest Economic Recovery Plan

Michael Grabell, Journalist

Host: David Inge

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, commonly known as “the stimulus,” was the biggest economic recovery plan in history.  It’s estimated to have created or saved millions of jobs, although it did not  bring about a strong, sustainable recovery. So was it a success, or a failure? Our guest will be Michael Grabell, a reporter at ProPublica and author of the new book "Money Well Spent." The book attempts to answer the question: Was, in fact, the taxpayers' money well spent?

This is a repeat broadcast from Wednesday, February 01, 2012, 11 am


August 01, 2012

The New Geography of Jobs

Enrico Moretti Ph.D., the Michael Peevey and Donald Vial Career Development Chair in Labor Economics, Department of Economics, University of California, Berkeley

Host: David Inge

Economist Enrico Moretti says that today there are three Americas. At one extreme are those cities with a strong innovation sector; at the other, cities once dominated by traditional manufacturing in the middle are cities that could go either way. And where you live, as well as who you are, will determine how successful you will be in the economy of tomorrow. We explore "The New Geography of Jobs"  with Enrico Moretti from the University of California at Berkeley.

This is a repeat broadcast from Thursday, May 24, 2012, 11 am


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