Focus

WILL - Focus - February 27, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

Encore: Thieves of Book Row

The “goods” were kept under lock and key… and under special lighting… in the back room….

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(Duration: 51:45)

Travis McDade

During the 1920s, desperate and out of work due to the Great Depression, some people were willing to try anything to make a buck. That includes orchestrating a heist to lift a collection of rare books from a public library. 

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with University of Illinois Associate Professor Travis McDade about his book “Thieves of Book Row.”  He’ll tell us about Manhattan’s “Book Row,” a theft ring comprised of some of the most notorious literary criminals in U.S. history, the detectives who worked their case and about how much money they were actually making off the texts. McDade also talks about rare book collecting today and if books are as valuable today as they were in the early 1920s. 

Categories: Books and Reading

WILL - Focus - February 26, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

In Battle against Asian Carp, the culinary solution

Have you, or would you, eat Asian carp for dinner? 

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(Duration: 51:44)

bighead Asian carp

The Army Corp of engineers recently proposed a barrier to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. It would take more than two decades and billions of dollars to build. The time and money that would go into a project like that has long had some looking for other ways to control Asian carp populations. In Illinois, there has been a push to harvest Asian carp and market the fish as food. So far, fishermen and those trying to develop that industry have been met with skepticism.

Categories: Environment, Food

WILL - Focus - February 25, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

Republican Candidate for the 103rd District Kristin Williamson and primaries to keep an eye on

Democrats in the area are split about who to vote for in the March 19 primary election for the 103rd District race for State Representative, but on the republican side, Kristin Williamson is running unopposed. She joins Scott Cameron this hour on Focus. 

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(Duration: 51:38)

Naomi Jakobsson announced last fall that she would not be seeking reelection for her seat as state representative for the 103rd District in the Illinois House of Representatives. As the primary election draws closer, we’ve heard a lot from democratic candidates Carol Ammons and Sam Rosenberg. Kristin Williamson, the Republican vying for Jakobsson’s seat, will also be on the ballot and is running unopposed. She joins Scott Cameron for the first half of this hour on Focus.

Then, Tom Kacich, reporter for the News-Gazette, and Brian Mackey, statehouse reporter for Illinois Public Radio, join the show. We’ll talk about the race for the 103rd district and will find out about other primaries around the state that are worth paying attention to this spring.

Do you have questions for Kristin Williamson? Give us a call, tweet us @Focus580 or send us an email! 

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Focus - February 24, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

Downton Abbey: Portraying Post-Edwardian Life

Are you a Downton fan? What did you think of season 4? Today on Focus, we’ll talk about the show and why it has captivated millions of viewers. Historian Sharon Michalove also joins us to talk about how realistic the show’s depiction of Post- Edwardian life is. 

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(Duration: 51:26)

Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey is filmed

During the course of the last four seasons, Downton Abbey has become one of the most widely watched television shows in the US, captivating viewers with its portrayal of English life in the early 1900’s. The finale of season 4 of the show aired last night in the US, and today on Focus, host Jeff Bossert talks with television critic Dave Quinn and historian Sharon Michalove about what happened this season and if the show’s depiction of life post WWI in Britain bears any resemblance to real life.

Do you have questions about characters interactions on the show? Did you enjoy season 4 of the show as much as you enjoyed season 3? We welcome your calls and questions this hour on Focus!

Categories: Entertainment, History

WILL - Focus - February 21, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

Encore: What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine

Have you ever had a moment at work when you were so overwhelmed by how you felt, either for personal reasons or because of something that happened at work that it was hard for you to function? This hour on Focus, we'll listen back to a conversation about the intersection between human emotion, medicine and patient care.

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(Duration: 51:27)

Dr. Danielle Ofri

We’ve all seen the caricature of the unfeeling, cold-hearted, bitter doctor on cable television. Gregory House, after all, is not an exactly a model for compassion. Danielle Ofri argues in her newest book “What Doctors Feel:  How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine,” that the idea that doctors don’t have feelings, or that they can ignore those feelings, negatively affects patient care. This hour on Focus, we'll relisten to Lindsey Moon talking with Dr. Ofri about why that caricature developed and how it affects the way doctors practice medicine.

Categories: Health, Public Health, Science

WILL - Focus - February 20, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

Flyover Lives

Do you have a sense of your own history? What stereotypes about the Midwest do you agree or disagree with? Today on Focus, Lisa Bralts talks with Diane Johnson about her new memoir “Flyover Lives.” 

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(Duration: 50:05)

book cover

Over drinks at a dinner party, a French friend was frank with essayist and novelist Diane Johnson about her opinion of “Americans” and our sense of heritage. She described us as “indifferent.” Johnson disagreed, and a few years later, we have her response in the form of her new memoir “Flyover Lives.” She has a sense of her family’s history and a lot of other Americans, specifically Midwesterners, do too.

This hour on Focus, Lisa Bralts talks with Johnson about her upbringing in Moline, Illinois, and how that’s shaped her outlook on life. We’ll hear about how she traced her family back to the 18th century and learned more about her own family’s roots in Illinois while writing the book and will delve into perceptions of Midwesterners across the country, and across the globe.

Do you have a sense of your family’s history? How did you learn about it? Have you been accused of not knowing? We’d love to hear from you today on Focus!


WILL - Focus - February 19, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

Encore: The Lost Region

According to historian and author Jon Lauck, in comparison to the South, the far West and New England, the history of the American Midwest has been far overlooked in its importance. This hour on Focus, he talks with host Jim Meadows.

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(Duration: 49:30)

The American Midwest played a crucial role in the development of the US as a whole, helped spark a revolution of American manufacturing by producing food for urban centers and played a critical role in the Union victory of the Civil War. If you ask most historians about the Midwest, however, you might find yourself explaining all that.

This hour on Focus, we'll listen back to a conversation Jim Meadows had with Jon Lauck, author of the new book “The Lost Region: Toward a Revival of Midwestern History,” about the forgotten moments when the Midwest played a crucial part in US history. We’ll also hear about the vital role state and local historical societies have played in documenting history in the region.

Categories: History

WILL - Focus - February 18, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

Insect Fear Film Festival 31: Pesticide Fear Films

Today on Focus, we welcome back Professor May Berenbaum to talk about this year’s Insect Fear Film Festival. 

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(Duration: 50:58)

May Berenbaum with an insect

At this year’s Insect Fear Film Festival, May Berenbaum says she’s out to explore our complex relationship with pesticides. This hour on Focus, Scott Cameron talks with Berenbaum, professor of entomology and department head at the University of Illinois, about this year’s films, which include Riders of the Whistling Pines (1949), a film in which spraying DDT saves the day.

Berenbaum will also tell us more about new research linking pesticides to the decline in bee populations. Call us to join our conversation on Focus! 

Read more to see a full list of films at this year’s festival.


WILL - Focus - February 17, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

Encore: Urban Squirrels

We see squirrels every day in cities across Illinois, but squirrels didn’t always live in urban areas in such abundance. 

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(Duration: 51:14)

If you’ve spent time on the University of Illinois campus in Champaign-Urbana, you’ve likely noticed the squirrels… and their odd behavior. According to mammalian ecologist Ed Heske, they live on campus because in the early 1900’s, the UI allotted $125 dollars to introduce squirrels to campus to enhance interaction between its students and the natural world.

The idea that urban squirrels would be good for people living in cities, however, wasn’t unique to the University of Illinois; it was part of a much larger movement that swept the US starting on the East coast in the early 19th century. This hour on Focus, we'll listen back to a coversation Jim Meadows had with  and Assistant Professor of History at Pennsylvania University Etienne Benson. 


WILL - Focus - February 14, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

Gardening: Caring for cut flowers and bugs in the cold

This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about caring for cut flowers with horticulture expert Sandy Mason. We welcome your calls and questions!

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(Duration: 51:27)

cut flowers at Urbana's Market at the Square

It’s safe to assume that there will be lots of cut flowers exchanged today, we’ll talk with University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator Sandy Mason about how to prevent them from wilting. She’ll also tell us about new miniature potted plants that are becoming popular as gifts.

Do you have questions about caring for your lawn or garden? Thinking about getting ready for spring planting? We want to hear from you on Focus!


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