WILL - Focus - July 05, 2013

Ryan Chalmers Finishes His Push Across America

University of Illinois graduate and paralymian Ryan Chalmers recently wrapped up his Push Across America tour, where he pushed himself across the country in his racing wheelchair in just over two months. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Ryan now that he’s done with the push.


(Duration: 51:34)

Ryan Chalmers pushes into New York City on the last leg of his Push Across America.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign grad, PADI divemaster and US Paralympian Ryan Chalmers has pushed himself nearly 3,000 miles over the course of the last few months in his racing wheelchair, journeying the length of three to four full length marathons every day. In a Ryan and his team pushing into Champaign May 22.campaign he called “Push Across America,” Ryan traveled  from Los Angeles, California to Central Park in New York City to raise awareness and money for programs to benefit people with disabilities. To start this hour of Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Chalmers about the trek now that he has finished his journey. Then, we’ll listen back to Jim’s interview with Ryan when he came through Champaign-Urbana in the middle of his push in late May.

(Pictured right: Ryan and his team push into Champaign May 22. Photo credit: Parker Feierbach) 

Categories: Sports

WILL - Focus - June 13, 2013

All the Babe’s Men

HOME RUN! We’ve all heard it announced over a loud speaker at a baseball game or are familiar with the phrase from popular culture, but hitting a home run wasn’t always so common in baseball. This hour on Focus, Jeff Bossert talks with author Eldon Ham about the history of the homerun and his new book “All the Babe’s Men.”


(Duration: 50:55)

Babe Ruth

“It’s a home run,” has become an expression many Americans use every day to describe success, even outside the world of baseball. But, have you ever wondered why? This hour on Focus, Jeff Bossert talks with Eldon Ham about America’s obsession with the home run and what sparked the development of the long ball in baseball. Ham tells us about how the home run became a fixture in the MLB by accident, and we’ll remember Babe Ruth’s historic sixty-homer season in 1927.

With several big hitters in the MLB being accused recently of more steroid use, we’ll also talk with Ham about how the homerun is connected to an era of professional doping.

Are you a baseball fan? Do you have a story about an epic home run? We want to hear from you this hour on Focus!

Categories: Sports

WILL - Focus - April 26, 2013

Jane Brody and Kathrine Switzer

This hour on Focus, we talk with two health and wellness icons. For the first half of this episode of Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with New York Times Personal Health columnist Jane Brody. Then, in the second half, he talks with Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to register for a bib number in the Boston Marathon. She’s this weekend’s guest legend runner for the Illinois Marathon.


(Duration: 51:02)

The 1967 Boston Marathon Race Commissioner trying to pull Kathrine from the race course.

Jane Brody is known for her writing on health, wellness and end of life preparation and care. Her Personal Health column in the New York Times is syndicated across the country and new every Tuesday. For the first half of this hour on Focus, Jim Meadows talks with Brody about her writing and career. She’ll be speaking at the UIUC Monday, April 29.

During the second half of this hour, Jim talks with Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to register for and run the Boston Marathon with a bib number. She’ll be in Champaign-Urbana for the Illinois Marathon. We’ll talk with her about her relationship with marathoning, the recent tragedy in Boston, and the famous photo of the 1967 Boston Marathon Race Commissioner trying to drag her from the race course.

Categories: Gender issues, Health, Sports

WILL - Focus - April 01, 2013

Play Ball!

Do you know the first president to throw an MLB opening day pitch? Did you know in 1907, there was an epic snowball fight at an opening day game in New York that determined the outcome? Starting today, Major League Baseball is officially in season, and this hour on Focus, we talked with John Thorn, the official historian of the MLB and Donald Spivey, who has spent his career studying Satchel Paige.


(Duration: 55:03)

Wrigley Field

In 1974 on opening day at Comiskey Park in Chicago, several naked fans rushed the field, disrupting the game and starting a riot in the stands; in 1907, the Phillies won a game against the New Your Giants because fans threw enough snowballs onto the field to force a forfeiture. Crazier things have happened.

This hour on Focus, John Thorn, Official Historian for Major League Baseball, joins guest host Jeff Bossert to talk about baseball history. We’ll talk about what Thorn does as MLB historian and what makes opening day so iconic  in American culture. Then, during the second half of the hour, Donald Spivey, a UIUC grad and a Professor of History at the University of Miami joins us to talk about pitching legend Satchel Paige. Spivey will be giving a lecture at Eastern Illinois University this evening about Paige and his legacy. Find more information here.

Do you love opening day? Why? Who are you rooting for this season? Join our conversation! Post in the comments section below or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter @Focus580.

Categories: Sports

WILL - Focus - March 29, 2013

Next Week on Focus: MLB Opening Day, Drones and The Lawyer Bubble

Do you love MLB Opening Day? Who’re you rooting for this season? Does the idea of drone technology scare you or excite you?  Find out more about what’s coming up next week on Focus and join our conversation.

Thursday on Focus, we'll talk about unmanned aerial vehicles.

Next week on Focus, we'll talk with the official historian for Major League Baseball and an Urbana man working with unmanned aerial technology for both journalistic purposes and to inspire high school students to study math and science. We'll also address the unmet need for homeless services in the area and talk about the growing disconnect between law schools and law firms in Illionis and why it matters. 

WILL - Focus - January 18, 2013

Steroids and Youth Sports


(Duration: 51:48)

Taylor Hooton smiling

Recently the Baseball Hall of Fame announced it will induct no one for the first time in more than a decade, a move many view as a statement against the use of steroids in professional sports. In addition, cyclist Lance Armstrong is now admitting to using performance enhancing drugs.

Categories: Health, Sports

WILL - Focus - October 25, 2012

Labor Disputes in Professional Sports


(Duration: 51:32)

Michael LeRoy, Professor, School of Labor & Employment Relations and College of Law, UIUC

Host: Craig Cohen

The National Hockey League is currently deep in a labor dispute that has led to the cancellation of some games, and could threaten the entire season. This fall, football fans were up in arms as the National Football League used replacement referees that botched a number of calls while the league negotiated a new contract with the regular refs. Last year, the NBA played a shortened season following a protracted dispute between the players and owners.

Why so much labor/management strife in professional sports, where the players are often millionaires and the owners billionaires, and everyone seems to be making money hand over fist? Who loses in these disputes? Do they reflect attitudes towards labor and management in society at large, or is this just a case of the very rich versus the super-rich? And, ultimately, why should we care?

We’ll discuss recent labor disputes in professional sports, and what, if anything, they tell us about today’s society, with Michael LeRoy, Professor in the School of Labor and Employment Relations and the College of Law at the University of Illinois.

Categories: Sports

WILL - Focus - July 11, 2012

Pay For Play: A History of Big-Time College Athletic Reform


(Duration: 55:01)

Ronald A. Smith, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Sports History, Penn State University

Host: David Inge

Intercollegiate athletics began in the U.S. in the 1850s, but it wasn’t long before people were talking about the need for reform. Penn State historian Ronald Smith says the story of big-time athletic reform is generally one of failure, in large part, because it ignores the one group that has a direct interest in reform--the faculty. We’ll go to the archives for a conversation with Ronald Smith, author of "Pay for Play," a book that explores the history of college athletic reform.

This is a repeat broadcast from Monday, February 06, 2012, 10 am

Categories: Education, Sports

WILL - Focus - July 09, 2012

The Game From Where I Stand: A Ballplayer’s Inside View


(Duration: 55:01)

Doug Glanville, Former Pro Athlete with the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, and Texas Rangers 1996-2004; "Heading Home" Columnist with The New York Times; ESPN Baseball Analyst

Host: Jeff Bossert

In his 2010 book, the former outfielder provides a human side of baseball, discussing issues many fans may not think of, among them:  leaving family when it’s time for spring training, being traded, prolonged losing streaks, suffering through an injury,  and dealing with different player personalities in the clubhouse.   

This is a repeat broadcast from Friday, July 29, 2011, 11 am

Categories: Sports

WILL - Focus - July 09, 2012

Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick


(Duration: 51:17)

We’ll explore the life and times of one of baseball’s most eccentric personalities, Bill Veeck. Many will remember him for all of the wacky things he did to get people to the ball park. But this one-time owner of the Chicago White Sox had a serious impact on the game, introducing innovations we now take for granted. He was also an early advocate for the inclusion of black players. Our guest will be Paul Dickson, author of the new biography "Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick."

This is a repeat broadcast from Friday, May 11, 2012, 10 am

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