US Army Captain Luis Montalván was a highly decorated member of the US military when he returned home from two tours of duty in Iraq. The trauma he encountered overseas, however, started to take its toll as he settled back into his life stateside. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Montalván about his struggle to return to civilian life after his time in the service and how Capt. Montalván’s relationship with his service dog “Tuesday,” restored him both psychologically and spiritually.
Storytelling is an art, but telling scary stories is a skill all its own. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with two people intimately involved with what it means to craft and share a tale meant to thrill, surprise and terrorize.
For the first half of this hour on Focus, Camille Born joins host Jim Meadows to talk about the history behind Champaign-Urbana’s ghost stories. According to some, there’s a blue ghost who haunts Clements Cemetery in Urbana and the spirit of a former police officer killed during prohibition lingers in downtown Champaign. Then, we’ll hear from Illinois native and fiction author Brandon Massey about writing horror stories. Meadows also talks with Massey about his forthcoming novel "In the Dark."
Born is hosting walking tours for the Orpheum Children's Science Museum as a part of their "After Dark" series where she tells several ghost stories on location in Champaign, and the University of Illinois' Spulock Museum is also hosting a ghost story event this weekend. Find more information here.
Read more to see a video of Camille telling a story not heard on air in our studios!
Mary Beth Neebel left her job in the corporate world to start a small, independent bookstore in May 2006, and she’s never looked back. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Neebel about her store’s local author book signing series. She invites authors who write about central Illinois or are from this part of the state to do readings at “I Know You Like A Book,” her store based in Peoria Heights, Illinois. We’ll find out about some exciting titles that are new this fall. Kelly Strom, collections manager at the Champaign Public Library, also joins us. She’s got a long list of new titles out this fall that she’s excited to tell us about and has a few recommendations for readers of any age.
Continue reading for a book list!
Kim Stanley Robinson’s interest in science fiction all started with an orange grove. When he was young, he says he watched southern California suffer what he calls “future shock,” – a process by which the natural landscape was rapidly replaced with apartment buildings and roads. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Robinson about how this inspires his writing.
We’ll also talk with Robinson about his Mars Trilogy that depicts a society where people have colonized Mars to escape overpopulation and ecological disaster on Earth. We’ll hear how he imagined life on Mars and how he deals with questions of plausibility as he writes about future time.
University of Illinois Assistant Professor Carol Tilley has always felt strongly that kids need comics. And she’s not the only one. This hour on Focus, we’ll listen back to a conversation with Tilley about how comics played a huge role in her childhood and why she thinks it’s so upsetting that they are less widely available and more expensive than they once were. Award-winning graphic novelist and nationally syndicated cartoonist Josh Elder also joins us. He’s creating a new series of graphic textbooks for elementary and middle school teachers. We’ll talk with him and Tilley about what sets comics apart and why they’re useful in the classroom.
Do you love comics? Have you ever learned anything from them? Maybe you oppose the idea of teaching comic books… Tell us your story!
Illinois State University English Professor Emeritus Curtis White has spent much of his career writing fiction, but he’s recently released his newest book “The Science Delusion,” a non-fiction work devoted to investigating the way we think about the intersection between science and religion. This hour on Focus, Jack Brighton talks with White about what the two camps can learn from each other. Can science resolve our questions about the origins of the universe, the basis of morality and the source of creativity? Is it wrong to say science can’t?
This hour on Focus, we also talk about “scientism,” atheism, and religion’s influence on scientific research. Do you have faith in the unseen? Or do you have to see it to believe it? We want to hear from you this hour! Tweet us @Focus580 or find the show on Facebook.
White is also author of the book “Memories of My Father Watching TV and Requiem. His Book, “The Middle Mind: Why American Don’t Think for Themselves” was an international best-seller and his essays have appeared in Harper’s Magazine, Orion and Playboy.
In her new book 'The Humanity Project,” Urbana based author Jean Thompson confronts circumstances and questions plaguing many in the US in a post-recession era. This hour on Focus, we’ll listen back to a conversation Jim Meadows had with Thompson about her new novel, what inspired the story and why it was a story we wanted to tell.
This hour we'll meet Sean, a wayward carpenter whose bad luck turns even worse; Linnea, who has survived a school shooting and is living in California with a father she barely knows, and Mrs. Foster, a wealthy cat lady who starts "the Humanity Project" to help out a few whose luck has run out.
Former Saturday Night Live cast member Julia Sweeney is known for both her infamous character “Pat” and her solo performances. Since her days on SNL, she’s toured as a one woman show exploring love, cancer, family and faith in “God Said Ha!,” “In the Family Way” and “Letting Go of God.” In her most recent book, “If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother,” she confronts parenting and what it was like for her as a single woman to adopt her daughter, Mulan. This hour on Focus, we’re listening back to a conversation she had with Jim Meadows about the book and the embroidered pillow that inspired it.
We also talk with her about “Pat” and her career as a comedian and performer.
What services do you expect from your public library? Do you want a library to be like a book store, with only newer books and lots of cutting edge technology, or would you rather have a library with extensive collections of books published across several decades? This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Carol Tilley and Kathryn La Barre of the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science about the challenges public libraries face as many make the transition into the digital age.
In a recent article in the Atlantic, senior editor Hanna Rosin wrote about her experiences as a mother and the pressure she feels to limit her children’s screen time. This hour on Focus, guest host Chris Berube talks with Hanna about her experiences with electronics and educational media as a parent. We’ll also talk with David Bickham, who is a researcher at the Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children’s Hospital about how much screen time is recommended, how to make the most out of that time and what the dangers are of too much screen time.