WILL - Focus - November 20, 2013

Rebuilding after a tornado

Now that the clean-up has begun and the damage is being assessed in communities stricken by this weekend’s tornadoes, we’ll talk this hour about what it’s like to rebuild.


(Duration: 51:36)

Mary Sutherlin looks at what's left of her home Tuesday, November 19 in Gifford.

Mary Sutherlin has spent the last few days working with her neighbors and her husband to clean up what’s left of her home. She says when the tornado struck her hometown of Gifford on Sunday, she and her husband and 11 year-old grandchild barely made it into the back room before the tornado blew away most of her neighborhood. For the first half of this hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Sutherlin about what’s next and how she’s handling rebuilding and clean-up. Champaign County Emergency Management Agency Spokesman Rick Atterberry also joins us.

Then, Jim Gilliland, former mayor of Ogden, Illinois joins us. He says when a tornado struck the town of around 700 people in late April of 1996, both the damage and the idea that he was a key decision maker was overwhelming. We’ll talk with him about how the community came together and started to pick up the pieces in the weeks and months following the storm.

Categories: Community

WILL - Focus - November 06, 2013

Architect Michael Sorkin

What will cities look like in 10 years? According to architect Michael Sorkin, they'll look how we want them to...


(Duration: 51:16)

Michael Sorkin

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with renowned architect, architecture critic, author and teacher Michael Sorkin about his work with design on the city level. Will some of the redevelopment that's happened as the US pulls out of the recession, like what has happened in New York City for example, continue? What's the best way to continue to stimulate that redevelopment and growth? During this interview, Sorkin talks about the redevelopment of cities and the trend away from people living in suburbia. Meadows also talks with him about transportation and why more and more people are utilizing public buses and trains.

He’s speaking on campus at the University of Illinois Thursday, November 7 at 7:00 p.m. in the Plym Auditorium in Temple Buell Hall and will be delivering a lecture, “The City After Now.”

Categories: Community

WILL - Focus - October 24, 2013

Haunted Champaign-Urbana and Illinois author Brandon Massey on writing horror fiction

He was found hanging in a nearby tree in the 1840’s, and now, if you venture out to the cemetery at night, you’ll be visited by a blue orb. Or so the story goes … 


(Duration: 51:26)

The Orpheum Children's Science Museum's theatre is said to be haunted by the spirit of a past projection booth operator.

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!

WILL - Focus - September 25, 2013

Agri-Tourism a Boon for Central Illinois Farms

Have you been to a pick your own apple orchard or tried to solve a corn maze at a local orchard or farm? Why did you go, and would you go back? What did you like or dislike about visiting? This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about farms as tourist destinations.


(Duration: 51:33)

visitors at Curtis Orchard

With their corn mazes, farms like Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch and Curtis Orchard draw thousands of visitors each year. But Curtis Orchard wasn’t always an orchard and Mark and Julie Hardy’s reindeer ranch wasn’t always a place you could visit. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Randy Graham of Curtis Orchard and Mark Hardy of Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch about why they wanted to be able to invite people to visit their farms. We’ll also talk with them about how they build and plan for their corn mazes, one of their biggest draws this time of year.

Categories: Agriculture, Community, Travel

WILL - Focus - September 10, 2013

David Inge

Illinois Pioneers returned to WILL-TV last week…with David Inge as host. This hour on Focus, Jim Meadows talks with David about the show.


(Duration: 49:35)

Host David Inge with Lou Henson

This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with Inge about his new gig and about his life and career as a public broadcaster. We’ll hear about some of the upcoming interviews he’ll host on WILL-TV, and we’ll talk with him about his days as host of Focus, how he got started as a public broadcaster and what it’s like to talk with some of the most powerful and respected names in Illinois history.

WILL Producer George Hovorka also joins us for the first half of this hour on Focus to tell us more about Illinois Pioneers. 

Categories: Community

WILL - Focus - August 02, 2013

Pet Care: Ticks

This summer in Illinois, we’re seeing an increase in the tick population. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with veterinarian Sally Foote about what that means for your pet. We welcome your questions this hour on Focus!


(Duration: 51:16)

Morkie puppy

Ticks spread diseases that can be a threat to both your pet’s health and to yours. So far this summer, there’s been an increase in Illinois’ tick population, and this hour on Focus, we welcome veterinarian Sally Foote. She’ll be here to talk with host Jim Meadows about the species of ticks that live in Illinois, what diseases they spread and how to protect your pet from them. We’ll also talk about the best ways to remove a tick from your dog or cat. Of course, we also welcome your questions no matter what breed or species you love and care for.

Categories: Animals, Community

WILL - Focus - June 27, 2013

Images of America: Monticello and Remembering Champaign County

Monticello been called “the patent medicine capital of the world,” and is home to the famous Allerton Park. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with author Maureen Holtz about the town’s history…in pictures. Then, we’ll talk with former Mayor Dannel McCollum about his book “Remembering Champaign County.”


(Duration: 51:34)

Two men stand in front of the Pepin Syrup Company in the 1920’s.

This hour on Focus, we’ll take a look through into history through the lens of a camera. Maureen Holtz, author of the new book “Images of America: Monticello” joins us to talk about some of the things that make Monticello’s history so rich. We’ll talk with her about the pepsin syrup factory that earned the town the title “patent medicine capital of the world,” and how she went about compiling the town’s history dating back to the 1800’s in authentic photos.

Then during the second half of this hour on Focus, Dannel McCollum, former Mayor of Champaign and author of “Remembering Champaign County” joins us. We’ll talk with him about March Madness on campus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Benjamin Franklin Harris, entrepreneur extraordinaire. Host Jim Meadows also talks with Dannel about the county’s first convicted murderer who was defended by Abraham Lincoln.

Categories: Community, History

WILL - Focus - June 26, 2013

Issues Facing Public Libraries

The weeding of thousands of non-fiction books at the Urbana Free Library has created controversy over transparency in libraries. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about how libraries are curated, what role they play in community and some of the challenges they face due to strained government budgets.


(Duration: 51:07)

The Urbana Free Library

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. 

WILL - Focus - June 18, 2013

Being a Tourist in Your Backyard: Staycations in East Central Illinois

The dog days of summer are here… It would be so nice to get away. Sadly, that’s not always an option. Never fear! This hour on Focus, we talk about things to do in the area that will make you feel like you’re on vacation, even if you’re in your own backyard.


(Duration: 55:01)

a couple sits in their backyard

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows explores East Central Illinois…from the perspective of a tourist. Sue Post, author of Hiking Illinois, will be here to tell us about some scenic, and maybe unexpected, places in the area to enjoy the outdoors and will talk with us about what makes hiking in Illinois unique. We’ll also talk with her about native wildlife of note.

Then during the second half of the hour, we’ll talk with Heather Wilkins, Director for the Land of Lincoln Regional Tourism Office, about Illinois trails. These Trails don’t have much to do with hiking, but they’re just as scenic.  We’ll talk about where you can go to visit everything from Illinois’ most historic drive-in movie theatres to the oldest soda fountains and the world’s largest golf tee and covered wagon.

What are your favorite places to go or things to do to “get away” while staying in the area? We want to hear from you this hour on Focus!

Categories: Community, Travel

WILL - Focus - May 31, 2013

Summer Meteorology

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with former WILL meteorologist Ed Kieser about summer storms and tornado preparedness. We welcome your calls and questions!


(Duration: 51:32)

a tornado in Roanoke, Illinois, 2004

One of the deadliest tornadoes to come through the Midwest in years has left a trail of destruction and death in Moore, Oklahoma. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk with former WILL meteorologist Ed Kieser about tornadoes, when they form, how they form and when they become dangerous. We’ll also talk with him about the strange weather patterns we’ve been having in the Midwest – from drought to damaging floods and summer weather preparedness.

Categories: Community

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