WILL - Focus - January 07, 2014

Gardening: Growing Herbs

Today on Focus, host we’ll learn more about cooking with and growing herbs. Do you grow herbs in your garden in the spring and summer? We want to hear how you use them!


(Duration: 50:01)

Rosemary and other bundled herbs

Due to the life-threatening cold that shut down schools and businesses through much of the Midwest yesterday, we'll spend the first few minutes of this hour on Focus checking in with State Climatologist Jim Angel to get an update on the weather and hear a little more about this weekend's storm.

Then, we’ll turn our attention to thoughts of warmer days ahead… There are lots of beautiful plants to incorporate into a garden, and if you're a person who likes function as well as beauty, planting a herb garden might be a good way to go. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Chuck Voigt, University of Illinois Extension vegetable and herb specialist, and Holly Shimizu, Executive Director of the US Botanical Garden about herbs.

WILL - Focus - January 06, 2014

The Lost Region: Toward a Revival of Midwestern History

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.


(Duration: 47:17)

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.

Categories: History

WILL - Focus - January 03, 2014

Urban Squirrels

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


(Duration: 51:46)

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.

Categories: Environment

WILL - Focus - January 02, 2014

Onward Toward What We’re Going Toward

Ryan Bartelmay recently published his debut novel, which is based in central Illinois. This hour on Focus, he talks with host Jim Meadows.


(Duration: 51:38)

book cover

If you were going to create a town with fictional characters who could live anywhere in the world, where would those characters go when they go home? Your first inclination may not be to create a story based in central Illinois, after all, there are much more exciting places to set a novel. But Morton native and author Ryan Bartelmay says he wouldn’t think to write about characters living anywhere else. This hour on Focus, he talks with host Jim Meadows about his debut novel, “Onward Toward What We’re Going Toward.” We’ll hear about why he writes about cultures in small towns in the Midwest and will hear about a set of characters who make a living working at a pumpkin canning factory.

Categories: Books and Reading

WILL - Focus - January 01, 2014

Capitol Steps: Politics Takes a Holiday New Year’s Special

This hour, we'll hear a roast of 2013 from the team at Capitol Steps. 

Washington, D.C. (Jan. 19, 2005) - Fireworks explode over the White House on the eve of President Bush's inauguration at the Ellipse in Washington D.C.

According to the team at Capitol Steps, 2013 has been great for job creation....mostly for comedians. This hour we'll hear their annual mock documentary special, "Politics Takes a Holiday!" This year will feature all-new year-end awards including"Best Moment in Senator Ted Cruz's 21-hour Filibuster," "Best Thigh-Reducing Exercises to do While Waiting for" and, of course "Best Reason to Spy On the American Public — Because You Can!"

We are sorry we cannot provide a podcast of this holiday program locally. Please visit Capitol Steps' website to download this program. 


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WILL - Focus - December 31, 2013

Encore: Dreamland - Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep

We spend nearly a third of our lives asleep…but have you ever wondered why? Interestingly enough, despite years and billions of dollars in research, even leading sleep scientists still can’t answer that question. We'll listen back to a conversation, Lindsey Moon had with David Randall, author of the book “Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep.”


(Duration: 51:33)

book cover

Studies of the brain and its processes are often full of more questions than they are answers, but one such question started to nag at David Randall after he sleep walked into a wall. “Why do we sleep?”

This hour on Focus, we'll listen back to a conversation Lindsey Moon had with Randall about his book “Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep." We’ll hear about why many of the sleep disorders we classify as problems today weren’t anything to be worried about before the invention of the light bulb, why it’s so hard to pin down the biologic reason for why the human brain needs sleep and will talk about the real reason it’s so hard to drag teenagers from bed before 10 a.m. We’ll also talk about what’s being called sleep crime, cases where sleepwalkers have committed murder while dreaming.

Randall is a senior reporter at Reuters and an adjunct professor at New York University. He’s also been published in the New York Times, New York Magazine and Forbes. Dreamland is his first book. 

Categories: Science

WILL - Focus - December 30, 2013

2013 by the Headlines

This hour on Focus, we’ll take a look back at 2013 by the headlines.


(Duration: 53:16)

Damage from a tornado that struck Gifford, Ill. on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2013.

In 2013, the Illinois legislature finally passed a bill to try and fix the state’s pension issues, legalized same sex marriage and legalized medical marijuana. The Affordable Care Act’s health care exchanges made their debut, plagued with problems, and the US almost took action in Syria. Tornadoes late in the fall tore through the state flattening homes in Gifford and Washington, and the state’s film community said goodbye to renowned critic Roger Ebert.

This hour on Focus, we’ll take a look back and 2013 by the headlines. Illinois Public Radio’s Brian Mackey, and WILL reporters Sean Powers and Jeff Bossert talk with host Jim Meadows about the biggest stories of the year.

What was the biggest news in your life this year? Post in the comments section below!

Categories: Media and journalism

WILL - Focus - December 27, 2013

Encore: Understanding Personality Tests

Have you ever taken a personality test to see what it says about you? Today on Focus, we find out what they actually measure and what we can and can’t learn from them.


(Duration: 51:28)

The International Society for Arboriculture uses the "True Colors" personality test. Employees keep their colors on puzzle pieces outside their door in the office.

Personality tests inform hiring selections, career paths, dating options and any number of other decisions in business, academia and culture. But what do personality tests actually measure, and do our personalities change over time? Why do we seem to love to taking personality tests so much? This hour on Focus, we'll listen back to a conversation host Jim Meadows had with Professor Brent Roberts about the science, popularity and limits of personality tests. Cindy Harris, a human resources manager, from the International Society of Arboriculture also joins the program. The Champaign-based organization says using the “True Colors” personality test has been really helpful in its workplace culture.
Have you taken a personality test? Did you find it useful or useless? Do you have questions about how it scored you? Give us a call this hour on Focus!

Categories: Art and Culture

WILL - Focus - December 26, 2013

A Season’s Griot

Kwanzaa begins today and lasts through January 4. During this hour, we'll learn more about the holiday and will listen to plenty of music with host Madafo Lloyd Wilson. 

Madafo Lloyd Wilson

Madafo Lloyd Wilson has been hosting public radio's only Kwanzaa program for nealry 20 years. During this hour, we'll join him as he captures tales and traditions of African American and African people with familiar and favorite elements of Griot. 


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WILL - Focus - December 25, 2013

Tinsel Tales 2

This hour, we'll hear holiday stories from the voices of NPR.

NPR fills millions of homes each holiday with humor, warmth and a host of festive voices. Continuing the tradition of the first Tinsel Tales, this is another collection of NPR favorite holiday stories. NPR personalities from past and present share stories of joy, hope and childhood memories. 


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