Focus

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!


WILL - Focus - February 13, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

The Negro in Illinois: The WPA Papers

After sifting through thousands of documents, Brian Dolinar finished a book started over 70 years ago. The work he helped to complete? "The Negro in Illinois: The WPA Papers."

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(Duration: 51:14)

The question: What was life like for black Americans in Illinois during the 1930s?

Before World War II, President Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration funded a special division of the Illinois Writer’s Project that employed black writers living in Illinois. The special program, which was led by Harlem Renaissance poet Arna Bontemps and white writer Jack Conroy, encouraged major black voices who lived in Chicago in the 1930s to write about everything from aspects of domestic life to politics, literature and religion. Novelists Richard Wright and Frank Yerby, and dancer and choreographer Katherine Dunham were among those who wrote or did research for a projected volume on African-American history in Illinois.

When funding for the project was diverted to the war, the papers written by those voices were put into a box and set aside – until Brian Dolinar uncovered them and complied them into a new book “The Negro in Illinois: The WPA Papers.” This hour on Focus, Jim Meadows talks with Brian Dolinar about discovering those lost writings after all these years.

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WILL - Focus - February 12, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

Central Illinois Olympians

This hour on Focus, we’ll hear from five-time Olympic gold medalist Bonnie Blair, who is representing the U.S. as a delegate this winter in Sochi, Russia and other central Illinois Olympic skaters.

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(Duration: 51:35)

Former U.S. Olympic speed skater Bonnie Blair attends the unveiling of her image on U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Tribute at USA House in Vancouver, British Columbia, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2010.

Winter Olympians from central Illinois have something in common; nearly all of them have competed in the Games wearing ice skates. This hour on Focus, we’ll hear from three of them. First, Scott Cameron talks with Bonnie Blair about representing the U.S. in Sochi and about how Jonathan Kuck of Champaign, who is skating three speed skating events, is expected to compete. Then, Jeff Bossert talks with speed skater Katherine Reutter and figure skater Matt Savoie.

Categories: Sports

WILL - Focus - February 11, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

Civil Unrest in Ukraine

Thousands of protestors have occupied Ukraine’s Maidan square in Kiev since November when President Viktor Yankovych refused to sign a trade agreement with the European Union. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about the unrest in the country.

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(Duration: 52:01)

Protestors with demands of European values in Ukraine. November 26, 2013.

Anti-government protests in Ukraine have continued to escalate since November with tens of thousands of protestors gathering in Kiev’s Maidan Square throughout the winter. Crowds are now calling for President Viktor Yanukovich’s resignation.

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Associate Professor of Political Science Carol Leff about the protests and about what’s ahead for the country. Iryna Sukhnatska, a law student at the University of Illinois who immigrated to the states from Ukraine in 1999, also joins the show. Some of her family has been protesting, and she says it is hard to watch the violence play out from afar.

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Focus - February 10, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

Down the Up Escalator: How the 99 Percent Live

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Barbara Garson about her book “Down the Up Escalator,” which follows families, rich and poor, through the Great Recession.

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(Duration: 51:51)

book cover

The Great Recession threw huge economic challenges at nearly all Americans – rich and poor. In her book Down the Up Escalator, Barbara Garson writes about how those challenges played out in the lives of real people. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Garson about her book and about what happens to those at the bottom when a society’s organization favors those at the top.

Categories: Economics

WILL - Focus - February 07, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

Encore: The House I Live In

Today on Focus, we’ll listen back to host Jim Meadows’ conversation with filmmaker Eugene Jarecki about his documentary “The House I Live In.”

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(Duration: 51:32)

Inmates at Oklahoma State Reformatory in Granite, OK.

While federal laws against marijuana remain in place, two states of decriminalized its use, and several states have passed laws allowing medicinal use of the drug. Meanwhile, the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman from a heroin overdose has ignited a conversation about whether heroin use is a criminal issue or a public health issue. Is America starting to reconsider its war on drugs?

This hour on Focus, we’ll listen back to a conversation with Eugene Jarecki, writer, producer and director for the documentary “The House I Live In.” In the film, Jarecki talks with everyone from a federal judge to an inmate reflecting on his life on the outside.

Categories: Criminal Justice

WILL - Focus - February 06, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

A New Kind of Student Union?

Northwestern football players want to unionize, could they be able to?

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(Duration: 44:01)

Ramogi Huma, President of the College Athletes Players Association, the union looking for recognition from the NLRB.

Football players at Northwestern University in Evanton, Ill., led by senior quarterback Kain Colter, are petitioning the National Labor Relations Board to form a union. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Ramogi Huma, President of the College Athletes Players Association, which is representing the players, about what they’re asking for. According to Huma, the players are far more interested in stricter rules from the NCAA protecting them from concussions and extended scholarships, not money.

Then, Northwestern University Labor Law Professor Zev Eigen join us. He says it’s unlikely the players’ union will gain recognition from the National Labor Relations Board but that forming a union isn’t the only avenue to get what they’re asking for.

Categories: Sports

WILL - Focus - February 05, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

Preserving heirlooms and treasures from the past

Do you have an antique or a photo album that has been in your family for generations? How do you preserve those things to ensure they’ll last?

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(Duration: 49:38)

We spend lots of time caring for artifacts from the past and are always looking for new ways to improve techniques for preserving the history found in our photographs, books and other heirlooms. There are entire industries built on preserving photos in scrapbooks or in digital slideshows, and there are museums and historical societies caring for everything from old pieces of clothing to handwritten letters and books. On an individual level, we all have things that are important enough to invest that kind of energy in caring for, but how do you go about doing so?


WILL - Focus - February 04, 2014 ~ Comment (0)

Craft Distillers and the “Whiskey Renaissance”

Between 2008 and 2012, craft distilleries in the US more than doubled. This hour on Focus, we’ll hear from author and whiskey connoisseur Clay Risen and two local distillers.

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(Duration: 51:31)

In the last decade, craft beer and wine industries across the Midwest have blossomed. This is especially true in Illinois when it comes to the wine industry. New, locally owned distilleries are also starting to pop up. Between 2008 and 2012, craft distilleries in the US more than doubled. Today on Focus, we’ll investigate. Host Jim Meadows talks with author and whiskey connoisseur Clay Risen about the changing definition of an “American whiskey” and about his book “American Whiskey Bourbon and Rye: A Guide to The Nation’s Favorite Spirit.”

Categories: Food

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