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.
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.
This hour on Focus, we'll listen back to a conversation Jim Meadows had with Jon Lauck, author of the new book “The Lost Region: Toward a Revival of Midwestern History,” about the forgotten moments when the Midwest played a crucial part in US history. We’ll also hear about the vital role state and local historical societies have played in documenting history in the region.
Today on Focus, we welcome back Professor May Berenbaum to talk about this year’s Insect Fear Film Festival.
At this year’s Insect Fear Film Festival, May Berenbaum says she’s out to explore our complex relationship with pesticides. This hour on Focus, Scott Cameron talks with Berenbaum, professor of entomology and department head at the University of Illinois, about this year’s films, which include Riders of the Whistling Pines (1949), a film in which spraying DDT saves the day.
Berenbaum will also tell us more about new research linking pesticides to the decline in bee populations. Call us to join our conversation on Focus!
Read more to see a full list of films at this year’s festival.
We see squirrels every day in cities across Illinois, but squirrels didn’t always live in urban areas in such abundance.
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.
This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about caring for cut flowers with horticulture expert Sandy Mason. We welcome your calls and questions!
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!
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Today on Focus, we’ll listen back to host Jim Meadows’ conversation with filmmaker Eugene Jarecki about his documentary “The House I Live In.”
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.
Northwestern football players want to unionize, could they be able to?
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.
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