WILL - Focus - February 04, 2014

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.


(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

WILL - Focus - February 03, 2014

New Leaders: A Black History Month Special

Today - State of the Re:Union special shines the spotlight on the next generaton of grassroots leaders in the African American community.

Usually during Black History Month, we remember Civil Rights icons and reflect on their legacy.  But over the past couple of years, State of the Re:Union has met a new generation of African American leaders, people you may not see on TV specials or making nationally acclaimed speeches. Most of these men and women are on the front lines of their communities, rolling up their selves and diving in to what can be very unglamorous work. In this episode, State of the Re:Unionwould like to introduce you to this group of leaders and what they’re accomplishing in their various corners of America.

We are sorry we are unavailable to provide a podcast for this hour. 

Categories: Community

WILL - Focus - January 31, 2014

Cash, credit or Bitcoin?

Venture capitalists are starting to invest in bitcoin, and some major retailers are considering accepting it as payment. Does that mean it’s on track to become a new form of mainstream currency?


(Duration: 51:51)

a bitcoin banknote

Bitcoin, a form of cryptocurrency, is now being accepted by major online supplier Sites like are also reported to also be considering accepting bitcoin as payment. There are even bitcoin ATMs starting to pop up in major cities. Locally, Cheese and Crackers, an artisanal deli in Champaign, has been accepting bitcoin for about 6 months. Owner Bart Basi says in his store bitcoin is more of a conversation starter than a currency at this point but that he does get a couple customers every month who pay with it.

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Basi about being reimbursed in bitcoin. Jim Angel, Visiting Associate Professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania from the School of Business at Georgetown University, also joins the show. Venture capital firms like Anderseen-Horowitz, whose co-founder wrote recently about the potential for bitcoin, say bitcoin is a solution to a lot of technical problems with online payments. Angel isn’t so sure and joins Focus to talk about the merits and problems with bitcoin.

Categories: Business, Economics

WILL - Focus - January 30, 2014

The Death Class

Who taught you what you know about death and dying? Did anyone?


(Duration: 51:37)

author Erika Hayasaki

Erika Hayasaki met Professor Norma Bowe while she was covering the Virginia Tech shootings as a correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. At the time, Hayasaki says she was reporting on a lot of death. It was when she discovered Bowe’s “Death in Perspective” class that she realized how much she had to learn.

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Champaign native, Erika Hayasaki about her new book “The Death Class.” Professor Norma Bowe, who teaches one of the most popular courses at Kean University in New Jersey also joins the show. We’ll hear what makes the class worth putting your name on a three year wait list.

Categories: Education

WILL - Focus - January 29, 2014

Women On the Internet: Welcome but not welcome?

This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about technology is changing the conversation about sexism. 


(Duration: 51:52)

people working at computers in a library

Sunday evening when University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise emailed the campus to say that classes would indeed be held despite a predicted below zero temperature with windchills reaching into the double digits, the internet became a way for students to voice their discontent. Within hours, a Twitter hashtag joking about the cold turned into a sexist and racist attack on the Chancellor herself. During this hour on Focus, Scott Cameron talks with Amanda Hess, author of the recent article “Why Aren’t Women Welcome on the Internet” about her experiences with the kind of verbal abuse directed at Chancellor Wise. Hess also talks about the University’s nonresponse to the incident.

Then, host Jim Meadows talks with Kate Clancy, an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois. She blogs for the Scientific American about “human behavior, evolutionary medicine…..and ladybusiness” and recently wrote about the current plight of women in academia. She says the kinds of backhandedness that happens online translates into real life consequences. Emily Graslie, the producer and host of the Field Museum’s behind-the-scenes science vlog “The Brain Scoop,” also joins the show. Her recent post “Where My Ladies At?” questions whether more women would pursue careers in science if they were met with a different kind of judgment from men in the field.

Categories: Community, Gender issues

WILL - Focus - January 28, 2014

Health Care in All the Wrong Places

Our current medical system is a business. Should it be?


(Duration: 51:16)

Our current medical system is a business. Should it be? According to filmmaker Susan Parenti and Dr. Patch Adams, the answer to that question is “no.” In her new film “Health Care in All the Wrong Places,” Parenti explores the disconnect between the phrase “health care” and the actual meaning of the word “care.”

This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with Parenti and with Dr. Adams, who appears in the film as a patient, about what medicine could be. Adams, who is a student of Parenti’s in the Urbana based “School for Designing a Society,” has been working since he entered medical school in the late 1960’s to build a hospital where medical care is free and says that providing care should be, even though it often isn’t, at the heart of medical interaction.

Read more to see the trailer.

Categories: Health

WILL - Focus - January 27, 2014

Encore: Farmacology - What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing

The laboratory seems worlds away from the farm, but according to Dr. Daphne Miller, they’re more closely connected than you  might think. This hour on Focus, Lisa Bralts talks with Dr. Miller about her argument that farming can teach us a lot about health. 


(Duration: 51:33)

Dr. Daphne Miller

A recipe for healthy soil is very much like a recipe for a healthy body. That’s according to author and family physician Dr. Daphne Miller. In her new book “Farmcology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing,” she argues that sustainable cattle ranching can teach us a lot of lessons about raising health kids and says that she can see connections between the way certain vineyards manage pests and how we treat and think about cancer. This hour on Focus, Lisa Bralts talks with Miller about her book and the farms she visited while writing and researching it. We’ll also hear about why she says drinking raw milk is having unprotected sex. 


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WILL - Focus - January 24, 2014

Encore: The Day Kennedy Died

Abraham Zapruder caught one of the most infamous moments in American history on film and sold the footage to Life Magazine. This hour on Focus, host Jim Meadows talks with the reporter who convinced him to give up the film. 


(Duration: 51:32)

President and Mrs. Kennedy at the Dallas airport

When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated at Dealy Plaza in Dallas, Texas in 1963, Richard Stolley was Los Angeles bureau chief for Life Magazine. He got a call soon after the news of the assassination broke that someone named Zapruder had caught the whole thing on film.

Stolley immediately started thumbing through the phone book looking for a way to contact him, and Life eventually obtained the footage for a price tag of more than $100,000. Years following the Kennedy assassination, Zapruder’s business partner has said the money wasn’t the only reason Zapruder gave up the film to Life. This hour on Focus, we'll listen back to a conversation host Jim Meadows had with Stolley about his Illinois roots, in part, helped him obtain that film. Meadows also talks with Stolley about the continuing significance of the Kennedy assassination and why the man and the moment still matter 50 years later.


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WILL - Focus - January 23, 2014

Encore: In Meat We Trust - An Unexpected History of Carnivore America

In her new book “In Meat We Trust,” author Maureen Ogle argues the reason the meat industry has evolved into what it is today, is because that’s what consumers asked for.


(Duration: 51:40)

Meat tenderized the old-fashioned way. The industrial method is a mechanized process involving needles.

When it comes to the meat industry, there is no shortage of opinion about whether large meat producers and packers are good or bad, but how and why did meat production become so controversial? How did we arrive at the production model we use today?

Author Maureen Ogle says that early in American history eating meat was a symbol of status and that consumers demanded low cost meat for their families. That, in addition to industrialization and the move of many Americans from rural areas to cities, is all a part of the very complex history of meat production in America. This hour on Focus, we'll listen back to a conversation she had about her new book “In Meat We Trust,” with host Jim Meadows. We'll hear more about why most of the meat we consume comes from a large factory farm rather than from a small family owned farm and about why Americans eat so much chicken.

Categories: Food

WILL - Focus - January 22, 2014

Conceal and carry law now in effect

Illinois new conceal and carry law took effect January 1. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about what citizens who aren’t gun owners can expect from people who will soon be concealing a loaded weapon on their person.


(Duration: 51:42)

A handgun is on display during a seminar on gun violence in Springfield, Ill.

Concealed Carry permits are being approved by the Illinois State Police and could start being mailed soon. This hour on Focus, we’ll talk about who will be carrying a gun and what kind of training the state requires before they’ll issue a permit. Champaign County Sheriff Dan Walsh and concealed carry instructor John Boch join host Jim Meadows to start this hour on Focus. We’ll hear about how the application review process is working out in Champaign county and will hear what kind of training you can expect people with concealed carry permits to have.

Then, police departments and citizens who want a license to conceal and carry aren’t the only ones who’ve been getting ready for the new law. Private Security Consultant Tim Sutton says he’s been working with hospitals and churches addressing security concerns posed by the new law.

Did you apply for a conceal and carry license? Why do you want one? Now that conceal and carry is a reality in Illinois, do you feel safer or not? Give us a call this hour on Focus or find us on Facebook and Twitter @Focus580

Categories: Community, Law

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