It's puppy mania when America's favorite talking dog returns for a week of brand-new, pawsitively adorable, tail-wagging fun June 24-28 at 6:30 am on WILL-TV. Kicking off the week with "Puppy Skits," we learn that innocent, easy-going Skits may, in fact, have been a time-traveling puppy! Then on Tuesday in "The Puppy Tooth Fairy," Martha and Skits are determined to bring treats to all the Wagstaff City puppies, as they become Puppy Tooth Fairies! On Wednesday in "The Puppy Show," Martha and the gang try to come up with the perfect pitch for a new puppy TV show. And in Thursday's "Martha's Puppy," Martha thinks it's a great idea to train baby Jake to become her new puppy.
Puppy week ends Friday with the classic two-parter "Martha's Life in Crime," where Martha tells the story of her puppy days. Kids can tune in for the premiere of Martha Speaks fifth season and learn new words such as paleontologist, fossil, exhibit and more.
"We think puppies are the perfect vehicle to teach kids new vocabulary. Words like destroy, mess, ruin, exhausted, and anticipation all spring naturally from stories about puppies and we know they'll be memorable to kids," says senior executive producer Carol Greenwald. "And who doesn't love puppies?"
An American team's quest for the most coveted prize in competitive sailing, The America’s Cup.
Awe-inspiring boats that reflect the unlimited reach of human ingenuity, breathtaking views, action, tension, excitement, consummate skill, the pursuit of lifelong dreams and the tempestuous romance between sailors and the sea, set against a soaring musical score: this is The Wind God’s, the story of the 33rd America’s Cup race. In a quest to bring the oldest trophy in International Sports back to America, Oracle Corporation’s Larry Ellison organizes an elite team to sail USA-17, the most technologically advanced sailboat ever built, in a challenge against the defending Swiss team Alinghi, which has held the cup for seven years. The film documents the effort from start to finish, with intimate portraits of the competitors, fascinating insights into the cup’s history, and sweeping cinematography of the race. But more than that, The Wind Gods is a tribute to the adventurous spirit that leads men to test their limits, by challenging the elements, the sea, and fate.
Directed by Peabody-award winner Fritz Mitchell and produced by Skydance Productions, the orchestral score by composer Pinar Toprak received the International Film Music Critics Association Award for Best Documentary Score in 2011.
Watch a preview.
10 am Thursday on WILL-AM: What are the best Illinois wines and what challenges do wine growers face in the state?
There’s what some call a wine movement happening through the Midwest, and Illinois is definitely following suit. Midwest wine makers and grape growers have seen a huge increase in business in the last decade, and we’ll talk about why. Bradley Beam, an enologist with the Illinois Grape Growers and Vinters Association will join us to talk about what makes an Illinois wine and where you can go to find the perfect one for you. Tony Jacobson, a winemaker at Sleepy Creek Vineyards in Oakwood also joins us. We’ll talk about new research being done to enable vineyards to grow more grapes in a colder climate, and he’ll walk us through the wine making process from start to finish.
Have you visited a winery or vineyard in Illinois? What wines do you recommend? Maybe you have questions about why locally produced wines are sometimes hard to come by… we’d love to hear from you!
9 pm Monday, June 24: A close-up look at the rarely seen world of undertakers in the black community.
Through the eyes of Harlem funeral director Isaiah Owens, the beauty and grace of African-American funerals are brought to life. Homegoings takes an up-close look at the rarely seen world of undertaking in the black community, drawing on a rich palette of tradition, history and celebration. The film paints a portrait of the departed, their grieving families and a man who sends loved ones “home.”
“When it comes to death and funerals, African-American people, we have our own way,” Owens says. “It has worked for us throughout the ages; it has kept us balanced, sane. And everybody knows that it’s going to be a sad, good time.”
A thumbnail biographical sketch of Owens might sound a little odd: A South Carolina boy obsessed with funerals grows up to be a renowned funeral director in New York City’s historic Harlem neighborhood. The bigger picture, as captured in Homegoings, shows an exceptionally warm-hearted, philosophical man who pursues his business with equal care for the living and for the dead. He combines instinctive sympathy for those who grieve with a deep knowledge of African-American funeral customs that aim to turn sorrow into an affirmation of faith that loved ones are going “home.” Paradoxically, Owens’ success reveals that this precious tradition, formed in a time of rigid segregation, is disappearing. Homegoings is the portrait of man with a rare passion and of the inspired, if threatened, African-American way of death.
Christine Turner’s debut feature documentary, Homegoings, premieres Monday, June 24,at 9 pm on WILL-TV, kicking off the 26th season of the award-winning PBS series POV (Point of View).
Isaiah Owens is the quintessential self-made man. The son of a sharecropper, he grew up among people who made their living picking cotton. When a loved one died, he says, relatives “would sign a promissory note that when the cotton is ready this year, that they would come back and pay. The black funeral director wound up being a friend, somebody in the community that was stable, appeared to have means.”
But neither Owens nor his mother, Willie Mae, who today works as a receptionist at his other funeral parlor in Branchville, S.C., can completely account for the Owens’ fascination with burials, even as a boy. When Owens was five, he buried a matchstick and put flowers on top of the soil. After that he progressed to burying “frogs . . . chickens; I buried the mule that died. I buried the neighbor’s dog, and the dog’s name was Snowball.” Willie Mae says with a smile, “Anything that he find dead, he buried. Can’t even think where he got it from. . . . But that was his calling.”
In 1968, this calling took 17-year-old Owens to New York City, where he learned his craft. A few years later, he opened what would become one of Harlem’s most popular funeral homes, with a largely Baptist clientele. Today, Owens’ wife, Lillie, works with him, but Owens remains the most constant presence. When he is dressing and beautifying the dead, he shows a dedication to craft and attention to detail that exemplifies Owens Funeral Home’s motto: “Where Beauty Softens Your Grief.” When talking with bereaved families, he is entirely focused on the members’ individual needs. (He seems to remember the name of everyone he’s ever buried, including Snowball.)
Homegoings introduces some of Owens’ customers, who express a mix of grief, humor and celebration. Linda “Redd” Williams-Miller, for instance, jovially plans her own funeral down to the last detail, including the exact shade of her namesake color to be used for her nails and hair. The children of Queen Petra are unsure how to honor their mother’s multicultural legacy, until Owens suggests there’s no reason they can’t have a parade, led by a white horse and carriage, down the very block where their mother was a street vendor. Owens commiserates with Walter Simons, whose grandmother’s passing turns into a double funeral when his grandfather dies just two days later. They share the sorrow and joy in knowing that two people could be so connected by love.
Williams-Miller describes the African-American funeral this way: “Homegoing. A happy occasion. . . . going home to be at peace. . . . You’re going home to meet the ones that went on before you and they’re there waiting for you.” Throughout Homegoings, Owens relates the culture and history of death and mourning in the black community, harkening back to slavery and segregation. He explains that “when the slaves were killed . . . it wasn’t a proper funeral, but they kind of did their best. . . . When they got down in the woods, away from the slave masters . . . they came up with songs like ‘Soon I will be done with the troubles of the world, going home to live with my God.’” He recalls that when he was growing up in the South, the funeral director was a lifeline for the community: “Whenever somebody got sick, they would call Mr. Bird at the funeral home, and then he would ride out in the country to tell my mother, ‘Such and such one is real sick in Philadelphia,’ and . . . ‘your sister called.’”
Owens recalls more recent history, too, from an era when Harlem was full of mom-and-pop funeral homes, each with a loyal clientele, “but since ’68 I probably could count at least 20 or 25 funeral homes that have gone out of business.” He also notes another trend: In the 1980s many of the departed were victims of violence or AIDS, whereas today people are dying of heart problems or stroke. Owens routinely receives invitations to sell his establishment to bigger companies, but he always turns them down. “I’m trying to create a business that could take care of my family for maybe the next hundred, 200 years,” he explains. In doing so, he is also carrying forward a legacy—dating back more than a century—of the black funeral director as a pillar of the community.
10 am Tuesday on Focus: Things to do nearby that make you feel like you're on vacation.
WILL-AM's 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 every from Illinois’ most historic drive-in movie theaters to the oldest soda fountains and the world’s largest golf tee and covered wagon.
4 pm today on WILL-FM: Blues that also can sound a little bit of New Orleans, a little bit Memphis and a little bit gospel.
Based in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, Davina and the Vagabonds claim as influences Fats Domino, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Aretha Franklin and Tom Waits. While they bill themselves primarily as a blues band, their music can also sound a little bit New Orleans, a little bit Memphis and a little bit gospel. Davina and the Vagabonds will play shows in Champaign Tuesday and Wednesday, and they’ll play for us live on the Tuesday edition of Live and Local.
10:30 pm tonight: Host Jak Tichenor talks to legislative leaders about the session.
This program will feature interviews with members in leadership and committee chair roles. Assistant House Majority Leader John Bradley D-Marion, House Republican Caucus Chair Mike Bost R-Murphysboro, Assistant Senate Republican Leader David Luechtefeld R-Okawville, and Rep. Brandon Phelps D-Harrisburg.
9 pm Tuesday, June 25, on WILL-TV: Getting sexually assaulted, and even raped, is sometimes part of the job for women who pick the food we eat.
For the women who pick and process the food we eat every day, getting sexually assaulted, and even raped, is sometimes part of the job. Frontline and Univision partner to tell the story of the hidden price many migrant women working in America's fields and packing plants pay to stay employed and provide for their families. This investigation is the result of a yearlong reporting effort by veteran Frontline correspondent Lowell Bergman, the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley, and the Center for Investigative Reporting. More info and a preview.
Host Jim Meadows talks with journalist and author Mark Pendergrast about his book, now out in paperback, “For God, Country and Coca-Cola.” Pendergrast tells us about the now famous soft drink that started as an obscure patent medicine created by a small family owned business.
In his book, Pendergrast shares the guarded secret recipe for the cola…. We’ll hear about what ingredients comprise America’s beloved soft drink and if it’s true that Coke contained cocaine in the early 1900s.