Illinois Pioneers

WILL - Illinois Pioneers - September 27, 2013 ~ Comment (0)

Tim Nugent, game-changer for students with disabilities

7:30 pm Thursday, Oct. 3, on WILL-TV
Tim Nugent coaching U of I wheelchair basketball team

At the University of Illinois, Tim Nugent founded the first comprehensive program in higher education for people with disabilities, and helped establish the university as a power in collegiate wheelchair athletics. Host David Inge talks to Nugent about what it was like for students with disabilities when he started his program after World War II, the difficulties he faced in convincing university faculty and administrators that disabled students belonged on campus, and why wheelchair basketball was an important part of his program.

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WILL - Illinois Pioneers - September 19, 2013 ~ Comment (0)

Former Champaign Mayor Dannel McCollum

7:30 pm Thursday, Sept. 26, on WILL-TV
Dannel McCollum

The former Champaign mayor talks about how his family’s involvement in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case affected him as a child, reflects on his years teaching school, and relates behind-the-scenes stories about the city’s Boneyard Creek and Virginia Theatre projects.

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WILL - Illinois Pioneers - September 17, 2013 ~ Comment (0)

Wolfram Research Co-Founder Theo Gray

7:30 pm Sept. 19, 2013, on WILL-TV (repeated Jan. 9, 2014)
Theo Gray

Theo Gray, innovative software developer and popularizer of science, began studying chemistry but changed course when he was asked to join in the creation of a groundbreaking computational software program called Mathmatica. He’s also a prominent element collector and author. He tells Illinois Pioneers host David Inge that he doesn't write about science because of a missionary zeal to convince people that it's cool. "I do this stuff because I think it's fascinating," he said.

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WILL - Illinois Pioneers - September 12, 2013 ~ Comment (0)

Early childhood education pioneer Lilian Katz

7:30 pm Sept. 12, 2013, on WILL-TV (repeated Jan. 2, 2014)
Lilian Katz

Illinois Pioneers host David Inge interviews Lilian Katz, University of Illinois professor emerita of early childhood education, who is known worldwide for her expertise in child development and teacher education. They talk about how volunteering at her children's cooperative nursery school introduced her to child development. She describes what children should learn in pre-school, how the project approach in early education encourages learning, and what she thinks of standardized testing and computers in the classroom.

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WILL - Illinois Pioneers - September 05, 2013 ~ Comment (0)

2013 Season Premiere: Lou Henson on Sept. 5

David Inge Returns to WILL to Host
Host David Inge with Lou Henson

Illinois Pioneers returns to WILL-TV in September, with retired WILL-AM host David Inge coming back to conduct engaging interviews with former Illini basketball coach Lou Henson (Sept. 5), University of Illinois early childhood education pioneer Lilian Katz (Sept. 12), and Wolfram Research co-founder Theo Gray (Sept. 19). Former Champaign mayor Dannel McCollum is featured on Sept. 26, interviewed by former WILL general manager Mark Leonard. David is a guest on WILL-AM's Focus at 10 am Thursday, Sept. 5.



WILL - Illinois Pioneers - February 24, 2011 ~ Comment (0)

Champaign African-American History

WILL-TV’s Illinois Pioneers looks at African-American history in Champaign, Ill., through the eyes of Estella Merrifield and Hester Suggs, sisters and members of the Nelson family, one of the earliest African-American families in the city. Through their memories and photos, the program chronicles a portion of history from the Civil War through the Civil Rights protests of the late 1960s.

They talk about their grandfather, Joseph Nelson, who around 1900 was one of the first African Americans in the Champaign County Sheriff’s Department, and describe the importance of organizations such as the American Legion in the lives of African-American residents. Churches, such as Salem Baptist and Bethel AME, were all-important as well, they said.


WILL - Illinois Pioneers - January 27, 2011 ~ Comment (0)

Parkland College History

WILL-TV’s Illinois Pioneers looks back at the time when Parkland Junior College students attended classes in downtown Champaign, sometimes occupying church Sunday school classrooms where small chairs had to be stacked in the corner to make room for college-sized desks. 

Host Rick Atterberry uses photos and recollections of former Parkland employees to tell the story of the 45-year history of Parkland, which held its first classes in the fall of 1967 with an enrollment of 1,338 students. Guest Rachel Schroeder, former assistant to the first president of Parkland, and Dale Ewen, retired executive vice president, describe the excitement of building the college from the ground up.


WILL - Illinois Pioneers - November 25, 2010 ~ Comment (0)

Presidential Visits

When the president of the United States comes to town, everyone remembers. But people don’t always remember the remarks the president made or even why he came—sometimes the logistics of his arrival and departure are what stick in people’s minds.

That was the case when President Bill Clinton visited Champaign-Urbana in 1998. Clinton spoke to a full house at the Assembly Hall just days after his State of the Union address. His speech went smoothly, but his flight out of Willard Airport did not. When the pilot of Air Force One turned a tad too sharply and drove off the taxiway, the plane got stuck in the mud. Clinton had to de-board and depart on a backup jet. It took bulldozers, dozens of workers, and the better part of the day to get the first plane back on the asphalt. The story made national news.

A fourth of all U.S. presidents have visited Champaign-Urbana—either while in office or before or after their years as president. Their time here is the focus of this episode of Illinois Pioneers, broadcast on WILL-TV at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010.

The episode explores visits of presidents as well as first ladies such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama. Host John Paul shares photos of the visits and interviews Al Griggs and Jon Rector who helped plan and manage presidential visits. Griggs, a former assistant principal of Centennial High, organized President Gerald Ford’s visit when Ford spoke at the school. Rector, a former marketing director at Willard Airport, helped manage the Air Force One incident. Both say the experience of meeting the president was one of the most memorable of their lives—both for the privilege of hosting the president and for the funny things that happened along the way.

The first to visit was Abraham Lincoln, who before he was president sat for a portrait in Urbana in 1857. President Taft passed through on his way to Springfield and reviewed the troops, and Teddy Roosevelt, a past president at the time, spoke to 18,000 people crowded in Westside Park. Neither President Truman nor President Eisenhower got off the train when they came to Champaign-Urbana; both stopped and spoke at the depot on their whistle stop tours of the country. Presidents Nixon, Kennedy, Ford, Carter and Obama have also come through town either before or during their presidencies.


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