Howard Buffett
January 02, 2015

Farmer and philanthropist Howard Buffett

When he was a boy, Howard Buffett loved to play in the dirt. He even planted corn in his family’s backyard when he was only 5, and he’s always loved big machines. So it’s no surprise he ended up in agriculture, says Illinois Pioneers host David Inge.

Buffett says he considers himself a farmer first. “But he is also the CEO of a foundation dedicated to finding solutions to world hunger and has traveled to 130 countries looking for new ways to help people feed their families, while at the same time taking care of the environment,” David said.

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Mark Rubel
December 11, 2014

Pogo Studio founder Mark Rubel

Illinois Pioneers host David Inge sits down with Mark Rubel, founder of the legendary Pogo Studio. Rubel has played bass with Captain Rat and the Blind Rivets for more than 30 years.

From the mid-1980s until last year, Rubel worked at Pogo Studio in downtown Champaign. Now he lives in Nashville, where he teaches studio technique at the Blackbird Academy.

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Jeff Perkins
December 04, 2014

Youth mentor Jeff Perkins

Retired electrician Jeff Perkins grew up in Decatur, Illinois, and over the years, worked in a number of community organizations. He served on the Decatur School Board and is a past president of the Decatur chapter of the NAACP. He founded Caring Black Men of Decatur several years ago out of concern about young men getting into trouble.

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Nina Paley
November 17, 2014

Animator and cartoonist Nina Paley

At one time Nina Paley billed herself as America’s Best-Loved Unknown Cartoonist. But that changed with the 2008 premiere of her animated feature film “Sita Sings the Blues.” The film draws on a classic of Indian literature to tell a timeless story of faithless love. It’s been shown at over 150 film festivals and won more than 30 international awards. And it was the struggle over the right to use the music in the film that led her to another area in where she has become known--copyright reform. She talks to host David Inge about how copyright law stifles creativity rather than protecting them.

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Ollie Watts David
November 10, 2014

Soprano Ollie Watts Davis

Ollie Watts Davis says that she didn’t seek music out … it found her, says host David Inge. Her college, West Virginia Institute of Technology, didn’t offer a course of study in voice. “But she had been singing ever since she was little,” he said. While visiting her college, long-time U of I faculty member William Warfield heard her sing and encouraged her to come to Urbana to study voice. She did, eventually earning her Doctor of Musical Arts degree. In the interview, the U of I voice professor talks about the women who were her mentors, her work with students, and singing as a spiritual act.

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Murray Wise
November 03, 2014

Farmland investment expert Murray Wise

Murray Wise grew up on a farm in Ontario, Canada. Through his childhood and into his college years at Iowa State University, he knew he wanted to farm. As it turned out, farm equipment was in short supply so he rented out his land and took a job working in farm management and real estate. That was back in 1975. He went on to start his own company--the Westchester Group--and today he is nationally recognized as an authority on farmland investment, valuation and management.

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Preston Jackson
October 24, 2014

Artist Preston Jackson

Preston Jackson is well-known in Illinois and beyond as a sculptor and painter. “He also likes to think of himself as a storyteller, and the story is often a personal one,” said Ilinois Pioneers host David Inge. “As he says, ‘I create who I am.’ ” Jackson is the co-founder of the Contemporary Art Center in Peoria, where he also has a studio and gallery. He earned his Master of Fine arts degree at the U of I, and has taught for many years at the Art Institute of Chicago.

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Ed Scharlau
October 14, 2014

Bank vice chairman Ed Scharlau

Busey Bank vice chairman Ed Scharlau,  who started in banking as a part-time janitor and teller, and now is vice chairman of Busey Bank, has been in the banking business in Champaign-Urbana for a half century. He began in 1964 when he worked as a part-time teller, earning $1.25 an hour, and worked nights as a part-time janitor, earning $2 an hour.

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May Berenbaum
October 03, 2014

U of I entomologist May Berenbaum

May Berenbaum has received many honors from fellow scientists, and on Oct. 3, the White House announced that she's a recipient of the National Medal of Science. But she also has numerous fans among the general public who have been caught up in her infectious love of insects. Host David Inge said she put aside her childhood fear of insects to become an entomologist.

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Fred Kummerow
September 26, 2014

Trans fats researcher Fred Kummerow

Fred Kummerow has long argued that trans fats, found in a wide range of processed foods, pose a much greater risk than cholesterol. He got interested in trans fats in the late 1950s when he examined arteries of people who had died from heart attacks and found them clogged with trans fat. “His concerns were dismissed because he was a chemist and not a cardiologist,” said host David Inge. The University of Illinois emeritus professor, who’s been researching the relationship between diet and heart disease for more than 60 years, talks with Inge about his lifestyle, which includes eating an egg every day, and gives some hints about his current research interest—Alzheimer’s disease.

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