It's been 20 years since the federal government announced that Chanute Air Force Base would be closing its doors. That cost over a thousand jobs and decimated Rantoul's population, but the effort to redevelop the land has produced a number of success stories. Katy Podagrosi served as Rantoul's mayor through much of that time. This week, the village's leader for more than 12 years -- and resident for nearly 50 -- is leaving the community. She spoke with AM 580's Jeff Bossert (click below for the full interview)
Illinois Public Media News
The number of casualties keeps rising from the earthquake in China's Sichuan province. The devastation is also felt in Champaign-Urbana. Many Chinese residents here have been checking up on family and friends back home to make sure they're alright. AM 580's Michael Koliska talked with four of them -- and he reports that for at least one, the news has been tragic.
An accident in her teens left Arley McNeney with only partial use of her legs, but it led her to success in wheelchair basketball. That experience provides the background for the University of Illinois graduate student's first novel entitled "Post." McNeney played with Canada's national wheelchair basketball team, which won a bronze medal in the 2004 Olympics. Now, her novel is shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writer's Prize in the "best first book" category. AM 580's Michael Koliska spoke with McNeney off the court during the National Women's Wheelchair Basketball Championships in Champaign.
The story of the Tuskegee Airmen began as an experiment and ended by proving the ability of many African-American servicemen. The military's first black pilots withstood animosity to fight America's enemies overseas while continuing to fight racism on the home front. The next in our series looks at the paths taken by two of the first members of the Army Air Corps' 99th Pursuit Squadron. Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul was the first training ground for these officers. AM 580's Jeff Bossert spoke with the widows of two men, Bill Thompson and Ellsworth Dansby, who helped pave the way for many others.
Dan Fogelberg will long be remembered for songs like 'Longer' and 'Same Old Lang Syne', but a few years before he wrote and recorded those hits, he was a student at the University of Illinois, attracting crowds to a local coffeehouse. The Peoria native died Sunday at the age of 56. AM 580's Jeff Bossert talked with one of Fogelberg's earliest collaborators.
63 years ago this week, Germany was mounting its last major offensive in World War Two. Months later, the Nazis would fall and the guns of war would finally go silent in Europe. In the following decades, we heard about bits and pieces of the conflagration, hundreds of thousands of individual stories from those on the front lines. Now, one by one, those voices are also falling silent. AM 580's Tom Rogers let five area residents - four veterans (including Harold Cox, above-right) and a civilian -- tell their stories of the war's bloodiest battle.
One of the anchors of NPR's All Things Considered, Robert Siegel, started his career in college. As a student reporter, he anchored coverage of the student protests at Columbia University in 1968. Speaking with AM 580's Jeff Bossert during a visit to Champaign, Siegel says his first job not only allowed him to be informative, but let him fully understand a situation without being involved himself.
Curt Campbell (left, holding a copy of his memoirs) is a retired farmer -- and an American serviceman who experienced prison life behind enemy lines. AM 580's Tom Rogers talked with him.
Two central Illinois men had to choose between their country's call and their church's teachings. These men (Merlin Taber, far left, and Delbert Augsburger, near left) were members of historic peace denominations that preach against military service. As AM 580's Jim Meadows reports, these two men made two different decisions.
Debi Thomas has swapped her ice skates for scrubs. The former figure skating World Champion and Olympic Bronze medal winner now works at Carle Clinic in Urbana. As a figure skater, she was a specialist in triple axels. Now as an orthopedic surgeon, Thomas specializes in hip replacements. She tells AM 580's Michael Koliska she doesn't miss the life of a figure skater.