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.
Illinois Public Media News
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.
The death from suicide of tenor Jerry Hadley (left, in 2000's The Song and the Slogan) touched many people in Illinois. Hadley died July 18, two days after he was taken off life support. While his singing career took him around the world, Hadley was an Illinois native who studied music at Bradley University and the University of Illinois. He often returned home to visit, perform and teach. AM 580's Jim Meadows talked with some of Hadley's Illinois friends to gather their memories.
A record label in Champaign is making a name for itself by selling old recordings... really old ones... some of them originally on wax cylinder. Archeophone Records specializes in music made between the late 1800's and the early 1920's - music that is virtually ignored by the big labels in this era of the iPod. Archeophone has been praised by scholars, and won a Grammy for its efforts. In a new version of a story first aired on March 5, AM 580's Jeff Bossert reports.
Each day China opens itself to thousands of visitors -- some on business, others on vacation. Still others come to China because there's no better place to learn their careers. AM 580's Tom Rogers is in China -- and last week he traveled into the interior to visit an Urbana man who's come to hone his craft.