Illinois Public Media News

AP - Illinois Public Media News - April 02, 2009

The Uncertain Fate of Champaign’s Art Theatre and Art Movies

The operator of Boardman's Art Theatre in Champaign is apparently looking to relocate as the building's owner looks for either a new tenant, or to sell the facility for another use.

Owner David Kraft says the rent of 4 dollars a square foot he's charging isn't near the market rate... and he can't afford to charge that little when factoring in expenses like real estate tax, water, trash, and sewer rates. Kraft says he's made operator Greg Boardman an offer of just under 9-dollars a square foot.

"If he won't pay that and no one will pay that, then I think everybody needs to look and determine if there's demand for this, if there's sufficient interest," Kraft said. "If no one is willing to pay near market rent, then maybe we do have to look at different ideas."

Kraft suggests there may not be room for a movie theater anymore when considering what other downtown businesses are paying for first floor retail space. He's looking to sell the Church Street building for just over $1 million.

Kraft says he's drawn interest for other theater operators, but nothing concrete.

Boardman's lease on the Church Street location expires in December. He couldn't be reached for comment, but the co-owner of a building across the street... Bill Capel... confirms Boardman toured his facility last month. That building houses the old Rialto Theater. Capel says any talk of moving Boardman's there would include extensive talk about renovations.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - March 27, 2009

Arcola’s Raggedy Ann Museum To Close

The co-founder of the Raggedy Ann and Andy Museum in Arcola says it was a sad decision but a necessary one - the museum will close this summer and most exhibits moved to a museum in New York.

Joni Gruelle Wannamaker is the granddaughter of Johnny Gruelle, who was raised in Arcola and created the scruffy red-haired dolls in 1915. Wannamaker says she and her husband Tom left their jobs in Atlanta ten years ago to build the museum, but she says advancing age, declining attendance - and a drop in overall tourism in the Douglas County area -- forced the decision to close.

"We have done a lot of advertising over the years, advertising for Arcola and the surrounding area," Wannamaker said. "But perhaps there was a change at the Chamber of Commerce...I just don't know."

Wannamaker says she and Tom were impressed with the museum where the Raggedy Ann and Andy exhibits will be headed, the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester New York - the dolls are already in that museum's National Toy Hall of Fame. But Wannamaker says she and her husband are staying in Arcola.

Categories: Community, History, Recreation

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - February 19, 2008

WORLD WAR II: CENTRAL ILLINOIS STORIES Illinois’ Tuskegee Airmen

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.

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Categories: Biography, History
Tags: people, history

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - February 19, 2008

A Comedic Look at Urbana History

A six foot long cake loaded with historical pictures and live music highlighted Urbana's 175th birthday celebration at Lincoln Square Village. History was the theme -- and not just in edible form. Historians tell us that Urbana's founding fathers had a name before they even found a perfect location for the city. The Zoo Theatre Improv Group (R to L: Sean Whitsitt, Aubrey Wachtel and Brian Hagy) has put its spin on the unusual founding of Urbana, and how it might have been when Abraham Lincoln came to Urbana for the very first time.

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Categories: Community, History

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - December 27, 2007

Rose Bowl ‘47

The upcoming rose Bowl between Illinois and USC will carry on a tradition that's more than six decades old. In 1947, Illinois played in the first Rose Bowl to pit the champion of what was then called the Big Nine against the Pacific Coast Conference champion (now called the Pac 10). Radio was still the nation's dominant broadcast medium, and it covered not only the game itself but the buildup and the aftermath. Recordings of those broadcasts have been stored in the University of Illinois Archives ever since. Matt Ehrlich takes us back 61 years to when the Fighting Illini headed west looking for respect.

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Categories: Education, History, Sports

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - December 17, 2007

WORLD WAR II: CENTRAL ILLINOIS STORIES - The Battle of the Bulge

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.

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Categories: Biography, History
Tags: people, history


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - September 19, 2007

To Fight or Not to Fight

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.

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Categories: Biography, History, Religion

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - July 27, 2007

Unfolding Champaign-Urbana’s History

A day old newspaper may be good for lining a birdcage, but a 90-year old newspaper can be a doorway into history. Now, the University of Illinois is putting the earliest years of the old Urbana Daily Courier online, providing a glimpse at the people and events of another era. AM 580's Jeff Bossert reports.

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Categories: Education, History

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - June 15, 2007

Post-Soviet Dissent

Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is the subject of a three-day forum at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. At age 88, the author of "The Gulag Archipelago" rarely leaves his home near Moscow. But his wife and two of his sons are taking part in the forum. AM 580's Jim Meadows talked with Natalya Solzhenitsyn about her husband's work since returning to Russia.

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Categories: Education, History

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