Ken McCray

Screenshot from "all In Illinois" campaign


Danville pastor urges those “on the fence” to get vaccinated

DANVILLE - As we march toward the two-year point in the COVID-19 pandemic the headlines have become real life for many in Illinois.  One Vermilion County family, dealing with loss has now teamed up with the state in hopes of saving more lives. 

Pastor Ken McCray and his wife Rene have pastored a church in Danville since the late 1990s.

In May 2021, the couple traveled to a wedding and ended up with COVID. Both were unvaccinated. 

"It was uncertainty. We knew it needed to be done but I think every member of the family was uneasy about the shot," said McCray.

Once back at home, their conditions got worse and days later, Ken called 911 for Rene. She was taken to the hospital and when pastor McCray tried to follow his wife to ICU, a temperature check led to him being immediately admitted as well.  

Three weeks later, Pastor McCray was strong enough to come home. His wife was not. Rene died after spending 38 days on life support after being transferred to a hospital in Champaign. The McCrays shared 35 years of marriage and 3 grown children. 

"It is a difference in reading about somebody versus being that somebody so it resonated even more. I made it mandatory for my children," said McCray. "Even with my congregation, there’s a little more conviction with it now."

McCray says they often talked about getting vaccinated, but didn’t, now he’s working with the State of Illinois and the “All In for Illinois” ad campaign that aims to help people feel safe and comfortable about receiving the covid 19 vaccine. 

"For some people, it’s a realization that they’re not going to budge, but for those who are on the fence, it provides an opportunity to provide tools and information for consideration that can help move them to the other side," said McCray.

McCray says he’s also using his influence as a pastor to help others avoid falling prey to fear and misinformation. 

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., delivers his

AP Photo/File

The 21st Show - January 17, 2022

What was it like to work with Dr. King?

Back in 1963, Don Rose was an organizer for Midwest states at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. He’s made plenty of other marks in Chicago politics, but today we wanted to talk with him mostly about 1966, when Martin Luther King brought his civil rights work to Chicago, and Rose worked as his press secretary.

Alex Sierra, Trustee for the Southern District on the Peoria Park District Board of Trustees

Alexander & Kimberlee: Motivating Mass Movements / Facebook

The 21st Show - January 17, 2022

Interview: Alex Sierra

On February 4, 1968, at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a sermon called the “Drum Major Instinct.” “Everybody can be great,” he said, “because everybody can serve.” As we continued to look back at his life and legacy on this Martin Luther King Day, The 21st was joined by the 22-year-old Trustee serving on the Peoria Park District Board.

Carol Moseley Braun was the first Black woman to serve in the US Senate. She also served as the ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa under President Clinton.

Photo courtesy of PBS

The 21st Show - January 17, 2022

Interview: Carol Moseley Braun

Today on The 21st, we dedicated the entire hour to Dr. King’s legacy, beginning someone who says King paved the way for her own groundbreaking role as the first Black woman elected to the United States Senate. Former Illinois US Senator Carol Moseley Braun joined us to talk about how King inspired her, voting rights, and more. 

Dr. Manjul Shukla transfers Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at a mobile vaccination clinic in Worcester, Mass.

AP Photo/Steven Senne

The 21st Show - January 13, 2022

How are healthcare workers holding up?

The omicron surge is continuing to put a strain on hospitals and healthcare workers. We were joined by three frontline healthcare workers to discuss morale and experiences among healthcare workers during the pandemic. 

This Aug. 8, 2019, photo shows a plaster cast of footprints believed to be made by a Bigfoot on display at Expedition: Bigfoot! The Sasquatch Museum in Cherry Log, Ga. The owner of this intriguing piece of Americana at the southern edge of the Appalachians is David Bakara, a longtime member of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization who served in the Navy, drove long-haul trucks and tended bar before opening the museum in early 2016 with his wife, Malinda.

AP Photo/John Bazemore

The 21st Show - January 12, 2022

Illinois Bigfoot sightings and skepticism

A man driving from Cass to Tazewell County claims he spotted Bigfoot along Illinois 78 near Chandlerville. We were joined by the president of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization and a primatologist to discuss the legend, what it might take to prove the existence of a creature like Bigfoot, and more.

In this Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, photo, cannabis is grown at Revolution Global's cannabis cultivation center in Delavan, Ill.

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

The 21st Show - January 12, 2022

Where is the money from cannabis sales going?

Since recreational use became legal at the start of 2020, Illinoisans have spent more than $2 billion on cannabis. One aspect of the legalization effort in the state has programs aimed at reinvesting in communities disproportionately affected by the drug’s previous prohibition and the war on drugs.

Damaged farmhouse in North Okaw Township, Coles County following storms on December 10, 2021.

Emily Hays/Illinois Newsroom

The 21st Show - January 11, 2022

How tornadoes shape building codes

What have we learned from tornados like the one that struck Joplin, Missouiri? Could deaths, like those six people who were killed at an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville have been prevented? Some are saying yes, if the industry had allowed certain safeguards to be put in place. To discuss this, we were joined by a journalist who's been covering this issue and a professor of civil and environmental engineering.

Reginald Hardwick/Illinois Newsroom

The 21st Show - January 11, 2022

Preview of 2022 in Illinois politics

We are at the beginning of what’s expected to be an interesting year in Illinois politics, with expensive, rough political fights in both the primary and general elections. To discuss upcoming the new timeline for primaries, new legislative maps, the races for Statehouse and Congress and more, The 21st was joined by two political reporters.

A middle school principal walks the empty halls of his school as he speaks with one of his teachers to get an update on her COVID-19 symptoms, Friday, Aug., 20, 2021, in Wrightsville, Ga. On Monday, Dec. 27, 2021, U.S. health officials cut isolation restrictions for Americans who catch the coronavirus from 10 to five days, and also shortened the time that close contacts need to quarantine.

AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, File

The 21st Show - January 10, 2022

Understanding COVID testing and isolation guidelines

With COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations spiking around the country, changing guidance on isolation and testing, and schools restarting for the spring semester, we decided to dive into the best ways to stay safe as the omicron variant spreads. To help us understand more about best testing practices, omicron transmission, and the CDC’s latest guidelines, we were joined by two virologists. 

In this image made from video, an empty classroom is shown at David Ellis Academy in Detroit, Monday, Feb. 8, 2021.

AP Photo/Mike Householder File

The 21st Show - January 10, 2022

Reporter roundtable: Schools and COVID-19

School districts are again having to make tough decisions on how to conduct school.  Last week, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced that they and the Illinois State Board of Education would align with the CDC’s updated guidance on quarantine times and isolation periods. To talk about it, we were joined by education reporters from around the state.

Page 1 of 1645 pages  1 2 3 >  Last ›

Illinois Newsroom

Illinois Newsroom powered by WILL

Visit for the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic, including COVID-19 disease cases in Illinois.

Ask the Newsroom

Ask the Newsroom

WILL and Illinois Newsroom are hosting a COVID-19 Q&A via Facebook Live on Thursday, May 14, with a panel local public health officials and medical doctors from east-central Illinois. What questions do you have? Send us your questions to help inform the stories we tell and what we investigate.

Ask your questions about coronavirus in Illinois
Can we contact you?

WILL Highlights

The 21st

21st century radio for the 21st state. Weekdays at 11 am on WILL-AM 580.