Patterns Articles

Building a space to elevate the voices and issues of the Black community

Five people stand together

Jill Clements (middle) stands with News, Brews and Beatz hosts and panelists

Jill Clements, assistant corporate support director, joined the Illinois Public Media team back in 2017. Her day-to-day responsibilities include securing corporate sponsorships (underwriting) for WILL-AM, -FM, and -TV from local, regional, and national businesses, which makes up a large portion of our annual revenue. However, last year Clements found herself developing News, Brews & Beatz, an important community outreach program.

In November of 2022, Clements was honored by Public Media for All as runner-up for its Development Award in recognition of her strong commitment to diversifying Illinois Public Media’s efforts, particularly for creating and leading News, Brews & Beatz. Not only have these events initiated important community conversations about youth violence and diversity issues in our local school districts, they also brought in new and diverse underwriters to support these events. Jill’s work has provided Illinois Public Media with new outreach to community leaders and forged new partnerships within our local Black communities.

Q. How did News, Brews & Beatz come about and what was your involvement?

A. News, Brews & Beatz was created to serve as a nontraditional, safe space for diverse voices to come together and engage in the difficult conversations about community gun violence. As the creator, for me the vision was simply an extension of Illinois Public Media’s mission to produce engaging, educational, and inspiring content, while intentionally reaching and super-serving the central Illinois African American communities. NB&B is partnering with the City of Champaign Community Coalition and features a variety of African American experts, co-hosts, and artists quarterly at Pour Bros. Craft Taproom in downtown Champaign. Audiences can also view the special event on our YouTube channel (@ILPublicMedia), and upcoming landing page on the IPM website.

Q. What is the goal of the program?

 A. The goal of NB&B is to address what Champaign-Urbana is currently doing to combat gun violence, including mental health services for teens and families, after-school and weekend youth and teen programs, and outreach services available at our elementary, middle, and high schools. The panel of quarterly experts comes and shares success stories and challenges, along with data regarding additional needs that would help in reducing the violence.

Q. Why do you think this event is important for the C-U community?

A. Gun violence is not just a national issue but it’s a local issue that impacts us all. The central Illinois area is fortunate to be a resource rich community and can be a leader in developing creative and realistic solutions to address this crisis.

Q. What is the hardest part of your job?

A. There are so many more special events and media projects to be created for the central Illinois African American audiences, a demographic that currently has no local media serving its interests. This paramount void needs to be filled but will require a visionary who’s willing to pick up the torch and secure the needed funding and people power. I hope to be a part of that mission.