Past Favorites with Alison Davis


For nearly twenty years, "Prairie Fire" shined a light on the unique people and places of central Illinois. Alison Davis worked on the original show, which aired from 1992 to 2008, first as a production assistant then later as the show's producer and host. With seven Emmy Awards under her belt and a passion for unearthing compelling characters and narratives, we wanted to sit down with Alison to revisit past stories and learn about the making of the original show.


"Prairie Fire" was created by Jeff Cunningham, who envisioned a show that would explore the deep roots of central Illinois while encouraging new innovation. The name was inspired by how a prairie fire burns away the grasses and exposes the roots, and the show sought to do the same by unearthing the region's untold stories.


Alison Davis, now a lecturer of journalism at the University of Illinois, began as Jeff Cunningham's production assistant. After Cunningham's departure, she took the reins as the show's producer and host. For Alison, the heart of a good story was always in the characters she encountered.

Alison fondly recalls some of the most memorable segments on "Prairie Fire," including the World Freefall Convention in Rantoul, IL, one on the Sangamon Ordnance Plant—a producer of ammunition in WWII—and diving into the world of demolition derby driver Tracy Neiman. We hope to continue the legacy that started back in 1992 as we continue to uncover fascinating stories through today’s reignited version of “Prairie Fire.”