Prairie Fire: Episode 2 - June 2023


On the June edition of Prairie Fire, we meet two Illinois artists of different stripes, learn the history of the University of Illinois’ famous cherry blossom trees and hear some not-so-kind words about the Prairie from author Charles Dickens (yes, that Charles Dickens).

Preston Jackson

We visited with renowned Illinois painter and sculptor Preston Jackson in Peoria. Jackson's works documenting the Black experience appear all over the United States.

The Cherry Blossoms at Japan House

The man who helped bring cherry blossom trees to the University of Illinois campus turned 100 this year. Tinisha Spain marks the milestone with a brief history of the Cherry Blossoms and the trees here in Central Illinois  that are still a popular attraction at the Japan House. We also learn about the Japanese philosophy of seeing beauty in everything around you, and the impermanence of all things…

High Cross Sound

Anthony Gravino had a successful career in Chicago as a recording engineer and music producer. But when he saw an old barn on a rural road outside Urbana, Illinois, he envisioned it as the recording studio of his dreams. And then he went to work making it a reality. Gravino talks about his career and the journey that brought him back to his roots in a small central Illinois town. We also get an inside look at High Cross Sound, his fabulous and unique studio!

Charles Dickens Visits Illinois

Charles Dickens is --without question -- one of the greatest authors who ever lived. But boy was he grumpy about the Midwest when he came here in 1842. Mister Dickens will regale us with his less than flattering thoughts about the Prairie.

Prairie Fire airs on the Third Thursday of each month on WILL-TV.  You can also stream it on Youtube or the PBS App, where you can also find past episodes! Catch up on all past Prairie Fire stories below.