WILL Pressroom

Brian Mackey joins Illinois Public Media as the Host/Producer of The 21st


Brian Mackey, longtime statehouse reporter for WUIS-FM and public radio stations across Illinois, joins Illinois Public Media in Urbana, Illinois as the new host/producer of The 21st. The statewide talk show—focusing on Illinois people and topics—airs Monday-Thursday at 11:00 a.m. on WILL-AM in Urbana, WGLT-FM in Normal, WNIJ-FM in DeKalb, and WUIS-FM in Springfield.

Brian Mackey headshot

Brian Mackey named new host of The 21st.

Photo Credit: Matt Penning

Mackey will make his debut as The 21st‘s full-time host on March 30. As part of social distancing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he will initially host the show from his home in central Illinois.

“In our era of political division, and our more recent introduction to social distancing, I believe in the power of conversation to bring people together,” said Mackey. “The 21st is a place where Illinoisans can hear from each other — and make themselves heard.”

Once these guidelines are lifted, Mackey will host The 21st from a variety of locations across the state, including the WILL studios in Urbana, the WUIS studios in Springfield, and the state Capitol. This flexibility allows for the show to be responsive to the state’s needs.

“As a frequent guest and guest host, I've found the collaboration that goes into making each episode of The 21st among the more gratifying experiences of my career,” he said. “I hope that collaboration extends to listeners across the state, as we work with and within communities to cover issues that are important to all Illinoisans.”

Mackey joins the Illinois Public Media team after spending eight years as the statehouse reporter for WUIS-FM, where he provided coverage of the Capitol for public radio stations throughout Illinois, including WILL. In addition, he appeared on the station’s week-in-review show State Week, and wrote in-depth features and a column for Illinois Issues magazine. Prior to working at WUIS, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register in Springfield and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.

“Mackey’s experience covering politics will be invaluable for listeners of The 21st,” said Reginald Hardwick, news and public affairs director at Illinois Public Media. “His presence in Springfield will help us elevate the essential statewide conversations we need to be having about what’s going on at the Capitol. His knowledge of the nation’s 21st state, in particular its arts and culture, will bring a lot of Illinois ‘flavor’ to this show, and I believe listeners will also enjoy his quick wit.”

In addition to statewide politics, The 21st has made plans to send a correspondent to this summer’s Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee and Republican National Convention in Charlotte. Although public health recommendations against mass gatherings might force the parties to cancel, The 21st will continue to highlight Illinois’ role in the national political conversation, bringing key issues in the election home to listeners.

Mackey earned a B.A. in Business Administration from Governors State University and an M.A. in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois Springfield.