WSIU Radio Listening Project Series Featuring Benton, Ill. Residents Premieres July 6

Jul 1, 2016

For Immediate Release

Credit Brittany Hewerdine, WSIU

Friday, July 1, 2016

Contact: Kevin Boucher, WSIU Community Engagement Producer, WSIU Radio, (618) 4348,; Jeff Williams, WSIU Radio General Manager, (618) 453-6170,

Benton resident and retired coal miner Jack McReynolds.
Credit Pearl Franz, WSIU

WSIU Radio Listening Project Series Featuring Benton, Illinois Residents to Premiere July 6

Carbondale, ILWSIU Public Radio, a public media service of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, will broadcast a WSIU Radio Listening Project special featuring select excerpts from first-person interviews with Benton, Ill. residents on Wednesdays at 7:44am and 4:44pm from July 6 through August 31 on WSIU 91.9 FM, WUSI 90.3 FM, and WVSI 88.9 FM.

WSIU traveled to the Benton Library on May 21, 2016 to record interviews with residents as part of the library’s centennial celebration. With assistance from event organizer Becky Lewis and library director Susan Stickel, WSIU Radio Community Engagement Producer, Kevin Boucher, captured fascinating interviews from nearly a dozen Benton residents.

Among the guests are Bob Blondi and his son, Rob, who shared stories about their Italian heritage; retired southern Illinois coal miner Jack McReynolds who joined journalist Jim Muir for an enlightening discussion about life underground; basketball coach Rich Herrin, and former team members of winning Benton High School boys’ basketball teams, who shared life lessons learned on and off the court; and historian Bob Rea, who talked about pivotal moments in regional history, including the impact of the Orient mine disaster on area families and on mining regulations,

Other guests include retired educator Debbie Clark, who saw the library as a place of safety and exploration when she was the new kid in town; Rose Savko, who recalls the profound impact the library had on her as young child growing up in an immigrant neighborhood during the Depression; retired Benton school principal Gene Alexander, affectionately known as “Mr. A.”, who paints large-scale U.S. maps for schools across the country; and Margot McAfoos, who recounts her experiences coming to the U.S. from Germany as a WWII-era bride.

Full interviews will be available online at

WSIU Radio plans to record more Listening Project features at events across the region in the future. For more information, contact Jeff Williams, WSIU Radio General Manager, at (618) 453-6170 or

About WSIU Public Broadcasting

WSIU Public Broadcasting is licensed to the Board of Trustees of Southern Illinois University and is an integral part of the College of Mass Communication & Media Arts on the Carbondale campus. The WSIU stations reach more than three million people across five states and beyond through three digital public television channels, three public radio stations, a radio information service, a website, and an education and community outreach department.

WSIU's mission is to improve the quality of life of the people they serve. The WSIU stations partner with other community organizations to promote positive change and to support the academic and public service missions of Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Learn more and get the latest station news online at and on WSIU's Facebook and Twitter pages.

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