The Listening Project

Web Series

WSIU Radio's The Listening Project is a regular reoccurring series that chronicles the stories, experiences, and history of the people who call this region home.   The Listening Project is a community engagement initiative focused on preserving the stories of the quad-state region in the form of oral histories.

This installment of The Listening Project features select excerpts from first-person interviews with Benton, IL  residents who came together in May 2016 to celebrate Benton Library's centennial celebration. Listen to the interviews from nearly a dozen Benton residents who celebrated this community milestone by sharing stories about their heritage, coal mining, life lessons learned through sports, WWII stories, regional histories and more!

The Listening Project is sponsored by
Southern Illinois Healthcare:

Ways to Connect

photo of Judy Courter
Pegasus

This week on WSIU's Listening Project we hear the story of Judy Courter.  Growing up in the late 50's and 60's she recalls the building of Interstate 57 in southern Illinois as well as talks about a personal tie to the construction of Rend Lake.

Pearl Franz / WSIU

This week on the Listening Project, our story gives us a glimpse of what it was like growing up in southern Illinois during the 1960's as viewed through the eyes of a child.

Mark Stirneman grew up in Christopher, but fondly remembers his visits to the big city of Benton.  Mark sat down with fellow southern Illinois native Jim Muir to recall those days.   Their story was recorded as part of the 100th Anniversary of the Benton Public Library.  WSIU’s listening project chronicles the history of our region by connecting people with place through their stories.

Pearl Franz / WSIU

This week on the Listening Project longtime Benton resident Rose Savko talks about growing up with the old Benton Public Library and how important the library was to her. 

Rose's story was recorded as part of the 100th Anniversary celebration of the Benton Public Library.

More Stories...

On growing up during the Great Depression:

Rose talks about growing up in Benton during the depression in the 1930's.

On how her father came to southern Illinois from Italy:

Pearl Franz / WSIU

Today's story comes from Susan Stickel and Mary Eubanks.  Susan is the Director of the Benton Public Library and Mary is a former employee and longtime volunteer.  They recently took part in the Listening Project where they talked about some of the history of the library.  

Their story was recorded as part of the 100th Anniversary of the Benton Public Library. 

Pearl Franz / WSIU

Today we continue to explore the history of southern Illinois with the story of 90-year old Jane Campbell-Brown.  Her family has been in the furniture business for nine generations.   She sat down with Jim Muir to talk about growing up in Benton.

Her story was recorded on May 21, 2016 as part of the 100th anniversary of the Benton Public Library. WSIU’s Listening Project chronicles the history of our region by connecting people with place through their stories.   

Pearl Franz / WSIU

Today we continue to explore the history of southern Illinois through the  Listening Project.  Ours story is that of Gene Alexander - a beloved elementary school teacher and principal of more than 30 years in Benton.  Now, at age 81, he's known simply as "Mr. A" - the guy who paints maps of the United States on playgrounds across the region.
 

Gene Alexander's story was recorded as part of the 100th anniversary of the Benton Public Library.

Pearl Franz / WSIU

From 1960 until 1985 Rich Herrin and the Benton Rangers forged high school basketball history with more than 500 wins, four undefeated seasons and 21 regional tournament titles.  Coach Herrin and four of his former players - Rich Yunkus, Terry Thomas, Hugh Frailey, and Bill Smith - sat down recently to reminisce for this week's edition of WSIU's Listening Project.

Their conversation was recorded as part of the 100th Anniversary of the Benton Public Library.

More Stories:

On getting his players scholarships and jobs...

Pearl Franz / WSIU

Today we turn our attention to sports for this week's installment of  WSIU's Listening Project.  For years the name Bob Blondi has been synonymous with high school and college sports in southern Illinois and throughout the Midwest.  The Illinois Sports Hall of Fame referee presided over games for 50-years. 

Recently his son Bobby Blondi and grandson Rob Blondi shared some of their memories of the man who was the son of Italian immigrants and left an indelible mark on Benton High School and southern Illinois sports.

Pearl Franz / WSIU

This week's installment of the Listening Project features long-time southern Illinois coal miner Jack McReynolds.  The West Frankfort native recalls his first days on the job back in 1960 at the Orient #5 Mine in Franklin County.  Jack's story was recorded as part of the 100th Anniversary of the Benton Public Library.

Pearl Franz / WSIU

This week WSIU's Listening Project features a history lesson with Bob Rea, President of the Franklin County Historic Preservation Society.   Bob talks about how coal became king in Franklin county and also describe some little know history that dates back more than 300 years.

Today we continue with the Listening Project, a special series that chronicles the history of our region by connecting people with place through oral history.  Debbie Clark of Benton talks about moving to southern Illinois as a child when her father relocated their family from West Virginia.    Her story was recorded as part of the 100th Anniversary of the Benton Public Library.

Stay tuned for more stories from our Listening Project visit to Benton.

Pearl Franz/WSIU

On Saturday, May 21st 2016 WSIU's Listening Project recorded oral histories from Benton residents at the 100th Anniversary Celebration  at the Benton Public Library.  In this episode we hear the story of German-born Margot McAfoos who moved to Benton from Germany in 1948 to marry her soon-to-be-husband John.

WSIU

Today we conclude our Listening Project special series on race and equality.

WSIU

Today  we continue our series  The Listening  Project. The past few weeks we've heard individuals talk about their personal experience with racial and social inequality. 

WSIU

Today we continue our new series  The Listening Project.  The past couple of weeks we've heard individuals talk about their personal experience with racial and social inequality. 

WSIU

Fifty years ago the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination based on race, sex, or religion.  In the intervening years how much progress has our society made in improving racial and social equality?

WSIU

Fifty Years ago the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination based on race, sex, or religion.  In the intervening years how much progress has society made in improving racial and social inequality?   WSIU Radio's new community engagement series The Listening Project visited with participants at Carbondale Community Arts University 2014 commemoration of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  As part of that program CCA hosted a Race Card Project installment.  The Race Card Project is a national initiative that asks people to talk about their experience with race in six words.