WSIU InFocus


WSIU takes a closer look at issues around the region. From arts and entertainment, to science and nature, the environment, politics, and other topics people are talking about.

Carbondale / Carbondale

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry and City Manager Gary Williams. Communities across the region have lost revenue due to the COVID-19 restrictions, and leaders say they're hopeful as people get back out, there will be a positive economic impact.

SIU Press

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with SIU Press Interim Co-Director Amy Etcheson and SIU Senior Fiction Writer Pinckney Benedict about the new Blanket Fort Radio Theater - a new podcast collaboration between WSIU, SIU Press, and SIUC's Creative Writing Program.


As a part of the "Understanding Our New World" series, Paul Simon Public Policy Institute Executive Director John Shaw spoke with former White House Chief of Staff, CIA Director, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.


WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with The Poynter Institute's MediaWise Editorial Director Kristyn Wellesley about the project, its origins, and where they're taking it in 2020.

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller reports on SIU's Conversation of Understanding, the first in a series of town hall-style events to address racism and other issues across the system. 

When physician Erik Martin left his home in southwest Missouri to help with New York’s COVID-19 outbreak in April, his county had fewer than 10 confirmed cases of the virus. Now he’s back — and watching those numbers skyrocket. More than 400 Jasper County residents have tested positive, and more than 800 are in quarantine.

“I never expected that within such a short period of time, my home town would become a COVID hotspot, as it has now," Martin says. He was alarmed when he learned a patient who tested positive worked at the Butterball poultry processing plant in nearby Carthage. After seeing a second Butterball worker, Martin alerted the county health department to the potential outbreak.

Transgender Healthcare Is A Challenge In Rural Areas

Jun 25, 2020
DarkoStojanovic / Pixabay

June marks Pride Month each year. Previously, we published a conversation between a local doctor and his patient on transgender healthcare. One of the topics they discussed was the learning curve doctors face when treating patients in the trans community.

Other doctors echo this point, saying they’ve had to do their own research and training to be able to treat the patients who’ve come to them for care.

A Conversation On Healthcare And The Trans Community

Jun 24, 2020

June marks Pride Month each year. Last March, Storycorps came to Carbondale to speak with southern Illinoisans about their lives. Neither Chip Loghry or Matin Nekzard are originally from southern Illinois, though both call it home now. Loghry moved here as a child, and Nekzad and his wife came to the U.S. after fleeing Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion of the 1980s. Nekzad, who works for Shawnee Healthcare, is Loghry’s doctor, and one of the few in the area to treat transgender patients.

Illinois Farm Bureau

WSIU's Brad Palmer reports on a campaign to highlight Illinois agricultural diversity and raises consumer awareness statewide, nationwide, and globally of the foods raised and sold in southern Illinois and throughout the state.

Southern Illinois University

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with SIU President Dan Mahony, as he prepares for a virtual town hall focusing on racism and bias.

Mahony also addresses challenges the university faces because of COVID-19, and plans for the coming weeks and months.

What Effect Will Dicamba Ban Have on Local Growers?

Jun 18, 2020
Meredith Petrick-Unsplash

Thanks to a ruling by the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the herbicde Dicamba will soon be banned.

Just a few months ago, LuAnn Cooper and her client Margie went on lots of outings together — exercising at the gym, grocery shopping, getting ice cream. 

But the pandemic put a stop to those trips.

Margie, who has a developmental disability, hasn’t been able to leave her home in Washington, Missouri, since March. 

Demonstrations are flaring up across the country to protest the deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police. They’re also calling attention to broader inequalities. One of those areas—health disparities—kills Black Americans in massive numbers.

Does having more officers in a school automatically mean more safety? More and more school districts are questioning that premise after protests sparked from the killing of George Floyd.

Paul Simon Public Policy Institute

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with Paul Simon Public Policy Institute Director John Shaw about a new book list, focusing on Illinois. The list includes recommendations from historians, past and present lawmakers, political experts and more.


In part 2 of our report on former Saluki hammer thrower Gwen Berry's involvement in bringing light to racial inequality and police brutality, WSIU's Brad Palmer reveals Berry's thoughts on the current Black Lives Matter demonstrations and her advice to her teenage son on how to stay safe.


In part 1 of 2, WSIU's Brad Palmer has the story of U.S. Olympic and former SIU hammer thrower Gwen Berry's personal racial inequality protest at the 2019 Pan Am Games and the impact it has had on her.


WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with Interim SIUC Chancellor John Dunn, as he prepares to retire at the end of June.

WSIU/Kevin boucher

In his monthly original nature commentary, Ornithologist Dr. Mike Baltz explores the possibility that  COVID-19 is having an impact on how we look at nature.

On Monday, Allaijah Davis and her friends Nykeyla Henderson and Ariona Fairlee led an estimated 1,000 peaceful demonstrators down Capitol Avenue in Springfield.

Studies have found the rates of mental illness and suicide are higher for farmers. They work long hours, have limited social contact and are at the mercy of factors such as weather. Now the COVID-19 pandemic is creating even greater challenges to their livelihood—and mental health. 


WSIU's Brad Palmer talks with Natalie Fry, the principal and curriculum coordinator at Harrisburg East Side Intermediate School, about distance learning and the uncertainty for schools in the fall.

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry after a peaceful vigil in Carbondale calling for an end to racism and police brutality, along with burglaries of several businesses.

Here’s something that might surprise you: A new national survey shows that regardless of political affiliation, Americans mostly agree on how to reopen the economy during the coronavirus pandemic—slowly—and with protective measures like face masks.

Amelia Blakely

The Great Midwestern Flood of 2019 cost Alexander County millions of dollars in damages and the hope of a future for its farmers along the Mississippi River. 

Months-long flooding and a breached levee now leave farmers, whose fields are filled with sand, debris, runaway barges, scoured several feet deep, or inaccesible because of high water covering the road, unsure of what to do next. 

COVID-19 Hits Volunteer Fire Departments' Funding

May 27, 2020

Since public gatherings in Illinois are still limited to 10 or fewer people, the Campbell Hill Fire Department has not been able to have its usual public chicken dinners and other fundraisers.

Southern Illinois University

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with SIU President Dan Mahony, as he guides the system in its plans for Fall 2020 amid the COVID-19 crisis.

An Iowa  Writer and Producer is in the planning stages of making a movie about General John A. Logan, with shooting scheduled to begin in the Summer of 2021.

COVID-19 Mask Makers Are Part Of A Bigger History

May 22, 2020
A collage of women wearing masks.
Karina Neill

As the U.S. struggles with shortages of personal protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic, volunteers have jumped into action. Around the country people are sewing masks, for healthcare workers and community members at risk for contracting COVID-19. But sewing for a cause fits into a much bigger history.

On this edition of WSIU InFocus, we hear from Jean Rendleman Miner, Academic Advisor in the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts at SIUC  and Rita Medina, Coordinator for Recruitment and Retention at the College, about the anxiety and uncertainty many college students are going through.