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.

Missouri health officials expect to vaccinate all health care workers by the end of January, followed by teachers and other essential workers.

National Museum of African American Music

The National Musuem of African American Music in Nashville, Tennessee is getting ready to open its doors to the public after nearly 20-years in the making.   The museum holds its ribbon cutting on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday, January 18, 2021.     WSIU's Jeff Williams talks with the musuem's President and CEO, H. Beecher Hicks III, about the muesum and the impact of black musicians on the soundtrack of America.

A Davenport PE coach started making videos to keep his students active during quarantine. Now, he’s gone viral internationally. 


Several workers in masks pushing a dolly full of boxes.
Carle Richland Memorial Hospital

The COVID-19 vaccine holds promise for bringing an end to the pandemic. But some have questioned the rapid development of the vaccine — so I talked with some scientists about how pharmaceutical companies were able to work so quickly.

Michael Olson is an assistant professor of immunology with SIU School of Medicine. He saidthe first thing to understand how the body develops an immune response.

Baltz Commentary: Creating Backyard Parks

Jan 11, 2021
Photo courtesy of Mike Baltz

On his monthy feature, Ornithologist Mike Baltz talks about the importance of creating a more wildlife friendly backyard.

On Chicago’s Southwest side, a colorful mural pays tribute to America’s essential workers. It features three of the community’s very own: Rosalinda, a retail clerk; Javier, a postal carrier and Juan, a butcher shop worker. Underneath their portraits are the words El Corazon de Chicago: The heart of Chicago.

Cheryl LeFevre doesn’t drink the water in Hobart, Oklahoma without a filter. Without a filter, sometimes the water smells like chlorine or rust. Sometimes, it even comes out brown. She has to clean out her filter every two weeks, with what looks like sediment inside. 

As she pours water into a glass from her kitchen on a late afternoon in December, the water comes out clear. She says it still tastes like dirty water and has an aftertaste. 

“Some days it's like this, you know, clear and just fine,” LeFevre says. “And some days it's got all of that gunk in it.” 

Standing in her kitchen, Therese Richardson is making her favorite recipe. “The honey dijon roasted pork tenderloin. I like that one,” the 50-year-old Indianapolis woman says.

Richardson has Type 2 diabetes, meaning that cells in her body are resistant to insulin, causing her blood sugar levels to rise. Eating vegetables and other healthy food helps her avoid serious complications — and lowers blood sugar levels.

siu logo

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with SIU Admissions Director John Frost and Alumni Association Executive Director Jeff Gleim about the new "Recruit A Saluki" program.

Local Ties Help Shape "The Prom"

Dec 31, 2020

WSIU's Leah Lerner talks with writer and lyricist Chad Beguelin - a Centralia native who co-authored "The Prom" on Netflix.

Megan Miedema is a mother of two in Chicago. In October, she started to feel back pain but was hesitant to go to the doctor. She worried about getting COVID-19 and bringing it back home. 


Vaccinations for COVID-19 are being administered throughout the country.

WSIU's Brad Palmer recently talked with two doctors at Union County Hospital in Anna who were among the first in Illinois to receive the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. Doctor B.J. Reach received his shot on December 16 and his wife Doctor Pamela Hunter-Reach got hers on December 18.

SIU Brings Bucky's Legacy to a New Generation

Dec 28, 2020
Mick Haupt unslpash

On this edition of WSIU InFocus, Pioneering Design Professor Buckminster Fuller's ideas are being brought to today's SIU Students, as a part of an Honors Class on the SIU Carbondale Campus.

William Rentel, a nurse practitioner in Ohio, has Type 1 diabetes but has been able to keep his blood sugar well-managed.

That changed when he and his wife contracted COVID-19 this spring.

“I found myself needing to use double the amount of insulin I would normally use to get my blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible,” recalls Rentel, who works at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “That’s when I knew something was very wrong.”

COVID-19 And Diabetes Can Be A Dangerous Mix

Dec 23, 2020

Agatha Walston leads a busy life.

The Pinckneyville Correctional Center has become the first in Illinois to earn accreditation from a national organization which has a mission of shaping the future of corrections and improving the justice system.

WSIU's Brad Palmer recently spoke with Pinckneyville Warden Jeffery Dennison about how his facility was able to earn recognition from The American Correctional Association in expedited fashion and during a public health crisis.

Southern Illinois University

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with SIU President Dan Mahony as he closes out 2020 and prepares for 2021 as the system's CEO.

Even As COVID-19 Surges, Misinformation Persists

Dec 17, 2020

COVID-19 vaccines could one day end the pandemic. But at the moment, cases — and deaths — continue to rise. So does misinformation about the disease.

One comment often seen on social media is that deaths are being attributed to COVID even when the patient died of something else. Dr. Sonal Shah, a hospitalist at Southern Illinois Healthcare, says some of that confusion may come from death certificates having two fields. 

Refuge Temple Church
Benjy Jeffords / WSIU

A church in Marion is doing what it can to help the community and offer some relief.

The Refuge Temple Church in Marion will be giving away 1000 boxes of food every Monday until Christmas.

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with SIU Political Science Department Chair Tobin Grant about the 2020 Electoral College vote, and how it compares to previous elections.

Sebastian Unrau/Unsplash

On this edition of WSIU InFocus, Ornithologist Dr. Mike Baltz looks back on the last 50 year's worth of Earth Day celebrations and points out the ups and downs of the conservation movement.


WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with author Laurent Pernot about his new book, "There and Here: Small Illinois Towns with Big Names."

When it comes to identifying cows, Jake Calvert, a rancher from Norman, OK, goes by the KISS Principle: keep it simple, stupid. 

“Green is for grade cattle. Pink is for our purebred cows, and that's because all of them exhibit just a little bit more femininity than our grade cattle. Yellow is the bull,” Calvert says.

Drug manufacturers have released promising early results for their COVID-19 vaccines, but skepticism among Americans remains high -- especially for African Americans, who the virus has hit harder than other groups.

Southern Illinois University

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with SIUC Chancellor Austin Lane. 

Raging California wildfires on one coast and the most active Atlantic hurricane season in history on the other are just two examples of how our climate is changing. It's also changing how the insurance industry prepares for increased risk of property damage and in some cases, in trying to prevent it.

Celebrating the Holidays during COVID-19

Dec 4, 2020
Cara Grobbelaar/Unsplash

On this edition of WSIU InFocus, we speak with local residents who are involved in Christmas displays and hear of the challenges in doing so during this very challenging time.

We will also hear from a mental health professional about coping with loss during the holiday season.

At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, ethanol producers feared the worst: a world indefinitely stuck at home. As Americans hunkered down for lockdowns, gasoline demand across the country plummeted.

Ethanol industry leaders issued warnings that the financial repercussions of widespread lockdowns could be significant to plants across the country. They later reported half of the nation’s facilities were forced to shut down.

Southern Illinois Collaborative Kitchen

The Southern Illinois Collaborative Kitchen began during the COVID-19 pandemic as local restaurant owners looked for ways to keep their businesses afloat and feed those in the community experience food insecurity.

When it comes to assessing scientific evidence, conservatives place more value on personal anecdotes, while liberals put more stock into what the experts are saying. Those are among the recent findings by Eureka College's Alexander Swan and his colleagues.