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.

What does an entertainment journalist do when he can’t cover events? Seth Johnson talks about his experience learning new skills — including creating radio diaries for Side Effects — during the pandemic. Part 1 of our Move to Include series on how people with disabilities are coping during this nationwide public health crisis. 

Rural Areas Face Challenges In COVID Vaccine Rollout

Feb 12, 2021

Across the Midwest, the rollout of COVID vaccines has been spotty. Lots of people are having a trouble with online signups. And vaccine demand far exceeds supply. That’s made the process challenging, especially in rural areas. 

SIU School of Law

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with Prof. John Brittain about his lecture, "Awakening, Reckoning, and Mindfulness in 2020."

SIU Foundation

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with SIU Foundation CEO Matt Kupec about Day of Giving 2021, and how it's changed given the COVID-19 pandemic.

Southern Illinois University

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with SIUC Chancellor Austin Lane about his plans for Spring 2021 and beyond.

WSIU/Kevin boucher

Ornithologist Mike Baltz gives his comments on why should we feed birds.

An expert believes the economy will look different as we rebound from the pandemic-related recession, and he said some post-pandemic economic trends are already beginning to emerge.

Paul Simon Public Policy Institute

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute's John Jackson about an unprecedented second impeachment trial for former President Donald Trump, COVID-19 relief, the political divide in Washington, and more.

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks wtih Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry.

St. Louis Public Radio File Photo by Eric Schmid

The line outside the Metro East’s first recreational marijuana dispensary was already long hours before it opened for the first time last January.

Hundreds of people packed themselves into a tight metal maze that could barely contain the growing crowd at Ascend in Collinsville. The line continued away from the building, snaking along a nearby sidewalk, its tail winding out of sight.


WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

SIU Researcher Discusses New COVID Variant

Jan 26, 2021
A virus protein with spikes.
Daniel Roberts / Pixabay

SIU researchers have discovered a new variant of the coronavirus. I sat down with assistant professor of biochemistry, Keith Gagnon, whose RNA lab discovered the new strain.

Gagnon said the new variant appears to be unique and widespread.

“It has a set of mutations that are distinct and different from those that we've seen previously, including the UK variants,” Gagnon said. “So we're going to give it a different name. And it appears to have emerged in the US and spread to the US pretty widely and is now one of the most dominant forms”

Southern Illinois University

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with SIU President Dan Mahony. 

State Climatologist Trent Ford Summarizes 2020 Weather

Jan 22, 2021
Dave Hoefler Unsplash

On this edition of WSIU InFocus, Illinois State Climatologist Trent Ford looks back on the 2020 weather year.

Illinois Treasurer

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs about his office's Charitable Trust program, along with the state's Bright Start college savings plan and more.

As soon as COVID-19 hit, there was a massive jump in telemedicine visits. A Centers for Disease Control study found that in March 2020 there was a 154% increase compared to the previous year.

Now it’s clear the coronavirus has dramatically changed the way Americans get medical care. But some of these virtual options remain out of reach for the most vulnerable populations, like seniors.

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.”