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.


The new academic year is scheduled to start within the next few weeks. Public school leaders are grappling with how to bring kids back to the classroom safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. What about smaller, private schools. Is their job easier?

WSIU's Brad Palmer talked to Carbondale New School director and lead teacher Kathy Compton about how her school – an independent, not-for-profit private school for students from Pre-K through 8th grade-- is getting ready for the start of the new year.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States has experienced unemployment figures not seen since the Great Depression. But Bill Polley, Associate Professor of Economics at Western Illinois University, said the Great Depression is more akin to the Great Recession of 2008 than to this year's economic freefall.

Southern Illinois University

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with SIU President Dan Mahony about how the university system is preparing for students to return amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A federal court in California recently vacated the three popular dicamba herbicides

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller caught up with SIH CEO Rex Budde about the growing number of COVID-19 cases in his oranization's service area, along with what he expects for the next several weeks and months.

School Will look Different In 2020

Jul 22, 2020
School Safety /

In June the Illinois State Board of Education release guidelines for returning to school in the fall.

Under those guidelines administrators say things will be different when the students return because of COVID-19.

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with 40 Below Joe creator Curt Jones about his new endeavor, along with ties to Southern Illinois University and plans for the future.

This story was updated on July 24, 2020 to include additional information on deaths in group homes.

One of the ways Mikaela Coppedge has coped during the COVID-19 pandemic has been through writing poetry. Her poem “The Fear That Is COVID-19," starts: 

“Since the coronavirus outbreak and then the quarantine beginning, life as we know has all somewhat gone to hell.” 

Coppedge has a rare brain disease called Rasmussen’s encephalitis. As a treatment, half her brain was removed when she was three years old.  

Ali Schroer was just out of college when she started her first teaching job, but her new insurance plan didn’t cover her allergy medication. 

"So this new allergist that I was seeing in Colorado had said, after several go arounds of me asking to take this medication, said, ‘Oh, well actually know that you can just get it online.”'

Seth Thompson learned about COVID-19 early.  He’s an engineer in Carthage, Missouri, a town of just under 15,000 that sits along historic Route 66 in the southwest corner of the state. The virus first came to Thompson’s attention in February, when the global firm he works for shut down its offices in China. Back then, the danger seemed remote.

Southern Illinois University

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with SIUC Chancellor Austin Lane, as the campus prepares to welcome back students, faculty, and staff for the Fall 2020 semester.

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with former State Representative Roger Eddy, who has written about his time in the Illinois legislature and during the impeachment of Rod Blagojevich in his new book, "A Front Row Seat."

SIU Salukis

SIU is one of hundreds of universities trying to figure out how to get athletes back on the field amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Some returned to campus recently, and leaders say they're keeping a close eye on things. SIU-C Athletic Director Liz Jarnigan talks with WSIU's Brad Palmer about the situation.


Many states have seen large outbreaks of COVID-19 in prisons. The warden at a southern Illinois correctional facility talks with WSIU's Brad Palmer about what his facility is doing to keep inmates and correctional officers safe during the pandemic and beyond.

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.

Inside The Blanket Fort
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.