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 Illinois Humanities series “The Country and the City: Common Ground in the Prairie State” addresses issues affecting both rural and urban Illinoisans. As part of the series, we get two perspectives from Illinois communities nearly 400 miles apart.

Carla Redd is an assistant deputy chief with the Rockford Police Department. Rockford is a historically industrial, ethnically diverse city near Illinois' northern boundary.

Women's Center
The Women's Center - Facebook / The Women's Center

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with Rachel Brenningmeyer of The Women's Center and Actor/Director Emily Haymans Cook about the upcoming performances of The Vagina Monologues.


WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with SIUC Darwin Week Co-Coordinator Marisa Szubryt about events planned for 2020:

Carbondale / Carbondale

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry and City Manager Gary Williams.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker used his State of the State address Wednesday to call for a culture change in Illinois government — particularly when it comes to corruption.

Brett Adams, who farms near the town of Peru in southeast Nebraska, takes the good news where he can get it these days. After nearly a year, the floodwater is mostly gone from his riverside farmland.

Adams is on the local levee board, which manages the town’s nearly 8 miles of Missouri riverbed. And the (unpaid) work keeps him very busy: he was on a call when I first climbed into his pickup, apologetically holding a finger up every so often.

After hanging up, he said he can’t afford to miss a call. Somebody might be on the other end bearing good news.

WSIU Kevin Boucher

Through next month, the SIU Museum is hosting a special exhibit featuring photographs taken in the 1930s and the 1940s during the popular Ozark Tours which took place within the Shawnee National Forest.

There's no how-to guide for re-adjusting to civilian life after returning home from war. 

A group of teachers hold their phone in front of their faces. Using the camera they’re looking at the classroom they’re standing in...when suddenly a zombie appears.

Paul Simon Public Policy Institute

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with Paul Simon Public Policy Institute Director John Shaw about the Institute's focus on Statesmanship.

Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs has been selected to  Chair  the College Savings Plans Network.

Many farmers are wrapping up a frustrating first year of growing hemp, which was legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill.

“It’s kind of a good way to start, in that that’s about as bad as it can get,” said Jeff Cox, Bureau Chief of Medicinal Plants at the Illinois Department of Agriculture. “There’s a lack of expertise, just a general lack of knowledge as to how to grow hemp the best way."

Ameila Blakely

American politics are divided and contentious. But, in Carbondale, Illinois there's an eclectic group of friends trying to minimze the divide one Thursday evening at a time.

The federal government recently raised the smoking age to 21 to help curb teen vaping.  Some are applauding the decision as a win for public health. Others worry it was a knee-jerk reaction.

Just a few weeks ago, some Midwest state legislatures were aiming to raise the legal age for smoking. But Congress moved first, setting a new national age limit of 21. Now, some anti-smoking advocates say that’s not enough. 

Mike Baltz: Looking Back and Forward at Earth Day

Jan 13, 2020
WSIU Kevin Boucher

Ornithologist Dr. Mike Baltz begins 2020 with the first in another series of original nature commentaries.

Politics, television, and social media were once again rich sources for abuse of the English language during the past year. And they're the main contributors to the latest list of words and phrases, "Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse, and General Uselessness.

Ed Benyas
SI Music Festival

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with Southern Illinois Symphony Music Director and Southern Illinois Music Festival Artistic Director Ed Benyas about Lionel Semiatin's American Symphony being honored at the national level.

You can watch the performances of American Symphony below:

Why This Free Health Clinic Is Pushing To Expand Medicaid

Jan 8, 2020

On a chilly afternoon, Terry Cox has come to Mountain View, Mo., to see a dentist. He’s waiting on a bench outside a converted rectory.

“Came to get a tooth check and see what they got to do to it," Cox says. "Maybe get ‘em all out.”

The 56-year-old works in northern Arkansas, and drove an hour and a half to the Good Samaritan Care Clinic.

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

In this InFocus episode:

  • Discussion of economic impact of Macy's closure
  • Potential opportunities in University Mall and elsewhere
  • Next steps for Carbonale, as Illinois' legal marijuana law takes effect

Across the country, nearly 95,000 people are waiting for a kidney transplant. And the list has been growing for years. That's pushed some people to try unusual ways to find donors.

SIU Team Documents New Life Form

Jan 2, 2020

A new form of bacterial life has been discovered by a team of SIU Carbondale researchers, led by Microbiology Assistant Professor, Dr. Scott Hamilton-Brehm.

photo of book cover of Simple Abundance

As we start a new year and a new decade, author and columnist Sarah Ban Breathnach is out with a revised 25th anniversary edition of her iconic book Simple Abundance and its companion, The Journal of Gratitude.  

For this edition of In The Author's Voice, WSIU's Jeff Williams recently talked with Ban Breathnach about the book and introducing it to a new generation.

SIU School of Medicine

Alzheimer's affects more than five million Americans, but the disease is still a mystery to scientists and doctors. Some patients and caregivers are hoping to help change that by joining clinical trials.

Bob Scott is a patient at the Alzheimer’s Center at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. His wife, Janet, is his caregiver, and is helping Bob as he takes part in a clinical trial for a new drug.

Across the United States, Alzheimer's is a growing problem. The number of people with the disease is expected to increase nearly 15 percent over the next eight years. There’s no cure, but some caregivers are using music to help. 

A Conversation On Doctors in Rural Illinois In the 1940s

Dec 27, 2019

Harold Bardo grew up in Sparta, Illinois. He later moved to Carbondale working at SIU in several different roles. In March, StoryCorps came to Carbondale to speak with Southern Illinoisans about their lives.

Harold and his wife Lana, talked about growing up in rural Illinois as African-Americans in a time when segregation still ruled much of America.

Read the transcript:


Rachel Keener first began using opioids as a teenager. As an adult she was being treated with subutex when she became pregnant.

In March of 2019 StoryCorps visited Carbondale to record interviews with Southern Illinois. Rachel sat down with her doctor, Jeff Ripperda with Shawnee Health Service to talk about her fears and experience giving birth while undergoing medication assisted treatment for opioid use. 

Read the full transcript:

Local Teacher Makes Arts Education His Mission

Dec 24, 2019

Art programs are often the first thing to go when budget cuts hit.  Illinois in particular  falls short when it comes to art programs -  only 63% of schools have it, compared to the 90%. nationwide. 

During 2019, the curveballs thrown at farmers began with the partial government shutdown in January, when some U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies were closed. Spring brought a storm system—called a bomb cyclone—that dumped rain on top of frozen fields unable to make use of it, kicking off weeks of flooding exacerbated by additional precipitation. Planting ran later than usual and some farmers never got a cash crop into certain saturated fields.

Middle schoolers from Loves Park were chosen to create the ornament representing Illinois for the National Christmas Tree Celebration in Washington D.C.

The two dozen Harlem Middle School art students worked on 24 ornaments for more than a month in secret. The National Parks Service didn’t let the kids say anything about their project until the official announcement.