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.

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talk with Dorcy Prosser of the Jackson County League of Women Voters about events and informational guides leading up to the November 2020 Election. 

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with former Illinois Governor George Ryan about his decision to halt executions in Illinois, and push for an end to the death penalty. Ryan has written a book about his change of heart on capital punishment, "Until I Could Be Sure."

When the COVID shutdown hit, lots of people lost jobs and couldn’t pay their rent. States and cities responded by putting a moratorium on evictions, but those are ending. Housing advocates are now bracing for a flood of evictions — and a public health problem.

Teaching is already challenging enough without a pandemic shaking up how the classroom operates. As schools reopen, many districts are focused on keeping their staff and students safe from COVID-19. But the pandemic is also taking a toll on teachers’ mental health. 

Remote Learning At Boys and Girls Club of Southern Illinois
Benjy Jeffords / WSIU

Schools weren't the only organizations trying to navigate a changing landscape this year.  

Support organizations like the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Illinois are making changes this fall to help area students.

On a Friday evening in late June, Liliana Quintero received a call from one of the Spanish interpreters working at a COVID-19 testing site in Goshen, Indiana. The area has one of Indiana’s higher Latinx populations and higher rates of COVID-19 cases, according to state data.

“[He was] saying, ‘Liliana I need to inform you that the nurse who is in charge of this site just told me that each time that she sees Hispanics coming to this site, she's going to call the police,’” recalls Quintero, director of the Northern Indiana Hispanic Health Coalition, an Elkhart-based health education and advocacy nonprofit.

Provided by Ameren Illinois

Ameren Illinois is continuing with efforts, through its Avian Protection program, to save birds, while at the same time, reduce the number of bird-caused power outages.

Southern Illinois University

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with SIUC Chancellor Austin Lane about Fall 2020 enrollment numbers, retention plans, COVID-19, and more. 

Commentary: Dr. Mike Baltz and More on Plastics

Sep 7, 2020
Kirti Nagar, Unsplash.

On his monthly feature, Ornithologist Dr. Mike Baltz gives some startling statistics on how common waste plastic is.

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with SIH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Marci Moore-Connelley and CEO Rex Budde about how they're responding to COVID-19, with regional cases rising.

Treating COVID-19 With Plasma Therapy

Sep 2, 2020

The FDA has recently issued an emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma as a treatment for COVID-19. Southern Illinois Healthcare has been participating in an extended access program, treating southern Illinoians with plasma.

Carbondale / Carbondale

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry and City Manager Gary Williams about how COVID-19 is affecting the city's financial status.

Carbondale Schools Cope with COVID Changes

Aug 31, 2020

In July, the Carbondale Elementary School District decided to start the fall semester in full remote learning.

As WSIU's Benjy Jeffords reports, it meant the school district needed to buy every student a Chromebook.

Illinois Treasurer

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs about a milestone for the I-Cash Program, the Charitable Trust Program, and more.

Whether it’s the global pandemic or social unrest, nearly everyone has experienced some trauma in 2020.

It’s hard to grasp the long-term mental health implications of COVID-19. But many Americans have already seen their mental health suffer during the pandemic.

Southern Illinois University

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with SIU President Dan Mahony. In this edition of InFocus, they discuss how COVID-19 has changed SIU's Fall 2020 semester, along with additional conversations addressing racism in higher education.

Chris Bohr’s farm in Martinsburg, Missouri, has hundreds of acres of soybeans and corn. It also has a 5,000 head hog barn that requires a lot of electricity to power its ventilation system, cooling fans and lights.

About fifty yards away from the barn are three rows of solar panels. Bohr is among a growing number of farmers that are generating solar power to meet their needs. 

Bohr received a Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP, grant from the United States Department of Agriculture to help pay for his solar panels. And the number of farmers applying for the grants is going up.

As colleges across the country welcome students back to campus, incoming freshmen are starting college in the middle of a pandemic. And, many are struggling with a tough decision to start or defer college this fall.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 28-year-old Mayra Ramirez was working as a paralegal for an immigration law firm in Chicago. She enjoyed walking her dogs and running 5K races. 

Ramirez has a condition requiring medication that could’ve suppressed her immune system but was otherwise healthy. When the Illinois governor issued a shelter-in-place order in March, she began working from home, hardly leaving the house. So she has no idea how she contracted COVID-19.

Courtesy of the Glaciers End Facebook page.

On this edition of InFocus, we hear  about a new way to help southern Illinoisans buy locally grown food.

Southern Illinois University

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with SIUC Chancellor Austin Lane about preparations for the new school year, amid a global pandemic.

Ornithologist Dr. Mike Baltz on Plastic

Aug 10, 2020
Tanvi Sharma courtesy of UnSplash.

On this edition of WSIU InFocus, we hear the comments of Ornithologist Dr. Mike Baltz.

Garwin Family Foundation

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with Dr. Marsha Ryan of the Garwin Family Foundation, along with three local students who've benefitted from the Foundation's work.

SI Wellness

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with SI Wellness Executive Director Michelle Snyder about their upcoming "Dementia 360" conference, featuring Teepa Snow.

Carbondale / Carbondale

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry and City Manager Gary Williams, as the city continues to deal with COVID-19 and prepares for thousands more students to return for classes at SIUC this month.

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with Dorcy Prosser of the Jackson County League of Women Voters about changes to the way Illinoisans vote for the 2020 General Election in November.


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