Rachel Otwell

Journalist / Illinois Edition Producer / Host of: The Scene, Heartland & The P-Units

Rachel's reports focus on the arts, community, and diverse culture. She produces NPR Illinois' original program, Illinois Edition. She also hosts The Scene, which airs on Thursdays and features cultural happenings in the central Illinois region.

She's a graduate of the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois Springfield. While working toward that degree she spent a session covering the state legislature for NPR Illinois and Illinois Public Radio with a focus on fracking. Rachel also holds degrees from UIS in Liberal & Integrative Studies, Women & Gender Studies, and African-American Studies. She's tutored Rwandan refugees in Ohio, volunteered at a Kenyan orphanage,  served as an activities assistant at a nursing home, and volunteered at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand. 

Rachel started a career in public media in 2011 when she interned for the National Public Radio program Tell Me More with Michel Martin in Washington, DC. Her reports have also appeared on NPR's Weekend Edition, NPR's All Things Considered, NPR's Morning Edition, WorkingNow.org, and 51%.

christieblizard.com

Christie Blizard is an artist and professor from San Antonio, Texas. She's in Springfield setting up an installation in the alternative art space on the Springfield Art Association's campus, known as the Demo Project. Blizard spent 2015 making several appearances in the crowds holding signs for the Today Show & Good Morning America. (You can find some of those here.) A reception for her show called 'The Sex of Life' is planned for Friday night.

mergerecords.com/ivy-tripp

Katie Crutchfield, a.k.a Waxahatchee, has - much to her own surprise, become an indie-rock darling with national recognition. Her newest album, Ivy Tripp, has been critically acclaimed (ie: here &  here), as have her previous two records. The name of the project comes from a creek in Alabama – which is Crutchfield’s home state. 

Local artist Wendy Allen along with Carol Bridges, an artist from Indiana, have a show and workshops coming up in Springfield, including a talk about "The Intersection of Art and Spirituality" at The Pharmacy in Springfield on Wednesday. Both work with textiles and have colorful artwork that celebrates various spiritual aspects and lives of women.

The Scene: Vachel Lindsay & Contemporary Poetry

Mar 30, 2016
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This week we talk about a "SlutWalk" planned for this weekend, and Nikki Overcash joins us to discuss one of Springfield's literary heroes and ways to celebrate National Poetry Month in town (click here for a list of those events.) Tune in!

Amanda Vinicky

It had been a long time coming, but Illinois' pilot program for medical marijuana has finally kicked off last November. It's been slow growing for the industry so far, and there are many restrictions.  The business HCI Alternatives has two medical marijuana dispensaries in the state now. 

The Black Sheep Cafe

It's a bit of a slow week as families gear up for spring break, but we still have plenty to talk about. We discuss an art show, a unique chance for women to make a vision board, a feminist spoken word duo and two books dealing with very different artists. Tune in!

Spirituality is a topic not often discussed on the radio, or in the mainstream media as a whole. Yet it's something that's a major part of many people's lives. Even those who are agnostic or atheist may be interested in hearing about various religions - the ways they differ, and also what they have in common. Some may choose to buck religion, but still want to hold onto some aspects of spirituality.

Rachel Otwell

In some schools around the state - fewer art classes are being taught. Meanwhile, art advocates say they help students creatively problem solve and art is crucial for a well-rounded curriculum.

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It's that time of the week to get our your planners and decide what do this weekend. Indie film preview sound nice? Perhaps some symphony? Listen in, and stick around for Culture Corner and our Song of the Week - we've got two vastly different tunes for you, plus we talk about the only instrument played without being touched...

courtesy of Corey Woodruff

It’s called Facebook - but how often do you actually come face-to-face with most of your friends on the social media site? Corey Woodruff is a photographer based in St. Louis - he decided to explore our connections with others with his project titled: All of the Faces

Rachel Otwell

This week Scott and Rachel take a visit to the Springfield Art Association campus and get to know two artists who have a reception planned for Friday at DEMO. We also talk with area native, Andrew Woolbright, who now lives in New York. His work is on display at the UIS Visual Arts gallery. Tune in:

A new artist collective has moved into Springfield. Located in South Town, it recently planted roots in a local bar, Bourbon Street. The group, called HISO, hopes to make it more of a venue and studio space for musicians. 

Kari Bedford

Today we have an interview with local indie-folk singer/song-writer Ben Bedford - he stopped by the studio to chat and share music from his up-coming album, called The Pilot and the Flying Machine. (Ben has a Kickstarter to help fund the album. It only has a few days left, and it's a way you can ensure you get a copy while also ensuring the album gets made.)

Rachel Otwell

As the March 15th primary draws closer -- presidential candidates and their campaigns are making visits to the state. But one candidate stopped by last week who you may not know as much about. Her name is Jill Stein, and she's once again running for president, representing the Green Party

Felicia Olin

This week we couldn't even get to all the events we're interested in this weekend (and beyond) - but we did our best. We also got to know more about the artist Felicia Olin, she joined us to chat about the Rebirth art show at The Pharmacy over the weekend. Chances are you've seen her work at a local establishment or seen her profiled in local media (like here.) Time to tune in!

Sanders campaign

Senator Bernie Sanders will be coming to Edwardsville Friday in hopes of riling up supporters in the state. Illinois' primary is on the 15th. Yesterday, we got a call from the Sanders campaign asking if we would talk with his wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders. Fifteen minutes later, she called up the station.

Tony Colantino

Ragna Rye is Alex Owens on guitar and vocals, Michael LaFrance on drums and Phil Sgambelluri on bass. 

This week Rachel and Scott talk about a pro-wrestling event at a high school and an interesting documentary about an elusive Native American artist that is screening in town. Plus, local playwrights will see their productions on stage - you can be in the audience as well.

40winksfoundation.org

A store for beds and a hotline for parents are teaming up to provide needy families new mattresses, box-springs and bed-frames. The 40 Winks Foundation has provided several thousand beds to children all over the country. Slumberland, located at 2450 Chuckwagon Drive in Springfield, is providing beds for families in the Springfield area for the third time, the deadline to apply is Monday, Feb. 29th.

Matthew Minicucci is a Midwest transplant, hailing from the east coast. He's been in Illinois for about a decade now and says planting roots here is something that affects his writings. He also draws inspiration from classic literature and his parents' divorce, among many other things. He lives in Champaign where he teaches writing at the U of I.

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As you may know - over a century ago Springfield underwent what is called the 1908 Race Riot. It was a day of lynching and upset - many black people were attacked after two back-to-back reports of assaults on white women by black men induced an angry mob. 

courtesy of the Village Voices of Chatham

A group of concerned citizens in Chatham say they fear they could be seeing the same problems as Flint, Michigan. They say ever since their water source has switched from Springfield’s City Water Light and Power in 2012 to the South Sangamon Water Commission issues have included discolored, foul-smelling water that is corrosive and leaves sediment. Some people say it even causes hair-loss and rashes.

pbs.org

It's that time of the week. Rachel and Scott have plenty to tell you about events in the area, including a micro-brewery's beer fest, adult coloring and a comic book convention. Plus they dish on cultural picks including musical artists Kendrick Lamar & Freakwater - and a new doc about the Black Panther Party. Tune in!

Events discussed this week include:

If you've ever seen a documentary by Ken Burns, you are probably familiar with the important role music plays in his films. It informs the viewer what mood Burns is hoping to illicit - it's a part of the story interwoven from beginning to end. Jacqueline Schwab is the pianist behind much of that music, she met Burns in her twenties and her music has appeared in a dozen of his films including Baseball, Mark Twain and Lewis and Clark.

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

On Friday, Bernice King spoke to a group in Springfield representing the Abraham Lincoln Association - which regularly honors the president's birthday with scholarly symposiums. King was there to accept the "Spirit of Lincoln" award on behalf of her parents - Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King Jr. 

The Scene Wants You To Be Ours <3

Feb 10, 2016
NPR.org

It's the time of season - for punk shows, murder mystery dinners, and general romance. Scott and Rachel are here to tell you what you can do this weekend in to soak up all the culture, art and music our area has to offer:

Events discussed this week include:

Rachel Otwell/WUIS

St. Patrick's Day may still be a way's off - but it's not too early to start planning your celebrations of Irish culture. This weekend a production opens at the Hoogland Center for the Arts called Blather, Blarney, and Balderdash

Tony Colantino

This week we are joined by a young Springfield woman and artist who has her hand in dozens of projects concerning everything from community gardening through feminist-rock.

Corey Woodruff

Stephen Houldsworth is a self-described "grumpy old gay man" (though his life's work aimed at bettering society suggests that characterization should be taken with a grain or two of salt.) His one-man performance involves a collection of stories about family, AIDS, race and mosh-pits. 

Jukebox Cassanova is Bernie Flesch on lead vocals and guitar, Gary Hawthorne on drums, Matt Combs on upright bass, and Mick Conboy on lead guitar. They joined us for the 2015 'Thank You Fest' and played a set for an audience in the Suggs Studio here at the NPR Illinois station. They were joined by band Ragna Rye who we'll hear from at a later date.

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