Illinois Edition

On Intermission, returning Fall 2017

Illinois Edition aired weekdays, 2012-2017. NPR Illinois discontinued the program to focus on additional feature and statehouse reporting, Illinois Issues, and State Week.

The Mississippi River town of Quincy, Illinois, was a major stop on the Underground Railroad as slaves attempted to make their way from Missouri to a free state.

Quincy’s role in the Underground Railroad – a network of often secretive locations used to help enslaved people escape to free states and Canada – is highlighted in the events that took place at the home of Dr. Richard Eells and his wife, Jane, during the mid-19th century.

UIS Chancellor Susan Koch
University of Illinois Springfield

It's cold and rainy today, but that hasn't deterred the University of Illinois Springfield faculty from the picket line. Tenured and tenure-track professors seeking a contract are in the third day of a strike. But there may be signs of progress.

The Scene Talks 'Music At The Museum'

May 4, 2017

The Illinois State Museum in Springfield is back up and running after its hiatus due to the state's budget woes. And there' s a new concert series to boot. Illinois musician and all around folk music connoisseur, Chris Vallillo, is hosting and playing at the events. They are the second Thursday of each month. For more information on the Music at the Museum concert series, click here. For info on the first show next week, click here.

We’re in an era when Chicago politicians dominate state government.  But it wasn't that long ago that some of the more powerful state politicians came from southern Illinois. 

Rachel Otwell / NPR Illinois

Students are being told to continue reporting to class at the University of Illinois Springfield, despite the fact that the faculty is on strike. More than 160 tenured and tenure-track professors represented by University Professionals of Illinois have been negotiating almost two years in an effort to get personnel policies included in a contract.


Rachel Otwell / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Tenured and tenure-track professors at the University of Illinois Springfield are on strike starting today.  Nearly 170 professors belong to the union that will take to the picket line this morning. 

Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

I recently spent an evening at Springfield’s Dubois Elementary, with a group of tutors focused on helping the school’s youngest students — kindergarten through second grade.

But in this particular tutoring arrangement, everyone is learning. The older kids are in a program called Our American Voice, designed to bring civics lessons back to the younger grades. Students get an instructional course in citizenship, and then create their own community service project.

Ada Jay

Much like the music she helps create, Jessica Knight is an artist who defies simple labeling. As vocalist, lyricist and bassist for the band Looming, she draws inspiration from a variety of source material. She came of age musically in the Southtown Springfield scene, centered around Black Sheep venue and a punk DIY ethos. 

Library of Congress

In April, 1865, there was a major tragedy in American history, but it’s not the one you think. Days after Abraham Lincoln was killed by John Wilkes Booth, there was a disaster on the Mississippi River that killed more people than the Titanic sinking. However, news of it was dwarfed by Lincoln’s death. Yet he was tied to this event, too.
Tara McClellan McAndrew describes the disaster in this history story, courtesy of the Sangamon County Historical Society. Much of the information comes from Jerry Potter’s book, “The Sultana Tragedy.”

Brian Mackey

Progressive women's rights activists rallied in Springfield Tuesday. The organizers say over 100 groups were represented from across the state. Jennifer Camille Lee is co-president of Action Illinois and co-leader of a local group called Women Rising.  She co-chaired the "Illinois Women March on Springfield" event.

Heartland Ep. 11: Processing Death

Apr 26, 2017
Rachel Otwell

On this episode of Heartland, we take on the topics of death and coping with the grief it often brings. 

It's a sentiment shared by Democratic politicians and liberal pundits: disgust over how Republicans drew up favorable (for them) legislative districts after the 2010 Census.


If you feel no one is listening to your concerns about the state budget impasse, you’ll have a chance to be heard Thursday night.

Professor Amy McEuen speaks at the March for Science in Springfield IL
Pamela Salela

Much like the Women's March on Washington, the March for Science became a national cause with cities across the country participating. Springfield was among them, with a crowd estimated to be over 700 people this past Saturday.

The Flowing Font Fight

Apr 24, 2017
Dusty Rhodes

Should the State of Illinois require public schools to teach students how to write in cursive? That question is at the center of a legislative measure generating more controversy than you might expect for a bill that doesn’t even involve money.

One of the few issues uniting Illinois lawmakers from both parties is the desire to revamp the way our state funds schools. That's because the current system has made Illinois schools the most inequitable in the country. A group of 20 lawmakers recently spent six months drafting a framework for a different plan. It would ensure that no school loses money, and all additional funds would be distributed through a new evidence-based model. A trio of commission members — two Democrats and a Republican — united behind one version of this plan. But last week, Republican Sen. Jason Barickman of Bloomington filed a significantly different version. He spoke with our education reporter, Dusty Rhodes, who began by asking him about how he would calculate the hold-harmless provision.


U.S. map of warmer weather pattern
NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

The pattern of warmer weather is expected to continue through the summer.  That’s according to the latest National Weather Service long range forecasts.

Field of pinwheels
Prevent Child Abuse Illinois

The Illinois Walk for Children is planned for May 20 in Springfield.  The event raises funds for training child abuse prevention specialists and bring more awareness to a problem that often goes unreported.

Larissa Kramer

Ususally, Roger Ebert's Film Festival aka Ebertfest honors a person. This year however, it chose to recognize Champaign county's Alliance for Inclusion and Respect. The organization helps fund mental health and disability organizations.

Rachel Otwell

This week we have another conversation from Champaign, this time with a self-proclaimed townie who keeps himself more than busy when it comes to creative culture in the Champaign-Urbana area. As Seth Fein tells us in this interview, after a stint running The Accord venue, previously The Highdive, he'll be focusing on other projects, like the online magazine he co-founded, hyper-local "Smile Politely."

Warehouse Workers for Justice

Legislation aims to improve working conditions for temporary workers as the need for them increases.

History: News Of Titanic Sinking Shook Springfield

Apr 19, 2017
     RMS Titanic 3.jpg More details RMS Titanic departing Southampton
Public Domain

It was just about 105 years ago when the luxury liner Titanic sank on April 15, 1912. The disaster made news around the world. 

On Illinois Edition, we hear an excerpt from this presentation which took place earlier this month.

Rachel Otwell / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

This week Scott and Rachel travel to Champaign where they meet Austin McCann, he's the general manager/programmer (or anti-programmer as he calls it) of the Art Theater Co-op which specializes in "community theater" in a 104-year-old building. Tune in to hear what they're all about!

Rachel Otwell / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Ever since the crisis in Flint, Michigan was publicized, concern over the presence of lead in water has reached a fever pitch. Law makers across the country have reacted with legislation addressing the issue in their home states. Illinois is one of them - a new law requires some public schools to test for it.


John Wilkes Booth is a villain in history.  Yet, he had a prominent spot in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield.

Since the facility opened in 2005, a sinister statue of Booth shadowed the Lincoln family as visitors entered the main plaza.  But no more.  

Equality Illinois

As rapid-fire change comes at the federal level, advocates want  to keep Illinois' status as one of the leading states in offering protections.

Alex McCray didn’t want to believe Donald Trump had won the election. In the words of the transgender nursing student from downstate Sherman: “I was hoping it was all just one terrible nightmare. It felt like my rights were being ripped out right from underneath me.”

Over the weekend a facility providing services to the needy, including a food pantry and prescription medication service, was severely vandalized. 

Reps. Darlene Senger and Elaine Nekritz
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

The Illinois criminal justice system has become increasingly reliant on fees. People convicted of crimes have become money makers for state and local government — paying for everything from prosecutors' offices to new police cars.

White board with, "School Funding" written on it
Carter Staley / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

With multiple legislative proposals, a task force and a lawsuit all aimed at overhauling the way Illinois funds its schools, it’s hard to predict what might happen. But in this chat that aired on Tuesday, our Capitol Bureau reporter Brian Mackey makes me try.