Illinois Pioneers

WILL - Illinois Pioneers - December 13, 2013 ~ Comment (0)

Industrial recycling innovator Lou Mervis

7:30 pm Thursday, Dec. 19, on WILL-TV
Lou Mervis

Lou Mervis, who retired in 2005 as president and CEO of Mervis Industries in Danville, talks about guiding his family's company to become a leader in meeting the manufacturing and recycling needs of various industries. He also reflects on his achievements as a volunteer, from founding the Danville Area Economic Development Corporation to his 17-year service as a member of the Illinois State Board of Education.

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WILL - Illinois Pioneers - December 12, 2013 ~ Comment (0)

Film producer/director Frederick Marx

7:30 pm Thursday, Dec. 12, on WILL-TV
Frederick Marx

Host David Inge interviews the C-U native and U of I graduate about his 35-year career in the film and television industry.

From his 1994 breakout work, "Hoop Dreams," to his most recent film, "Journey from Zanskar," Marx addresses multiculturalism and expresses empathy for the plight of the disadvantaged. "I love underdog stories," he said. He was a Guest-in-Residence at Unit One/Allen Hall on the U of I campus.

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WILL - Illinois Pioneers - November 21, 2013 ~ Comment (0)

Steve Burgess recalls his father, James R. Burgess Jr.

7:30 pm Thursday, Nov. 21, on WILL-TV
James R. Burgess

Steve Burgess reveals his journey of discovery about his father, James R. Burgess, pictured, Champaign County's first African American State's Attorney. Steve learned about his father's role in World War II after his father died. James Burgess was a first lieutenant commanding one of six African American tank companies in the famous 761st Tank Battalion that served under General George Patton, including at the Battle of the Bulge.

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WILL - Illinois Pioneers - November 14, 2013 ~ Comment (0)

Renowned baritone Nathan Gunn

7:30 pm Thursday, Nov. 14, on WILL-TV
Nathan Gunn

Host David Inge interviews renowned baritone and University of Illinois professor Nathan Gunn, who discusses how he decided to be a professional singer, revealing that he first considered a career in the Air Force. He also talks about how he became known for taking off his shirt, and why he is able to sing both opera and musical theater, when few singers can do both.

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WILL - Illinois Pioneers - October 28, 2013 ~ Comment (0)

BabyTALK Founding Director Claudia Quigg

7:30 pm Thursday, Oct. 31, on WILL-TV
Claudia Quigg

Claudia Quigg, who founded BabyTALK in Decatur 27 years ago, talks to host David Inge about the importance of the parent-child bond, and what communities can do to support new parents. Her organization visits 1,600 newborns and their families in Decatur hospitals each year, helping parents make observations about their babies and showing them how competent their babies are in the first few days of birth. Not too long ago, babies were viewed as a blank slate, she said. "Now we know that babies bring so much into the world with them with an inborn temperament, and many skills and abilities they use to actively see out and establish relationships with people around them."

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WILL - Illinois Pioneers - October 18, 2013 ~ Comment (0)

Former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar

7:30 pm Thursday, Oct. 24, on WILL-TV
Jim Edgar

Jim Edgar, who served two terms as Illinois governor, explains how being raised by a widowed mother helped shape his views. “I had a great deal of respect for my mother and what she went through,” said Edgar, now a distinguished fellow in the U of I Institute of Government and Public Affairs. “I had a little more sensitivity to women’s issues than the average Republican.”  Edgar said he started out as an aide to the powerful Illinois Senate President Pro-Tem, but he really wanted to hold elected office. “I didn’t want to be the power behind the throne. I wanted to be on the throne,” he tells host David Inge.

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WILL - Illinois Pioneers - October 14, 2013 ~ Comment (0)

Little Theatre on the Square founder Guy Little

7:30 pm Thursday, Oct. 17, on WILL-TV
Guy Little

Guy Little talks about his role in bringing 175 famous singers, comedians and actors, including Betty Grable, Kitty Carlisle, Tab Hunter and Robert Conrad, to central Illinois for productions at The Little Theatre on the Square in Sullivan. He tells fascinating stories including cooking for Betty Grable and working with the temperamental actress Ann Sothern. He talks about how he decided he wanted to make theater his life when he was very young and saw The Merry Widow at the Lincoln Theater in Decatur. "I sat in the front row and I said, 'That's what I want to do.' "

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WILL - Illinois Pioneers - October 10, 2013 ~ Comment (0)

Television anchor Jennifer Roscoe

7:30 pm Thursday, Oct. 10, on WILL-TV
Jennifer Roscoe

Host David Inge talks to the longtime WCIA news anchor about the reality that her job isn't as glamorous as people think it is. Roscoe has two children, one with special needs, and talks about the difficulties of being a mom who works nights. In 2011, a change in Illinois law made it possible for Roscoe, who is adopted, to get a copy of her birth certificate. After she got a name and phone number for her birth mother, her co-workers nudged her to call. She tells a moving story about the night when, in between newscasts, she talked to her mother, and then had to run do the 10 o'clock news. They met on Mother's Day of 2012.

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WILL - Illinois Pioneers - September 27, 2013 ~ Comment (0)

Tim Nugent, game-changer for students with disabilities

7:30 pm Thursday, Oct. 3, on WILL-TV
Tim Nugent coaching U of I wheelchair basketball team

At the University of Illinois, Tim Nugent founded the first comprehensive program in higher education for people with disabilities, and helped establish the university as a power in collegiate wheelchair athletics. Host David Inge talks to Nugent about what it was like for students with disabilities when he started his program after World War II, the difficulties he faced in convincing university faculty and administrators that disabled students belonged on campus, and why wheelchair basketball was an important part of his program.

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WILL - Illinois Pioneers - September 19, 2013 ~ Comment (0)

Former Champaign Mayor Dannel McCollum

7:30 pm Thursday, Sept. 26, on WILL-TV
Dannel McCollum

The former Champaign mayor talks about how his family’s involvement in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case affected him as a child, reflects on his years teaching school, and relates behind-the-scenes stories about the city’s Boneyard Creek and Virginia Theatre projects.

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