Have lunch with Garrison Keillor at Frasca Field!

Garrison Keillor

Garrison Keillor

11:30 am Wednesday, May 7
Frasca Field, 1402 Airport Rd. Urbana

Come have a box lunch and listen to Garrison Keillor, who will read from his new book and answer your questions during his stop at Frasca Field. Make a $50 gift to WILL to get a ticket to the event, plus lunch!

He'll be signing his book, The Keillor Reader, and you'll be able to purchase a copy at the event, which takes place inside a hangar full of vintage airplanes and cars.The Keillor Reader brings together the full range of his work: monologues from A Prairie Home Companion, stories from The New Yorker and The Atlantic, excerpts from novels, and newspaper columns. With an extensive introduction and headnotes, photographs, and memorabilia, the book also presents pieces never before published, including the essays “Cheerfulness” and “What We Have Learned So Far.”

Keillor—a storyteller, sometime comedian, essayist, newspaper columnist, screenwriter, poet— has hosted A Prairie Home Companion in St. Paul, Minn., since 1974. Today, some 4 million listeners on more than 600 public radio stations coast to coast and beyond tune in to the show each week. Keillor has been honored with Grammy, ACE, and George Foster Peabody awards, the National Humanities Medal, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

In addition to The Keillor Reader, his many books include Lake Wobegon Days, The Book of Guys, Pilgrims: A Wobegon Romance, and Guy Noir and the Straight Skinny. He is the host of the daily program The Writer's Almanac and the editor of several anthologies of poetry.

Tickets to the event will be mailed when payment is received.

Reading ‘The Address’

Illinois Public Media staff joined with our Community Advisory Committee members and University of Illinois College of Media staff to remember the Gettysburg Address by reading the speech ahead of the PBS presentation of Ken Burns’ The Address at 8 pm Tuesday, April 15, on WILL-TV.

The Gettysburg Address: A Reading from WILL

In The Address, Burns tells the story of the Greenwood School in Putney, Vermont, where each year the students are encouraged to memorize, practice and recite the Gettysburg Address in front of their classmates and teachers.

Students at Greenwood  prepare for delivering The Gettysburg Address
In its exploration of Greenwood—whose students, boys ages 11-17, all face a range of complex learning differences—the film also unlocks the history, context and importance of President Lincoln’s most powerful address.

Ken Burns and PBS are challenging people across the country, especially students, to create a video of themselves reading or reciting the Gettysburg Address. Join the project by sharing your Gettysburg Address at learntheaddress.org.

Come to a live ‘Says You’ show in Champaign-Urbana

Says You panelists

Says You panelists

Join host Richard Sher and his panelists for a live performance of the “game of words” public radio show Says You in Champaign-Urbana at 7:30 pm Friday, May 2. The live show, which will be taped for later broadcast, is in the University of Illinois Gregory Hall Auditorium, 810 S. Wright St., Urbana.

Regular tickets are sold out but you can make a gift to WILL to get a pair of premium seats for the 7:30 pm taping and an invitation to a special reception event with Sher and the panelists at 6 pm the night of the show.

Airing at 10 am Sundays on WILL-AM, Says You is played by two teams in front of live, enthusiastic audiences.  For almost two decades, Says You has offered listeners some of the best quips, quotes and questions that public radio has to offer.

Dozens of game categories include Cryptic Puns, Definitions and Derivations, What’s the Difference and Odd Man Out. And at the core of the game are the bluffing rounds, in which three definitions are given for a mystery word, only one of which is the actual meaning.

U of I Prof Will Bring Severe Weather Expertise to Event

Meteorologist Jeffrey Frame

Meteorologist Jeffrey Frame

7 pm Wednesday, March 5
Beckman Institute Auditorium
405 N. Mathews Ave., Urbana
Free parking: U of I parking garage, University and Mathews

University of Illinois meteorologist Jeffrey Frame, who takes students out on the Great Plains each spring to observe tornadoes and thunderstorms, will bring his knowledge, stunning photos, videos and enthusiasm for weather to a free event sponsored by Illinois Public Media.

The event, Becoming Weather Aware: Severe Storm Preparedness with Meteorologist Dr. Jeffrey Frame, will cover thunderstorm basics, lightning, flash floods, high winds, hail, tornadoes and severe weather safety. Frame will also answer questions from the audience.

The U of I clinical assistant professor takes two groups of U of I atmospheric sciences students out in the field each spring to observe severe weather. They’re careful to stay in a safe spot to watch. He and a group of students were nearby last spring when three storm chasers died during a tornado in Oklahoma.  “We saw the tornado from the back where we were safe,” he said. “We were behind it and not in the way of it.”

Frame chased tornadoes to gather valuable scientific data with the Doppler on Wheels radars, most recently as a part of VORTEX2 in 2009 and 2010. “I was the head navigator,” he said. “I sat in the front seat of a large mobile Doppler radar truck, forecasting storms and making sure we were safe,” he said.

The project, with 30 to 50 vehicles traveling together, gathered data around tornadoes as well as around thunderstorms that did not produce tornadoes. “We were trying to understand why some produce tornadoes and some don’t,” he said.

At the U of I, he teaches a large introduction to meteorology class with 530 students each semester, among other classes. But his year builds to taking students to the Great Plains to observe storms. “It’s something I enjoy―getting out and looking at thunderstorms, taking photos and sharing my passion for the weather with students.”

Every day, the group awakens and forecasts the weather, looking for spots within driving distance where storms might develop. “Students tell me they learn more in those two weeks than they’ve learned in any other two-week period in their lives,” he said.

Illinois Public Media is partnering with the Beckman Institute; the U of I School of Earth, Society and the Environment; and the U of I Department of Atmospheric Sciences for the event.

The Right Tools for the Job

Thanks to the help of Friends of WILL over the past 40 years, Illinois Public Media has consistently been a leader in public radio. As we look to the future of radio, it is essential that we are able to keep improving the services we provide to our audience. For our February fundraising campaign, we seek to raise $50,000 to ensure that our staff has the right tools for the job.

Your contribution makes a big impact.

Getting the right tools for the job means identifying some essential needs for our station and having funds available to make smart purchases to meet those needs. It means having the appropriate technology in place and maintaining the established quality our listeners have come to expect.

Watch a video of news and public affairs director Scott Cameron talking about the resources his staff needs to tell community stories:

Your support will help us provide these tools for our radio staff:

Digital Reporter’s Tool Kit:

  • DSLR camera (still photos + video):  $700
  • Laptop computer: $1550
  • Digital audio recorder: $667
  • Carrying case/backpack:  $60
  • Batteries:  $100
  • Storage cards:  $100
  • Docking station:  $150

Multimedia Tools:

  • Laptops for WILL reporters:  $4650
  • Upgrade for our Omneon Digital Storage Device:  $4700
  • Digital archival storage system:  $12,000
  • New laptop-based multimedia editing system:  $15,000


  • Annual fee to NPR Digital:  $30,000 (provides access to Composer Pro II, the software used by the FM staff to record their playlists and provide access to FM’s playlist via our website)
  • FM/TV transmitter site, replace roof:  $40,000
  • Streaming our broadcasts for AM and FM: $4000
  • Developing and maintaining our phone app: $4700

Donate now to help ensure we have the right tools for the job.

Help IPM’s news, agricultural, classical/cultural staffs and our media interns get the right tools to create and edit content that will be shared on WILL Radio, Online, and beyond.

Watch a video of reporter Sean Powers talking about how member support is important to the work of the news department:

Decision 2014

Republican Gubernatorial Debate

Here's the video archive of the debate that aired Thursday, January 23rd, on WILL-TV, WTVP-TV, WILL-AM 580, WILL-FM 90.9, and public TV and radio stations throughout Illinois


Public TV and radio stations throughout the state broadcast a live debate with four Republican candidates for Illinois governor—State Sen. Bill Brady, State Sen. Kirk Dillard, businessman Bruce Rauner and State Treasurer Dan Rutherford—on Thursday, January 23rd, 2014. The debate was hosted by four Illinois public broadcasters and the League of Women Voters of Illinois.

The 90-minute debate aired along with post-debate analysis from 7-9 p.m. The debate took place in Peoria at WTVP (Peoria/Bloomington), which sponsored and broadcast the debate along with WILL-TV and WILL-AM-FM (Urbana), WSIU-FM-TV (Carbondale) and WUIS-FM (Springfield).

H. Wayne Wilson, host/producer of WTVP’s At Issue, moderated with questioning by a panel of four journalists: Jim Meadows, senior reporter and host of Focus from Illinois Public Media; Jak Tichenor, host of Illinois Lawmakers, from WSIU; Amanda Vinicky, statehouse bureau chief from WUIS; and Chacour Koop, a student from the public affairs reporting program at University of Illinois, Springfield. Koop is an intern for the Associated Press.

Downton Abbey Season 4

Mary and baby

Masterpiece's After the Episode

Get videos, photos, character profiles and more. Episode 1. Episode 2. Episode 3. Episode 4. Episode 5. Episode 6. Episode 7.

Commentary from writer Julian Fellowes and actress Joanne Froggatt about episode 2

Find out why Fellowes wrote the shocking story line and how Froggatt felt about it.

Character Hub

How much do you know about your favorite characters? Explore the characters and actors.

Dine like the Crawleys

Chris Kimball, host of America’s Test Kitchen and fan of Downton Abbey, created a menu inspired by the 1920s. Download the recipes and share!

Season 3 trivia

How much do you know about Downton Abbey Season 3? Test your knowledge.

Seasons 1 and 2 trivia

Consider yourself an expert? See how much you know.

Twitter: #DowntonPBS S4



Season 4's new characters:

Characters reflect on their defining moments:


Behind the scenes look at costumes and sets:

The cast discusses dining downstairs:

Meet the Downton Abbey historical adviser:

Special offers

Enter the 2014 Masterpiece Sweepstakes

You could win a 5-day, 4-night trip that include a reception at Highclere Castle, hosted by Lord and Lady Carnarvon and much more.

Words in the Wind

Two concert-style performances of children's books by some of C-U's best actors and musicians. 7 pm Thursday, Nov. 14, and 7 pm Tuesday, Nov. 19

Lisa Dixon and Kent Conrad performing at last year's Words in the Wind

Lisa Dixon and Kent Conrad performing at last year's Words in the Wind

Some of Champaign-Urbana’s best actors will offer two presentations this year of Words in the Wind, their concert-style readings of children’s books. The first will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14, at Faith United Methodist Church, 1719 S. Prospect Ave., Champaign. Then the actors will present a more casual, encore performance at the Station Theatre, 223 N. Broadway Ave., Urbana, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19.

Both shows, organized by University of Illinois associate professor of theater Tom Mitchell, will raise funds for Illinois Public Media’s Book Mentor Project. A suggested donation of $10 per person or $20 per family will be requested at the door.

“The performances are created for adults, but children might enjoy them as well,” Mitchell said. “It’s a chance for grown-ups to take secret pleasure in enjoying the concise stories and playful language in books that we only get to read when we are kids or parents with kids.” As in past years, he said, the performances will feature surprisingly funny and sometimes profound children’s books performed by excellent actors and musicians.

The second performance this year will give the actors a chance to share the excitement about the Book Mentor Project with a wider audience, he said. “Mostly, we have found that it is fun to perform these books, and we like to work together, so this gives us a second chance to do it,” he said. Performers include Kent Conrad, Gary Ambler, Barbara Evans, Cara Maurizi, Christine Sevec-Johnson, Mindy Manolakes, Cameron Cornell, Angela Marcum, David Butler and Kay Holley. Three volunteers in the Book Mentor Project, Barbara Ridenour, Jessica Holmes and Joe Murphy, will present “Caps for Sale” by Esphyr Slobodkina.

Other performances will include the books "How to Make a Night" by Linda Ashman; “The Man Who Lived in a Hollow Tree" by Anne Shelby and Cor Hazelaar; and "Cool Daddy Rat" by Kristyn Crow.

Illinois Public Media’s Book Mentor Project recruits and trains volunteers from local businesses, community service organizations and student groups. Book mentors visit Head Start and early childhood classrooms where they read a book and do a related activity with the children. Then each child gets to take home a copy of the book, with about 5,000 books provided to 720 families yearly. The project also reaches children and families through online games and videos, DVDs, mobile apps, classroom math and science kits, and family nights.

Companies Offer Employees Opportunity to Become Book Mentors

BankChampaign's Stephanie O'Connor and Josie Donovan participate in a training to be book mentors.

BankChampaign's Stephanie O’Connor and Josie Donovan participate in a training to be book mentors.

Three additional businesses in Champaign-Urbana are allowing employees to participate in Illinois Public Media’s Book Mentor Project during the work day this year. BankChampaign, Amdocs and McGladrey have joined PNC and Meyer Capel employees in visiting early childhood classrooms once a month to share a book and do an activity with the children.

“Working with children and literature is where my interest and schooling lies,” said Rachel Santarelli, teller manager at BankChampaign. “So I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.” The Book Mentor Project has about 100 volunteers working in classrooms this year, with about 5,000 books being provided to 720 families.