WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Local Commentaries

The opinions expressed in these commentaries are not necessarily those of Tri States Public Radio or Western Illinois University. Diverse viewpoints are welcomed and encouraged.

Commentary: Serving Up Conversation

Oct 16, 2019

It is the centerpiece for "The Waltons."  Every Sunday the Reagan clan of the”"Blue Bloods" sits around it to talk about family, politics, and the moral question of the week.  For "The Conners"  it is the center of the opening credits and for once they are all laughing,  And we cannot forget the women of "Sex and the City." They always found glamourous ones to sit around to talk about too much detail of their lives, and we soaked it in.   

Courtesy of Rebekah Buchanan

It's odd for me to be writing this commentary. It's been over a year since I've sat down to write something for TSPR. In that year, I've been away on a Fulbright in Norway where my family and I lived in Oslo and I traveled the country talking with upper secondary school students and teachers about the United States.

Science doesn't care if we believe in it or not.  From shrinking glaciers, to open water in the arctic, to trees flowering earlier than normal, the climate will continue to change regardless of our beliefs.  We do have a choice, however, as to how to respond to the crisis we have created.  And in order to respond appropriately, we need to examine how we got here.  You see, I think the climate crisis is really just part of a larger problem about how we, as a species, choose to relate to the planet. 

Commentary: The Dream of the Parents

Sep 25, 2019
Rich Egger

I have been interviewing undocumented immigrant youth, the so-called DREAMers, for over a year. I have spoken with young persons who want to become lawyers, doctors, engineers, and professors. Even though I have tried to reach out to other youth who are not on the college track (45% of DREAMers), it has been challenging to find them. Who wants to be open about their immigration status in our country today?

Commentary: Quality of Life

Sep 18, 2019
Beth Howard

Quality of life. Quality of life. Quality of life. This is your new mantra.


My son is a senior in high school this year. Visiting other university campuses over the past several months has given me a new view of universities --- a view from "the parent side." Those of us in higher education work every day from the inside to make the experiences of our students as fulfilling as possible. However, we can all benefit from an outside view to bring things into focus.

"If you want your white clothes to stay white, don't wash them with clothes that aren't white."  I didn't have to say this to our Willow as we left her with the same family I spent a gap year with in Germany some 34 years ago.  She and her sister have been doing their own laundry since they were eight.  They have also learned to cook and to clean up after themselves.  They know not to spend money they don't have and to always keep some in reserve in case there is an emergency. 

Rich Egger

In recent weeks, there have been hosted discussions and meetings, as well as dialogue on social media, regarding race relations, inclusivity, and moving our community forward. As the mayor of Macomb, I have been involved in the meetings hosted by the NAACP and others, and I have personally met with many of our community's leaders and residents.

Courtesy of Gloria Delany-Barmann

I have built my adult life and my career around the privilege of crossing borders to live, work, and explore.  On various travels to Central and South America, many people have opened their homes and treated me as a friend, a daughter, or sister. These experiences have shaped me in ways that I am still discovering today.

Spring traditionally marks the end of the school year and a time of transition.  My oldest, Willow, who I swear was just born yesterday, will be graduating from high school in a few short weeks.  In the fall, her younger sister Maren will be beginning her senior year at that same school. 

Commentary: Faith is...

Apr 24, 2019
Diego Delso/Wikimedia Commons

Everyone has been exposed to the idea or thought of faith, but not everyone gives it a voice.

Who recognizes faith?

Historically, prophets of old, religious and world leaders, intellectuals, theologians, and existentialists -- to name a few -- have notably grappled with this notion as a lifestyle, foundation, and intellectual discourse.

The Rhythm of Life

Apr 17, 2019
Photo by Rich Egger

This week in the religious world we have holidays and Holy days -- not just in one world religion but two.  It is Holy week leading up to Easter for Christians, and this Friday begins Passover for those in the Jewish faith. So today I thought I would talk about jazz -- the sacredness of jazz, the movement of jazz, and how jazz can be a conduit for the person of faith.  

Ad Wars

Apr 10, 2019

This is a commentary.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are not necessarily those of Western Illinois University or Tri States Public Radio.

I get really tired of pop-up ads on my various computers. To fight the ads, I tried a few things. When shopping, I open an incognito page to learn about items I might want to buy.  I paused or turned off as many activities as possible on Google.  I turn off location on my cell phone unless I get lost.

This is a commentary.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are not necessarily those of Western Illinois University or Tri States Public Radio.

Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican born politician, journalist, and publisher once wrote, "A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots."  I grew up knowing a fair amount about my family history.  I knew that we had roots in Germany, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales.  As a young girl I remember talking to my Mema about her parents and grandparents.  As a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, my Aunt Bea did a lot of genealogical research to trace part of our family back to ancestors who served in the Revolutionary War.  

Some Library Myth-Busting

Mar 27, 2019

This is a Commentary.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are not necessarily those of Western Illinois University or Tri States Public Radio.

When I tell someone that I am a librarian, I often hear one of two responses: "Oh, I love the smell of books" or "That must be fun. You get to read books all day." I'd like to take a minute to bust some myths and replace them with facts about libraries, what happens in them, and the important role they play in our society.

Make America Nice Again

Mar 20, 2019

This is a Commentary.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are not necessarily those of Western Illinois University or Tri States Public Radio.  

The 2020 presidential campaign has begun and with it, the Democratic candidates are descending upon Iowa. Flying in from all parts of the country, they are bringing with them the promise of new ideas, new policies, and, god willing, a new administration.

Time for a Change of Direction and Leadership

Mar 17, 2019
Western Illinois University

This is a Commentary.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are not necessarily those of Western Illinois University or Tri States Public Radio.

Basic Premises

It has become clear to many retired Western Illinois University (WIU) employees, as well as many current employees and alumni, and Macomb/McDonough County community members, that our university is facing unprecedented problems. 

Fact or Fiction?

Mar 13, 2019

This is a Commentary.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are not necessarily those of Western Illinois University or Tri States Public Radio.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity…”

Charles Dickens began the novel A Tale of Two Cities with these words in 1859. They could easily apply to social media today.

It's Time to Get Off the Bench

Mar 6, 2019
Rich Egger

It's been about three years since the first public rumblings of a troubled future for Western Illinois University.   With last week's news of more WIU layoffs in the face of declining enrollment and funding limitations, I went back to review this Facebook post that I wrote in April, 2016, after the musician Prince passed away: 

Advocate for the Tri-States Region. Sign the Petition Today

Feb 25, 2019
Rich Egger

Last week, Dr. Bill Thompson wrote to the UPI Local 4100 membership, "The university is about to go through a third round of layoffs. The last round was only eight months ago. WIU remains in fiscal peril."

As we all know, any layoffs taking place now would be a repeated injury, after we have suffered through more than one previous devastating loss of human resources from our community and region.

Building Bridges by Learning from One Another

Feb 20, 2019

I love learning!  Yes I know what you are all saying; "Monica you better love learning, after all you are in Higher Education!"  Yes yes, yes, yes, of course. But what I mean is, I love learning outside of the classroom and the library.  It is actually one of my Spiritual disciplines,   I am always trying to learn something I did not know before.  In the past it has been inline skating, soccer, cycling, zumba…you get my drift.  Right now my passion is:  Pickleball!  I love this sport!   I was introduced to it in December and I cannot get enough of it.  What is pickleball? Have I sparked your curiosity?  

The Prescription Drug Mystery

Feb 13, 2019

Recently I learned that I could get a necessary prescription medication cheaper if I didn't use my insurance.  I was happy – no more yearly forms to fill out, appeals to make, alternative drugs to try.  And then it dawned on me – I still had to pay my premium, but the insurance company didn't have to pay for my medication. Here is how it works for me. If I get my prescription through my coverage at OptumRx, my cost is $50 per month, and that includes  a detailed and lengthy approval process required by a nameless corporate entity who doesn't know me and whose concern is company profit. If I don't use the coverage, and purchase my prescription at a local pharmacy with an on-line discount coupon, my cost is $35 per month, no approval needed except by my trusted nurse practitioner Brenda Powell Allen.

In many ways women have made substantial gains in the United States since its founding 242 years ago.  We are citizens, can vote and own property, and compose 47% of the workforce.   Yet, we still face inequalities on a daily basis.  The wage gap continues with women earning 80.5 cents to every dollar grossed by men. According the National Women's Law Center, women are 38% more likely to live in poverty than men. We all know about these challenges, but sometimes the most exhausting part about being a woman today is suffering the constant microaggressions.  

Try to be the Light for a Hurting World

Jan 30, 2019

"Would you light my candle?"  These are the words Mimi asks Roger in their opening song in the musical Rent.   Yes, I watched it this last Sunday -- that is for a different essay. Mimi and Roger have both fallen behind in their rent, and their power has been turned off.  Mimi is using a candle for both heat and light in the cold, dark apartment. But her candle goes out and so she asks Roger to relight it.  And for the audience, since we experience the dark, stark apartment, the emanating light draws us all in to this intimate moment.  Roger and Mimi find themselves living in darkness: the darkness of being diagnosed with HIV in the late eighties, the darkness of addiction (Mimi is currently addicted to drugs), and the darkness of mourning loss (Roger has lost his girlfriend to AIDS -- and who else will he lose?).  But a candle on a cold night in December gives Mimi the courage to engage with Roger and even flirt with him a little.

New Year, New Laws

Jan 16, 2019

I read a public radio article titled Survey Finds the Public Lacks Knowledge of State Government that inspired me to take a look at the Illinois General Assembly – our elected representatives and senators. It's easy to conclude that our elected state officials accomplish little since they couldn't agree on a state budget for more than two years, and have not followed their own pension funding rules for decades. We don't have much personal contact anymore since few elected officials of either party have public meetings without pre-selecting their audiences. It is hard to get a positive impression from election materials alone.

Plogging is the New Jogging

Jan 9, 2019
Beth Howard

Sticking to my New Year’s resolution to exercise more and spend more time outdoors, I’ve been doing a weekly Sunday morning hike with two other girlfriends. Near Farmington, Iowa, we discovered miles of trails through Shimek State Forest, a managed plantation of timber. The park, which borders Missouri, is enjoyed by hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders—and, as we quickly learned, Busch Light drinkers.

Every couple of years, my notoriously socially adverse family and I mask our traits that mark us as introverts for one evening and host a New Years Eve gathering.

2018: A Year for Anniversaries

Dec 12, 2018

2018 was a year for 50th anniversaries. Fifty years ago, in 1968, The Beatles gave us the White Album.  The movies Funny Girl and 2001: A Space Odyssey were released. The rock musical Hair stunned audiences, me included. Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In and 60 Minutes premiered on television.  The world lost Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. Emergency 911 service started in the U.S. There was the first successful heart transplant and The Poor People’s March on Washington.

Heather McIlvaine-Newsad

I keep a quote from Mark Van Doren pinned to a bulletin board in my office.  It reads: "The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery."  At this point in the semester, up to my neck with papers to grade, I look at this often to remind myself why I assign so much work.  

Overcoming the Seasonal Blues

Nov 28, 2018

As we near the end of November and officially approach winter, it’s important that we consider the seasonal blues that causes our moods to drop with the temperature. The sun is setting earlier, the snow is falling and leaves are hanging on to their last hope. For some of us, this is the most beautiful time of the year, but for others, the fall and winter can really begin to take a toll on our minds. By this time every year, many of us have already began to experience symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder with Seasonal Patterns. Changes in mood, feeling tired, and high calorie cravings are some of the obvious signs to look out for.