WYCC Interns

WYCC PBS Chicago Interns

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What’s Up With Illinois? A Chat with Governor Pat Quinn

In 2011, former Gov. Rod Blagoevich was convicted on 20 counts of corruption prior to Gov. Patt Quinn taking office.

"This is a time for governance and reform. Politics — we can do that next year," Quinn told the Don & Roma Show. And he was faced with the seemingly insurmountable task of repairing the Illinois state government.

As we look back, and as 2014 governor candidates announce running plans, has he?

In an exclusive for In the Loop, host Chris Bury sat down with the governor to discuss some of the state’s issues like much-needed pension reformconceal and carry, and Rahm’s vision for Illinois casinos, to name a few.

Aside from all of this, the Land of Lincoln is famous for four of the last seven governors serving prison time.

To add insult to injury, in 2011, The Washington Post has named Illinois as having the most governors in prison out of any other union state, asking readers: "What’s the matter with Illinois?"

As Gov. Quinn attempts to put Illinois back together, some discussed the impact of the recent failure to reform Illinois and the candidates for 2014 on Quinn’s chances of running.

It is difficult to say what will happen in the days leading up to the election, but without a doubt, the state’s residents are wondering what’s next for Illinois, and if Quinn will fix this hot mess we are in.

Watch the full episode of In the Loop from last week, featuring Gov. Quinn’s full interview with Chris Bury.

We brought to the studio veteran journalist Andy Shaw of the Better Government Association, political commentator Lenny McAllister, and The Chicago Sun-Times political reporter Natasha Korecki to discuss Illinois’ biggest concerns. Join the conversation! #wyccintheloop

See you for Season 2 on Aug. 22! My internship at WYCC ended last week, and it has been one amazing adventure. At the staff luncheon, In the Loop host Chris Bury quoted writer Finley Peter Dunne, in saying that journalism is meant to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” He reminded me that I love what I do and I can’t wait to see what the future brings.

Thank you to everyone at the station for your kind words, intelligent conversation, keeping the work environment as chill and productive as possible, and wisdom. I hope we can all dance together again soon!

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How much does your life cost? Examining BRCA Genetic Testing

For 5 percent of women newly diagnosed with breast cancer and 10 to 15 percent of those diagnosed with ovarian cancer, this is a question they might ask themselves as they seek treatment options. The second question they might ask: “Does a company have the right to patent your DNA?” As it turns out, the only available test that determines high risk for these cancers comes from a company in Utah called Myriad Genetics.

Angelina Jolie’s recent public announcement that she had a preventative double mastectomy due to testing as high risk for these cancers shined a new light on Myriad. Jolie had turned to Myriad when she was tested for breast and ovarian cancer gene mutations known as BRCA1 and BRCA2.

Within hours of her story being published in The New York Times, stocks for Myriad (MYGN) rose to a historic three-year high, and they continue to rise.

So, let’s revisit our first question: cost. For anyone wanting to know if they have this gene mutation, it is not cheap. One test can cost anywhere from $475 to $4,000. And in 2013, an estimated 232,340 women in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer and an estimated 22,240 with ovarian cancer - and some of these women who could have benefited from Myriad’s test may not have been able to afford it.

In the Loop wanted to know how women in Chicago were affected by the cost and accessibility of this test, and how it is possible for one company to lay claim to DNA. Show producers then discovered Joanna Rudnick, whose personal journey with breast cancer was depicted in her 2008 Kartemquin Films documentary In the Family - a heartbreaking tale told long before Angelina went public.

To find out more on BRCA gene mutations, we invited Dr. Jeffrey Dungan, associate professor Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University, to the studio to find out more with this rare phenomenon that is now on the minds of women, some of whom will have to make the choice of their lives. Tune in this Sunday at 6:30 p.m. for an encore presentation of In the Loop and join the conversation. #wyccintheloop

For additional informational segments on the BRCA gene, visit wycc.org for interviews with Dr. Funmi Olopade of University of Chicago hospitals.

This is Theresa, signing off for now.

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Is CHA’s Plan for Transformation Working? What’s Next for Cabrini-Green?
Retired chef and longtime Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) resident Robert Williams said it was “like a Vietnam.”
For many living there, in Cabrini-Green, these Near North Side high-rises turned into a nationwide example of how public sector living can go wrong. CHA’s Cabrini-Green became well known after national headlines broke in 1981 when 11 residents died due to gang war during a three-month span.
In spite of its long history of violence, Williams, who was interviewed for Episode 115 of In the Loop, lived in his row house for the last 45 years.
"It’s getting better all the time. I can see that myself. Because, for so many years, I prayed to see some change coming and it came," he said.
Indeed it seems like it has changed for remaining residents since the last of the tower buildings were demolished in March 2011. Now all that remain are the row houses. The Cabrini-Green housing project began in 1942, had 24 towers, and was home to 15,000 residents.
Today what remains of Cabrini are the row houses, empty lots where the towers once were, and a new mixed-income high-rise that gives former Cabrini residents an opportunity to live in the same building as market renters. Many of the row houses were also recently shuttered as part of CHA’s Plan For Transformation. According to this plan, “25,000 units will be developed or revitalized” (WBEZ).
Williams chose to stay in his row house simply because he did not want to live on a higher floor. Others, who were forced out of their row houses as part of the transformation plan recently filed suit against the city for neglecting to rehab their homes.
So what has happened to the former residents of Cabrini-Green? Where are they now? Is Chicago’s new mixed-income project a success? In the Loop attempts to answer these questions and more on this Sunday’s encore presentation at 6:30 p.m. Join the conversation.
The show’s producers would love feedback for this week’s episode. Do you know a former CHA resident from Cabrini?

Is CHA’s Plan for Transformation Working? What’s Next for Cabrini-Green?

Retired chef and longtime Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) resident Robert Williams said it was “like a Vietnam.”

For many living there, in Cabrini-Green, these Near North Side high-rises turned into a nationwide example of how public sector living can go wrongCHA’s Cabrini-Green became well known after national headlines broke in 1981 when 11 residents died due to gang war during a three-month span.

In spite of its long history of violence, Williams, who was interviewed for Episode 115 of In the Looplived in his row house for the last 45 years.

"It’s getting better all the time. I can see that myself. Because, for so many years, I prayed to see some change coming and it came," he said.

Indeed it seems like it has changed for remaining residents since the last of the tower buildings were demolished in March 2011. Now all that remain are the row houses. The Cabrini-Green housing project began in 1942had 24 towers, and was home to 15,000 residents.

Today what remains of Cabrini are the row houses, empty lots where the towers once were, and a new mixed-income high-rise that gives former Cabrini residents an opportunity to live in the same building as market renters. Many of the row houses were also recently shuttered as part of CHA’s Plan For Transformation. According to this plan, “25,000 units will be developed or revitalized” (WBEZ).

Williams chose to stay in his row house simply because he did not want to live on a higher floor. Others, who were forced out of their row houses as part of the transformation plan recently filed suit against the city for neglecting to rehab their homes.

So what has happened to the former residents of Cabrini-Green? Where are they now? Is Chicago’s new mixed-income project a success? In the Loop attempts to answer these questions and more on this Sunday’s encore presentation at 6:30 p.m. Join the conversation.

The show’s producers would love feedback for this week’s episode. Do you know a former CHA resident from Cabrini?

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A Blind Bet or a Winning Move for Chicago Schools?

At the height of the Chicago Public School closings crisis, Mayor Rahm Emanuel offers a solution. Here’s a hint: It is red with white dots and lives on a craps table.

But with Illinois’ legacy of political corruption, many wonder who will get the big win, and where our tax money is going?

These are the questions In the Loop hosts Barbara Pinto and Chris Bury ask on Episode 113 which aired last night. You can catch an encore presentation this Sunday (May 12) at 6:30 p.m.

Jerry Roper, President and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, made an appearance on In the Loop, arguing that building a casino within the city limits could rake in as little as $300 million and as much as $900 million in taxes annually.

Mayor Emanuel likes this idea, as it has been projected by legislative analysis that the opening of five Illinois casinos could receive a one-time revenue of $1.2 billion. The mayor released this promotional video (see below) last week stating that 100 percent of gambling money from the new Chicago casino will go to Chicago schools.

A recent study by the American Gambling Association determined that revenue generated by gambling brought in $37.3 billion last year for nontribal casinos, which is a 4.8 percent increase over 2011.

The research added that this is the second-highest total aside from revenues in 2007, when casinos produced $37.5 billion right before the Great Recession hit (you can read more about it here in this AP story.

Where this money will actually go remains to be seen. Groups like Common Cause Illinois fear that the proposal for casinos in Chicago may turn into a feud between Mayor Emanuel and Gov. Quinn. Some might even agree with a recent report by the state of California in partnership with California State University that states casinos hurt more than benefit the communities they are in.

The report called "Economic Impacts of Gambling" says the following:

  • Area residents who used to patronize local restaurants are more likely to stop and eat at the casino.
  • Tourists are more likely to visit casinos and no longer visit other local businesses.
  • Casinos typically buy products for their business that are from out-of state.
  • For every dollar that the casino spends in taxes, three dollars are spent by taxpayers on infrastructure, problem gamblers, and local law enforcement.

In the Loop guest Andy Shaw of the Better Government Association, however, says that casinos could be a good move for our city, it just has to be a conscious and deliberate effort. Read Shaw’s Chicago Sun-Times article here.

To learn more from both sides of the debate, tune in this Sunday at 6:30 p.m. CT to join the conversation.

Until next time, this is Theresa signing off.

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What Happens If Fenger Loses Funding?
Less than four years ago, Fenger High School’s reputation for violence was put in the spotlight when honor student Derrion Albert’s brutal murder was captured via cell phone and later broadcast for the nation to see. (WARNING: Linked report contains disturbing content. Viewer discretion is advised.)
Since Albert’s death on Sept. 24, 2009, Fenger High School has undergone a complete transformation. Peace circles and student counseling have replaced guns and brawls.
Students now can focus more on their studies thanks to a grant . On this week’s episode of In the Loop, host Chris Bury explores how Fenger High School is at risk of returning to its former days as grant money runs out, and how important those funds are for social workers in some of Chicago’s poorest and violent neighborhoods.
Bury interviewed journalist Alex Kotlowitz, who is most recently known for his in-depth contribution to This American Life Episode 487: Harper High School that documented life inside Harper and later caught the attention of First Lady Michelle Obama.
Twenty-nine people have been shot at Harper High in the past year alone.
In the Loop aired a segment of This American Life in which Kotlowitz interviews Harper student Alex, demonstrating that social work funds are necessary for children to escape the violence in their surrounding communities. The most haunting quote from the interview reflects this: “Sometimes, I just need to talk to somebody.” (see above photo)
Kotlowitz and Bury discuss Fenger and Harper being located in some of the city’s most dangerous areas, and why if Fenger loses its grant, is at a very high risk of moving backwards.
Kotlowitz compared the reactions of children to violence in their schools and neighborhoods to those of war veterans - they can both experience PTSD-like symptoms.
If Fenger loses its funding, what other resources would the community fall back on to counsel their children?
Tune in this Sunday at 6:30 p.m. CT for an encore presentation of In the Loop to see the full discussion. You can read more about this week’s guests on our blog here.
Until next time, this is Theresa signing off.

What Happens If Fenger Loses Funding?

Less than four years ago, Fenger High School’s reputation for violence was put in the spotlight when honor student Derrion Albert’s brutal murder was captured via cell phone and later broadcast for the nation to see. (WARNING: Linked report contains disturbing content. Viewer discretion is advised.)

Since Albert’s death on Sept. 24, 2009, Fenger High School has undergone a complete transformation. Peace circles and student counseling have replaced guns and brawls.

Students now can focus more on their studies thanks to a grant . On this week’s episode of In the Loop, host Chris Bury explores how Fenger High School is at risk of returning to its former days as grant money runs out, and how important those funds are for social workers in some of Chicago’s poorest and violent neighborhoods.

Bury interviewed journalist Alex Kotlowitz, who is most recently known for his in-depth contribution to This American Life Episode 487: Harper High School that documented life inside Harper and later caught the attention of First Lady Michelle Obama.

Twenty-nine people have been shot at Harper High in the past year alone.

In the Loop aired a segment of This American Life in which Kotlowitz interviews Harper student Alex, demonstrating that social work funds are necessary for children to escape the violence in their surrounding communities. The most haunting quote from the interview reflects this: “Sometimes, I just need to talk to somebody.” (see above photo)

Kotlowitz and Bury discuss Fenger and Harper being located in some of the city’s most dangerous areas, and why if Fenger loses its grant, is at a very high risk of moving backwards.

Kotlowitz compared the reactions of children to violence in their schools and neighborhoods to those of war veterans - they can both experience PTSD-like symptoms.

If Fenger loses its funding, what other resources would the community fall back on to counsel their children?

Tune in this Sunday at 6:30 p.m. CT for an encore presentation of In the Loop to see the full discussion. You can read more about this week’s guests on our blog here.

Until next time, this is Theresa signing off.

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Chicago’s First Black Mayor Paves the Way

“‘What about a black person becoming mayor?’ And the conversation stops as if I said, ‘What if we are invaded by martians tomorrow?’” -Veteran Chicago journalist Monroe Anderson, who wrote a 1982 op-ed predicting the election of Chicago’s first black mayor, appearing on yesterday’s episode of In the Loop

In 1983, 29 years after our nation’s Civil Rights Movement began, the notion that anyone other than a white person could become mayor in Chicago was inconceivable. On this week’s episode of In the Loop, hosts Chris Bury and Barbara Pinto explored how the election of Chicago’s first black mayor paved the way for the nation’s first black president, who also hails from Chicago.

Harold Washington beat the odds and won in 1983, his presence taking the city by storm and racially dividing it. This Chicago Tribune article states that “…racial tensions were so high in Chicago that Republican candidate Bernard Epton, a liberal former state legislator, became the favored son in blue collar and white ethnic neighborhoods.” And according to a 2012 Newsweek/Daily Beast poll, President Obama has more recently racially divided the country. What is the connection? 

Tune in this Sunday April 14 at 6:30 p.m. to learn more about this historic election during the encore presentation of In the Loop. Hear perspectives from author Peter Nolan and political consultant David Axelrod about how Washington made racial history in the Second City, and also made diversity in U.S. politics more socially acceptable. And be sure to explore the city’s celebration of Harold Washington’s legacy, beginning today. Harold Washington Day is this Monday, April 15.

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Caring for Illinois Seniors: Are Baby Boomers at a Breaking Point?

"She’s just like family. She does all my grocery shopping and everything. And that means so much to have somebody that can do these things for you," said Jane McDonald, who was featured on this week’s episode of In the Loop. McDonaldis an 80-year-old grandmother, wife, and mother. She is one of 80,000 Illinois seniors who depend on home health care. But if the state’s budget crisis continues as it does now, the public will have to take responsibility for the consequences.

Every year the state prematurely runs out of money for the fiscal year, forcing home health care providers to go without funds for a few months. Some providers make do, while others are forced to cut budgets or close.

But as Episode 108 of In the Loopreported, this year, the state ran out of money 3 1/2 months early. The Illinois Department on Aging depends on these funds in order to assist older adults and help them retain independence. Bob Thieman, the Executive Director of the Illinois Association of Community Care Program Homecare Providers said in an interview for In the Loop that if home care providers are unable to assist, the affected senior will wind up in a nursing home that costs the state (and therefore taxpayers) four times as much as it does to provide home care aid.

What is the source of budget issues for Illinois? In the Loop discussed another of the state’s worries in Episode 104 on pension reform (full episode at the link).

The question now is this: What is being done to help the families of today’s grandparents and aging Baby Boomers? Tune in to the encore of In the Loop this Sunday, April 7 at 6:30 p.m. CT as hosts Barbara Pinto and Chris Bury search for answers.

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CPS School Closings: A Discussion on In the Loop
How will school closings in Chicago affect the children? If the city needs to save money, will closing schools do this? These are the questions on the minds of many since the first round of public education centers shut down beginning in 2011.
In the Loop hosts Chris Bury, Barbara Pinto and guests answered these important questions on Episode 107. If you missed last night’s broadcast, you can catch an encore presentation of In the Loop this Sunday at 6:30 p.m. CT. For a complete list of guests and panelists from Episode 107, please visit the WYCC PBS blog here.
Many upset parents, teachers, students, and allies took to the streets this week to protest. Both DNAinfo.com and NPR’s “This American Life" reveal that children from these closing schools do not join gangs, but based upon where they are born and raised, are automatically affiliated with them. But there are concerns other than gang violence looming for parents.
Jeanette Taylor, one parent interviewed for In the Loop, does not believe consolidating schools will improve education for children and fears her child’s school will face overcrowding. Mollison Elementary already has 36 students per classroom and the nearby closing will bring another 400 more school-wide. “You’re talking about building for money, not education for the kids,” Taylor said.  
Community organizer Jitu Brown from Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, also interviewed for ITL, noted that more schools are in need of more arts programs, not closures.
To hear what CPS Chief Safety and Security Officer Jadine Chou had to say about what must be done to aid this difficult situation, and what might happen to closed school properties, please watch In the Loop this Sunday at 6:30 p.m. #wyccintheloop

CPS School Closings: A Discussion on In the Loop

How will school closings in Chicago affect the children? If the city needs to save money, will closing schools do this? These are the questions on the minds of many since the first round of public education centers shut down beginning in 2011.

In the Loop hosts Chris Bury, Barbara Pinto and guests answered these important questions on Episode 107. If you missed last night’s broadcast, you can catch an encore presentation of In the Loop this Sunday at 6:30 p.m. CT. For a complete list of guests and panelists from Episode 107, please visit the WYCC PBS blog here.

Many upset parents, teachers, students, and allies took to the streets this week to protest. Both DNAinfo.com and NPR’s “This American Life" reveal that children from these closing schools do not join gangs, but based upon where they are born and raised, are automatically affiliated with them. But there are concerns other than gang violence looming for parents.

Jeanette Taylor, one parent interviewed for In the Loop, does not believe consolidating schools will improve education for children and fears her child’s school will face overcrowding. Mollison Elementary already has 36 students per classroom and the nearby closing will bring another 400 more school-wide. “You’re talking about building for money, not education for the kids,” Taylor said.  

Community organizer Jitu Brown from Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, also interviewed for ITL, noted that more schools are in need of more arts programs, not closures.

To hear what CPS Chief Safety and Security Officer Jadine Chou had to say about what must be done to aid this difficult situation, and what might happen to closed school properties, please watch In the Loop this Sunday at 6:30 p.m. #wyccintheloop