Monday, November 30, 2009

WUIS Public Radio launches new "Alternative" digital station

WUIS/Illinois Pubic Radio
has launched a new “alternative” digital radio station as part of a nearly $300,000 upgrade effort.

The new station called “Xponential Radio” signed onto the airwaves in mid-October and can be received by using an HD radio or listening online at The station is available on the second channel (HD-2) of the primary WUIS 91.9 FM digital signal.

“The advantage is we can offer more services to the region. We’ll be offering 3 radio stations eventually,” said Bill Wheelhouse, WUIS Public Radio General Manager.

Wheelhouse describes the “Xponential Radio” format as alternative music designed for public radio. The station’s playlist features music from artists like David Bowie, Lyle Lovett, and Elvis Costello. The primary WUIS (HD-1) channel will continue to carry NPR programming, classical music, and local news.

“With this second channel we also hope to serve UIS students more. Down the road we hope we could offer some UIS athletics on the HD-2 channel,” said Wheelhouse.

WUIS is the first radio station in Springfield to launch a secondary station designed for digital radio, but Wheelhouse feels it will catch on. He says dozens of new digital radio stations are already being started in larger markets like St. Louis and Chicago.

“We hope to see a lot of radio stations doing it to make it worth your while to buy a digital radio,” said Wheelhouse.

As part of the digital upgrade WUIS is replacing all of its studio equipment with state-of-the-art technology to improve audio quality. Wheelhouse says listeners are already noticing the difference when they tune in. The station is also putting the finishing touches on the Suggs Performance Studio, where it hopes to broadcast live music and political forums.

A federal grant paid for $137,000 in new equipment for the station. The rest of the money for the upgrades has come from listener donations and a loan taken out by the station.

For more information on the WUIS digital upgrade contact Bill Wheelhouse at 217/206-6402 or You can listen to both WUIS radio stations streaming online at

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Monday, October 26, 2009

WUIS 2009 fall fund drive reaches record goal

Listeners helped set a record fundraising total for WUIS this fall as over $150,000 has been raised to support programming costs at the media outlet. The record goal was necessary to cover cuts in state arts grant funding. AFSCME Council 31 provided a challenge match to start the fund drive. Over 100 volunteers helped reach the goal.

The final total for listener support will be over $150,000 as pledges are still being made online at

WUIS’ two annual fund drives are the station’s largest source of revenue, covering 35 percent of the WUIS budget. This is the portion of the budget that pays for program fees and production.

WUIS listeners continue to support the unique news and entertainment programming the station provides to Central Illinois. Many listeners cite state and local government news coverage, along with NPR’s in-depth coverage of national and international news as critical to their support. The mix of classical and jazz music is also cited.

This fall’s drive also marked the debut of a second channel of programming at 91-9 HD2. WUIS Exponential features an eclectic blend of blues, rock, world, folk, and alt-country which is also available through streaming at It is the first HD2 channel in Springfield.

WUIS is Central Illinois’ source for NPR (National Public Radio). WUIS content is available from Springfield at 91.9 FM, 91.9 HD1 and 91.9 HD2; in West-Central Illinois at 89.3 FM; and worldwide at The listener-supported media outlet’s mission is to enrich Central
Illinois through independent journalism, programming and community outreach.

For the program schedule, events, and other information, call the station at (217) 206-6516 or visit

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Illinois Issues and WUIS take top awards

Journalists from Illinois Issues magazine and WUIS/Illinois Public Radio took home six combined “Best of Statehouse Reporting” honors in a national competition. The awards were sponsored by Capitolbeat, which is made up by reporters and editors.

Illinois Issues Columnist Charles N. Wheeler III won first place in the Columns/Commentary/News Analysis category for magazines for his columns that appeared throughout the year.

Dave McKinney won third place in the same category for his analysis, “The two faces of Illinois politics.” His article appeared in the January 2009 edition of Illinois Issues and compared the reputations of newly elected President Barack Obama and then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was impeached and removed from office later that month. McKinney is a reporter at the Illinois Capitol for the Chicago Sun-Times.

WUIS/Illinois Public Radio Statehouse Bureau Chief Sean Crawford and reporter Amanda Vinicky won first place in In-Depth Reporting for their report, “The Fall of Governor Rod Blagojevich.” Vinicky also won second place in the Single Report category, and Crawford won third place awards in the Single Report and Beat Reporting categories.

The annual awards were announced August 22 at Capitolbeat’s conference in Indianapolis. The organization marked its 10th anniversary this year as the nation’s only professional association devoted to state government journalism.

For more information about the “Best of Statehouse Reporting” awards visit or

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Friday, May 15, 2009

WUIS radio station is in the midst of big changes

By Courtney Westlake

A sign hanging in the station of WUIS Radio aptly reads “WUIS Construction Zone”.

Big changes are coming to WUIS over the next six months, as is evidenced by construction debris and storage piled high throughout the station.

“We are truly rebuilding WUIS,” said Bill Wheelhouse, general manager of the station. “We have a federal grant of $137,000 matched locally with same amount for this project.”

WUIS is becoming a fully digital station “inside and out,” Wheelhouse said. The station will be getting technical upgrades that will improve its sound quality and that will also allow those who have special HD digital radios to get extra signals.

“We plan on launching a signal in the fall of alternative music - an alternative public radio format - that will be both on the Web and on HD radio; and down the road, a third station,” Wheelhouse said.

Additionally, the Suggs Performance Studio, funded largely in part by the Suggs family, has played host to several recent performances for WUIS and will be getting a makeover as well.

“Right now, a new studio is being constructed, and then we can begin ripping out the rest of the old radio station,” Wheelhouse said. “Hopefully that will be seamless, but we'll be doing a lot of work over the next six months.”

“We’ll have performances ranging from rock to jazz to classical in that studio and host events and things like that,” he added. “We've had shows in there, but it will be fully functional by October and allow for community forums, recording if someone wanted to record something and allow us to serve both the university community and central Illinois region in a lot of new ways.”

The current WUIS radio station is outdated technically so some of the improvements just needed to be made “in the course of ordinary business,” Wheelhouse said. With the new improvements, WUIS will be able to provide complete service to central and western Illinois and represent the university well in those areas.

“As we try to serve on the many platforms that will be out there, whether it’s the Web or through ordinary radio or digital radio, doing this will allow for more efficiency and allow us to provide more services and access,” Wheelhouse said. “We're excited.”

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

WUIS awarded two journalism honors in Illinois AP competition

WUIS 91.9, the public radio affiliate based at the University of Illinois at Springfield campus, received two journalism awards in the latest competition sponsored by the Illinois Associated Press. The news station was honored with second place awards in the categories of Best Investigative Report and Best Documentary.

State Capitol reporter Amanda Vinicky’s report called “The Representative Who Didn’t Show” about an Illinois lawmaker who wasn’t showing up for work was awarded second place in the Best Investigative Report Category.

Vinicky also collaborated with Illinois Issues Magazine State Capitol reporter Bethany Jaeger for a project that received second place for Best Documentary. That report, “Along the Autism Spectrum,” focused on three families affected by autism. The families discussed issues such as how they get schools to meet the children’s special needs, how they cope with awkward social situations, and how challenges change as the children grow.

“These awards demonstrate that WUIS listeners are getting quality journalism, not only at the national level from NPR (National Public Radio), but at the local and regional level from our own reporters,” said Bill Wheelhouse, WUIS General Manager.

Both WUIS and Illinois Issues are part of the Center for State Policy and Leadership at UIS.

WUIS can be heard at 91.9 FM in central Illinois, 89.3 FM in western Illinois and on the web at The mission of WUIS media is to cultivate curious, civically-engaged audiences and enrich the community through independent journalism, programming and outreach.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

WUIS fall fund drive ends close to goal

Public radio station WUIS 91.9 finished its fall fund drive short of its goal; however the station still raised nearly $125,000 to support programming. WUIS' goal for the drive was 1,400 pledges; almost 1,300 pledges were received. The on-air portion of the drive was conducted October 16 through 24. A pre-drive renewal campaign accounted for approximately one quarter of the total pledges.

Listener support from two annual fund drives is the station's largest source of revenue, covering 30 percent of the WUIS budget. Pledges can still be made online.

The fall drive occurred in the midst of the station's coverage of the current economic crisis, which led Development Director Randy Eccles to reflect, "Considering the mood, listeners stepped up and were generous in their support." Eccles said that many listeners commented that they would like to make a larger gift, representing the value they feel WUIS provides, but couldn't afford it.

General Manager Bill Wheelhouse said that while total funds pledged were down from campaigns in the past two years, he was pleased with the response. "Many listeners let us know that the in-depth reporting on the economy and elections were major reasons they listen to WUIS," he said. "It is gratifying to know there are so many passionate supporters of public radio in the region."

WUIS hopes to cover the shortfall with additional events and alternate fundraising plans, such as the WUIS Passports Tour listener trip to Belize. In March, Statehouse reporter Amanda Vinicky will accompany listeners to the Central American country for a tour led by Dave Cox of Lincoln Land Community College. Everyone who made a pledge during the fall fund drive has a chance to win a spot for two on the trip.

WUIS is listener-supported and a National Public Radio affiliate. WUIS content is available in the Springfield/Central Illinois area in HD at 91.9 FM, in West-Central Illinois at 89.3 FM, and worldwide online. The station's mission is to satisfy a curious, engaged audience through programming and community outreach. Program schedule, events, and other information is available online, or call the station at 217/206-6516.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

WUIS and Illinois Issues produce program on autism

Public Radio WUIS 91.9 and Illinois Issues magazine are joining together to present a special Illinois Edition focusing on autism. The program will air Friday, September 26, at 6:30 p.m. with a rebroadcast on Saturday, September 27, at 6:30 a.m. Amanda Vinicky (at left), WUIS Statehouse reporter, and Bethany Jaeger (below, right), Illinois Issues Statehouse bureau chief, produced the program, which takes a look at the progressive and unique life challenges that autistic children and their parents face.

During the program, three families affected by autism relate how they get schools to meet children's special needs, how they cope with awkward social situations, and how challenges change as the children grow and become adults. Listeners will also hear from an expert on special education law, who discusses new tools that may help kids transition through life phases, and a representative of the HOPE Institute/The Autism Program (TAP), who shares the effects of music therapy.

According to the Autism Society of America, "Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person's ability to communicate and interact with others." The effects differ from child to child, which is why the term 'autism spectrum' is often used.

"The Spectrum," an article on autism written by Jaeger, appears in the September 2008 edition of Illinois Issues.

Illinois Issues is a not-for-profit monthly publication dedicated to providing analysis of public policy in Illinois with a special focus on state government and politics. UIS is a listener-supported National Public Radio (NPR) affiliate with the mission of satisfying a curious, societally engaged audience through programming and community outreach. Both Illinois Issues and WUIS are units of the Center for State Policy and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

WUIS-WIPA adds "The Splendid Table" to program line-up

Public Radio WUIS-WIPA will add The Splendid Table®, public radio's national food show, to its program schedule beginning Sunday, August 17. The program will be broadcast Sundays at 3 p.m.

Produced and distributed by American Public Media™ in Saint Paul, Minnesota, The Splendid Table is an hour-long culinary, culture, and lifestyle program that celebrates the intersection of food and life. Each week, host Lynne Rossetto Kasper takes listeners on a journey of the senses and talks with a variety of noted personalities who share their passion for the culinary arts.

The program has been recognized with two James Beard Foundation Awards and two Clarion Awards from The Association for Women in Communications. In 2000 it was named "Best National Syndicated Talk Show" by American Women in Radio and Television.

Kasper has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Food Wine magazine, and Bon Appetít. Named "One of the 12 Best Cooking Teachers in America" by The James Beard Foundation, she also lectures internationally on food and culture. Her first cookbook, The Splendid Table, is the only book to date to be named Cookbook of the Year by both the Julia Child/IACP and James Beard Foundation. Kasper's advice column, "Ask The Splendid Table," is distributed by Scripps Howard News Service. Her latest book is How to Eat Supper: Recipes, Stories, and Opinions from Public Radio's Award-Winning Food Show. More information about the show is available at

WUIS-WIPA is a listener-supported public radio service of the Center for State Policy and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Springfield. WUIS' mission is to satisfy a curious, societally engaged audience through programming and community outreach. For more information or for the program schedule, visit

American Public Media is the largest owner and operator of public radio stations, also producing top programs reaching more than 15 million listeners weekly. For a complete list of stations, programs, and additional services from the APM national network, go to

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