Dan Klefstad

Morning Edition Host & Book Series Editor

Good morning, Early Riser! Since 1997 I've been waking WNIJ listeners with the latest news, weather and other information, with the goal of seamlessly weaving this content into NPR's Morning Edition.

What do I do after the show ends at 9:00? I read. I'm especially interested in literature from the WNIJ area, which led me to adopt the "Book Beat" in 2012. Throughout the year, I immerse myself in works written by Illinois and Wisconsin authors. Then on the third Monday of each month I interview these writers for Morning Edition. You can access these interviews, plus author readings, at WNIJ's "Read With Me" archive.

If you're a writer from this area, or have a personal connection to this place, send your book to me at 801 N. 1st St., DeKalb, IL 60115. You can also email it to dklefstad@niu.edu. I'm looking for novels, poems, short fiction, essay collections, and memoirs. While many of the books I feature come from traditional presses, I do accept self-published works. Just make sure your book got a good edit.

Thanks,

@danklefstad

#WNIJReadWithMe

Ways to Connect

For National Literacy Month, WNIJ dug into the archives for one of our more popular "Read With Me" interviews. Today's feature originally aired Oct. 16, 2017.

An episode of the 1960s sitcom Bewitched perfectly describes the author-character relationship, according to Linda H. Heuring.

WNIJ is re-visting the "Read With Me" library for some summer reading. One novel about a coach for the Chicago Cubs, The Clubhouse Thief, seems ripe for a second look with the Cubs leading the National League Central Division. Here's an encore presentation of our interview with author James Janko.

"Go beyond the headlines" is the invitation from On Point, a news and issues program produced by WBUR in Boston. Next month, the program gets a new host -- Dave Folkenflik -- and a new station: WNIJ.

NPR listeners are familiar with Folkenflik's reports on the news media during Morning Edition and All Things Considered. On Aug. 24, he'll start a new job as the Friday host for On Point, which will air from 11 a.m. to Noon Central Time on WNIJ.

Editor's note: Our original interview with Marnie Mamminga was published in June, 2013. The author returned to the WNIJ studios in July, 2018, to add the video excerpt below.

450 miles. That's the distance Marnie Mamminga's family traveled every summer from suburban Chicago to their cabin in northwest Wisconsin.

Mamminga recalls the cabin, and the long journey it took to get there, in her memoir Return to Wake Robin: One Cabin in the Heyday of Northwoods Resorts.

The Mission to the Stars series about faster-than-light (FTL) travel begins with a family tragedy. Married couple Jeff and Jennifer Bindl are killed while testing the first spaceship designed for FTL speed. When news of the ship's demise reaches Earth, the Bindls' four sons are left to carry on the mission started by their parents through their company Space Tech.

The "Back of the Yards" is a neighborhood near the old Chicago Stockyards. Since the early 20th Century, it housed immigrants who processed meat in the city that Carl Sandberg dubbed "Hog Butcher for the World" in his poem "Chicago."

Author Sandra Colbert grew up in this neighborhood in the 1950s and '60s, when it was largely Polish and Lithuanian. Her book Chicago Bound re-creates the lives of these residents through short stories that capture their grit, prejudice, violence and dreams.

One day you're an attractive secret agent. The next day you can't look into a mirror without feeling disgust. That's the basic premise of Seven-Sided Spy, a Cold War thriller featuring a trio of CIA agents and their KGB counterparts.

This debut novel by Hannah Carmack is our Read With Me selection for April.

Few people know Peter Pan like Andrea Jones. She loves the 1953 animated Disney classic, plus Mary Martin's and Sandy Duncan's portrayals of the flying forever-boy.

She's also deeply familiar with J.M. Barrie's original 1904 play, Peter and Wendy, and the 1911 novelization. So when Universal Pictures released a live-action film in 2003, Jones was skeptical.

"I said to myself, 'Why do we need another Peter Pan retelling'. But I went with my son, who was young at the time," she said.

Not long ago, the waters off Door County, Wis., had a reputation for danger. Door County gets its name from Porte des Mortes -- French for "door of the dead" -- and for good reason; there are dozens of shipwrecks along the peninsula.

The most recent wreck occurred in 1928.

When a poet writes a novel, it's natural to expect the story to include a poem or some reference to poetry. For her debut novel, poet Marydale Stewart uses a 10th Century verse, "The Wanderer," as a symbol for one of her main characters.

Stewart's book, The Wanderers, is our Read With Me selection for December.

FBI

FBI Director Christopher Wray is testifying before the House Judiciary Committee for an oversight hearing. He is likely to face questions about the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller. Last week, former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador. The hearing also comes days after President Trump attacked the FBI on Twitter, saying "its reputation is in Tatters," citing the investigation of Hillary Clinton's private email server under former Director James Comey.

David W. Berner's latest book is about a song he wrote for his children and his journey to perform it for the first time in public.

Berner's composition, a finalist in a national contest, is the star of October Song: A Memoir of Music and the Journey of Time. His book is our Read With Me selection for November.

A Fine Line is a novel featuring Sebastian Drake, a former reporter for the Chicago Tribune.

A Fine Line is also the name of Drake's novel, which features Jack Cannon, a cop struggling to keep his job with the Chicago Police Department.

On her "Medicare Birthday," author Marnie O. Mamminga celebrated by swimming to an island in Big Spider Lake near Hayward, Wis.

No easy feat for a 65-year-old.

The lake, where Mamminga spent nearly all of her birthdays, is home to Wake Robin, a cabin her grandfather built in 1929. The vacation home, made of tamarack logs, is the setting of Mamminga's first book Return to Wake Robin: One Cabin in the Heyday of North Woods Resorts.

Pick up The Marvelous Paracosm of Fitz Faraday and the Shapers of the Id, and you might guess it involves psychology with words like "paracosm" and "Id." But the phrase "Shapers of the Id" is a clue that we're about to enter the world of parapsychology -- specifically, shaping an Id with the aim of creating one's own paracosm.

"Every human being is an archeological site. What passes for roots is actually a matter of sediment, of accretion, of chance and juxtaposition."

This quotation from writer and critic Luc Sante is a subtle prompt for us to dig into our own past for clues about meaningful experiences.

For NIU Professor Joe Bonomo, that "archeological site" is littered with music.

A bill approved by the General Assembly last week aims to provide more information about local spending required by new state laws.

A task force led by Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti found that Illinois government has imposed 145 unfunded mandates on school districts since 1992. 

April 5, 1938, is an important day for worker safety advocates.

On that Tuesday, a judge ruled that a woman's slow, painful degeneration resulted from working at the Radium Dial Company plant in Ottawa, Ill. The former employee accused the firm of knowingly exposing workers to radium powder, a radioactive material used to make glow-in-the-dark watches and other dials.

Wisconsin Village At Epicenter Of Presidential Campaign, Gay Marriage Debate

This could be the headline of a Leo Townsend article about the conflict in his hometown of Endeavor, Wis.

The fictional reporter might include his efforts to get an exclusive interview with the first openly gay man who's a serious candidate for the White House. Leo might add details about his family's failing farm -- plus his troubled relationship with his father and a secret kept by his younger brother Eddie.

Carl Nelson

The judge for our Mother's Day Poetry Contest, Susan Porterfield, selected five poems that were broadcast during WNIJ's Morning Edition. However, among the 85 entries we received, Porterfield had a soft spot for one more, "Ode to Mother's Day," which we'll feature here.

Carl Nelson

NASCAR meets Mother's Day in today's featured poem. All week we're showcasing the winners of our Mother's Day Poetry Contest. Our judge, Susan Porterfield, picked "Hot Rod Mama!" for a variety of reasons:

Carl Nelson

Food -- the sight and smell of it -- is a powerful trigger for memory. The aroma of a freshly-baked pie, for example, can take us back decades to when we were children in our mother's kitchen.

Niala Boodhoo wants to give you a megaphone. Go ahead; take it.

Call her talk show The 21st and tell her your thoughts about the budget gridlock in Springfield. Air your environmental concerns. Or tell her about an artist you think the rest of the state should know about.

Starting Monday, WNIJ listeners will join audiences in Champaign-Urbana, Springfield, Peoria and Bloomington-Normal who've been hearing The 21st for a little more than a year.

When we launched our Mother's Day Poetry Contest, poet and judge Susan Porterfield suggested she might someday write a poem about her mother's ballet shoes.

Carl Nelson

We all do this: Stand in the greeting card aisle, staring at the mass of manufactured sentiments, trying to decide which will suffice because we can't write something original.

With Mother's Day approaching, there's a good chance you're doing it right now -- or will later today.

Carl Nelson

Remember when we launched our Mother's Day Poetry Contest? Our judge, Susan Porterfield, picked five winning poems out of the 85 we received.

The authors get to read their work on WNIJ this week during Morning Edition. Porterfield also picked a runner-up which we'll tell you more about on Friday.

Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger is facing challenges in the 16th Illinois Congressional District from a local Democrat and his own party.

Rockford-based Nathan Arroyave has said he plans to run a “very progressive” campaign. Like Bernie Sanders, Arroyave wants a single-payer health-care system and a $15 minimum hourly wage.  

Jeff VanderMeer is that rare author who's about to become a household name.

One of his books, Annihilation, was made into a movie which Paramount Pictures scheduled for release this September. The film stars Natalie Portman.

VanderMeer's best-selling novel is an NIU "STEM Read" selection; that group held an event with the author Monday at the DeKalb Public Library.

Mike Doyle wasn't in Belvidere on April 21, 1967. The Rockford native was a freshman at UW-Whitewater when an F4 tornado ripped through Boone County.

But Doyle's been living with that twister for years.

His book, The Belvidere Tornado, was first published in 2008. It tells the stories of people who survived the storm, and the 24 who didn't.

When Doyle finished the manuscript, he got up from his desk and walked into the living room.

Every Mother's Day, millions of Americans take Mom to brunch. Kids try to repay a year of home-cooked meals with breakfast in bed. And those remembering a departed mom place flowers at the cemetery or raise a glass to her portrait.

This year, WNIJ listeners can write a poem and maybe read it on the air. We launched our first-ever Mother's Day Poetry Contest this morning.

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