Dan Klefstad

Morning Edition Host & statewide newscaster

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

Since January, 2018, I've been delivering Illinois-focused newscasts for NPR listeners on WNIJ and partner stations WUIS, WCBU and WSIU.

As WNIJ's content manager, I'm responsible for what you hear on the air, and what you see on our website and social media platforms.

Questions/concerns/suggestions? Email me at dklefstad@niu.edu. Tweet @danklefstad. Or call 815-753-9000.

Last but not least: Thank you very much if you're a financial supporter of this station. If not, I welcome your new membership here.

Best,
DK

Ways to Connect

Carl Nelson

He's baaack -- with a beer in one hand and an iPhone in the other, getting an earful of political opinions.

Northern Illinois University

Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s controversial remarks could affect the Illinois U.S. Senate race, according to one expert.

Northern Illinois University political scientist Matt Streb says he can’t remember a time when candidates distanced themselves from their party’s nominee. He says this is affecting the race between incumbent Republican Sen. Mark Kirk and Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth.

Aaron Sitze's new book will not help you pass a course in U.S. History. In fact, you'll fail if Sitze's book is the only one you read. But The Andrew Jackson Stories provides an entertaining lesson in Newtonian physics, among other things, and encourages you to keep talking to your plants.

We'll get to those items in a bit. First, Sitze explains his fascination with Andrew Jackson and other famous presidents.

Amy Newman's latest collection of poetry imagines scenes in the lives of seven poets who emerged in the mid-20th Century: Sylvia Plath, John Berryman, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, Theodore Roethke, Delmore Schwartz and Anne Sexton.

Many critics identify these poets as writing in the Confessional style, often in the first person and including then-taboo subjects such as sexual abuse and mental illness.

How important is verbal communication between strangers? Can two people bond using only non-verbal cues?

Author Maria Boynton explores this theme in her novel, Ruthlessly Aadi, a Read With Me book selection for this summer.

When the FBI enters your life, they are not to be trusted.

This is Michelle Monelle's advice to the reader as she revisits her past during a series of interviews with two agents. Monelle is the protagonist of GK Wuori's latest novel, HoneyLee's Girl.

The book is the second of five selections for this summer's Read With Me Book Series.

A motorcycle crashes into a car on U.S. 20. A reporter investigates a town where every child appears to be a truant. And an aide to the governor pushes a bill to outlaw "unschooling."

These are the main plot lines in Kristin Oakley's novel, Carpe Diem, Illinois. The book starts our Read With Me Book Series for this summer. Before we go further, we should explain unschooling.

On Tuesday, WNIJ begins it's Read With Me book series with an interview with Kristin Oakley, author of Carpe Diem, Illinois.

The book is a thriller set in an "unschooling" community in northwest Illinois. Click the audio file above to hear a radio promo that will air throughout Monday on WNIJ.

Here are a few other promos we've been airing for the series:

Next month, we'll introduce you to the latest books from five authors in the WNIJ listening area.

You might've seen short video teasers on social media such as this one, featuring Kristin Oakley.

Oakley begins this Summer's series with her thriller Carpe Diem, Illinois. You can find complete details about the series here.

A thriller set in an Illinois "unschooling" community. A novel about a Maine woman asked by the FBI to revisit her childhood. A tale of two Chicago runaways heading west across the prairie.

These are just three of the books featured during the WNIJ Read With Me Book Series, which returns in June. We'll also explore the lives of Sylvia Plath and other famous poets, and finish with quirky stories about President Andrew Jackson and his gardener.

What made Abraham Lincoln's speeches great? Geometry, according to the authors of a newly re-issued book about the 16th President.

It isn't so much the mathematical properties of space that influenced Lincoln's speeches as the principles of demonstration outlined by the ancient Greek mathematician Euclid.

Republican Senators don't argue about Judge Merrick Garland's qualifications to be the next Supreme Court Justice. Garland is the chief judge of the U.S Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.

They dislike that President Obama nominated him during an election year, during his last year in office, and that the moderate Garland would replace conservative icon Antonin Scalia.

Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth beat two challengers to win the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. That means Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran, will face incumbent Republican Sen. Mark Kirk in the November General Election.

Kirk, a moderate, beat conservative challenger James Marter in the GOP primary.

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk is a Republican who favors gun control and strong environmental protections.

You read that right. If you're surprised, that's because Kirk belongs to a dying breed -- a moderate Republican during a time when GOP candidates are trying to get to the right of each other on issues from abortion to immigration.

So it's not surprising that Kirk faces a primary challenge from conservative James Marter, a Peoria County businessman.

Wikipedia

Voters in the 16th Illinois Congressional District must be happy with Adam Kinzinger. The Republican incumbent has no primary challenger, and Democrats fielded no candidate so far.

Kinzinger took 71% of the vote in the last General Election in this heavily Republican district. Democrats, who controlled the remapping process, packed the 16th with GOP voters to make the neighboring 17th District more Democratic.

Northern Illinois University

One of Illinois’ most Republican Congressional districts, the 14th, was created by Democrats who controlled the redistricting process in 2010.

The party’s map-makers packed GOP voters into this district in an effort to make neighboring districts more Democratic. So it was little surprise when the incumbent, Randy Hultgren, took 65% of the vote in 2014. He has no opponent in the March 15th primary.

Illinois' 6th Congressional District pits a leader in the House Republican caucus against a GOP insurgent who blends Donald Trump-like rhetoric with a Tea-Party platform.

The seat is held by Peter Roskam, first elected in 2006. This year he faces a primary challenge from Gordon "Jay" Kinzler, a Glenn Ellyn surgeon and Lt. Colonel in the Army Reserve.

The politics surrounding the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court may threaten the notion of judicial impartiality. That is, until you realize how political the high court really is.

Few things are more partisan than a justice's decision to retire, says Artemus Ward, a political scientist at Northern Illinois University.

Who will replace Justice Antonin Scalia is a campaign issue, as evidenced by Saturday’s Republican debate. The GOP presidential candidates agreed the Senate should not confirm President Obama's nominee, whoever it is.

The President has the Constitutional duty to name a successor to the late Supreme Court Associate Justice.

If you lost someone dear to you, today's poetry contest winner will sound familiar. "The Daily News" is about the need to share an experience with a friend or lover, and suddenly remembering he or she is no longer there.

"The speaker has lost someone dear," says Susan Porterfield, a poet and Rockford University professor. "And always there is the thought, `I wonder what you'd think if you were here'," she says, adding that anyone who misses a loved one has this habit of thinking.

heatherhopefarm.com

Today's winning poem considers the dichotomy of innocence and experience. "Little Lamb" is, on the surface, about a lamb abandoned by its mother because she can't nurse more than two.

The innocence of the doomed lamb is juxtaposed with the experience of the mother who chooses to devote her energy to the stronger siblings who are more likely to survive.

So far, the winners of our Relationship Poems contest include a haiku about a troubled relationship, a Valentine to corned beef, and a sonnet comparing a young man's beloved to his favorite cheese.

Today's winner is about two lovers not at all bothered about being snowed in. Our contest judge, Susan Azar Porterfield, selected this poem because of the contrast it sets up with the outside world:

Sue Stephens

When you hold a poetry contest involving themes of love or attraction, expect lots of poems using food as a metaphor.

It's as if our attraction to a potential mate and our appetite for food occupy the same place in our brains.

Small wonder, then, that two of the six winners in our "Relationship Poems" contest involved food. Yesterday, we featured a poem about corned beef. Today's winner is called "A Cheesy Love Poem."

Some poems were meant to be read aloud. Today's poem, a Valentine to corned beef, was meant to be sung.

It was written by Doe Macarus of Williams Bay, Wisconsin, who sang it for us during a recording in our studios. Macarus wrote the poem in fourth grade after receiving a Valentine's Day card from a boy. Now 84, she submitted it for our "Relationship Poems" contest.

Her poem is one of six selected by our judge, Susan Porterfield, a poet and English professor at Rockford University.

Carl Nelson

Remember when we asked for your relationship-themed poems for Valentine's Day? We received 118 listener responses by the Jan. 29 deadline, which made for a busy weekend for our contest judge, Susan Porterfield.

Episcopalchurch.org

The Episcopal Church will remain part of the worldwide Anglican Communion -- for now. A recent gathering of the world's top Angilcan bishops, or primates, avoided a separation with the U.S. branch over their full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Carl Nelson

The first time we held a writing contest, called "Three-Minute Fiction," more than 100 people submitted stories. Our judge, GK Wuori, selected five winners -- all of whom got to read their stories to WNIJ listeners in October.

With Valentine's Day approaching, we decided to ask for poems about relationships. These could be sonnets about seduction, burlesques about breaking up, or haiku about healthy relationships.

In 2003, James McManus became the best-known storyteller about poker when he published Positively Fifth Street: Murderers, Cheetahs & Binion's World Series of Poker. The book recounts McManus's reporting assignment for Harper's Magazine, in which he covered the 2000 World Series of Poker from the perspective of a player.

This Spring, the Illinois Reads program will invite residents to read dozens of new books by Illinois authors. One title on their 2016 list is our Winter Book Series selection Paris, He Said, by Christine Sneed.

The novel introduces us to Jayne Marks, an aspiring artist who leaves her New York City life -- friends, steady job, and boyfriend Colin -- for Paris, home of her new lover, Laurent Moller.

Our Winter Book Series continues Monday with Paris, He Said by Christine Sneed.

The novel is about an aspiring artist, Jayne Marks, who leaves New York City for the "City of Light," home of her new lover, a gallery owner named Laurent.

You can hear a snippet of the interview in the radio promo below:

Christine Sneed is a visiting professor at the University of Illinois. Paris, He Said is her second novel.

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