Sean Crawford

Chatham

Community Advisory Board, Ex-Officio

Sean has led the NPR Illinois news operations since the fall of 2009. He replaced the only other person to do so in the station's history, Rich Bradley. Prior to taking over the News Department, Sean worked as Statehouse Bureau Chief for NPR Illinois and other Illinois Public Radio stations. He spent more than a dozen years on the capitol beat.

Sean  began his broadcasting career at his hometown station in Herrin, Illinois while still in high school.  It was there he learned to cover local government, courts and anything else that made the news.  He spent time in the Joliet area as News Director and Operations Manager for a radio station and worked for a chain of weekly newspapers for two years.  Along with news coverage, he reported heavily on sports and did on-air play by play. 

Sean holds a Master's Degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois Springfield. 

We'll find out why tearing down old structures doesn't have to mean sending a lot of material to the landfill.  Deconstruction is a process of salvage and re-use.  Hear how one city is embracing that approach.  

We'll talk with some Springfield area artists who put a face on the issue of homelessness. And we have a conversation about an effort to teach and celebrate statesmanship.

Those stories and more on this week's Statewide.

Authorities have now officially confirmed the identities of three people who died when a twin engine plane crashed in Sangamon County Tuesday afternoon.  The county sheriff's office Wednesday morning released a statement confirming the crash killed former Springfield Mayor Frank Edwards and his wife Cinda, the Sangamon County Coroner, along with John Evans of Glenarm.  A dog on board also died.  

There is still a lot of optimism regarding hemp as a cash crop in Illinois and other states.  But the first year since it became legal to grow shows there is still a lot of work to be done. We'll hear from some farmers.  

Are people from the midwest nicer than those in other parts of the country?  And how can you you measure it?  

Those stories and more on this episode of Statewide.

This week, WBEZ Chicago reported on a 2012 email in which then-lobbyist Mike McClain priased a former state worker for having “kept his mouth shut on ... the rape in Champaign,” among other things.

As he marked a year in office, Gov. J.B. Pritzker talked with Brian Mackey about several issues facing the state, including his thoughts on marijuana.  

The minimum wage hike that just happened in Illinois also meant a pay boost for those under 18, but they will continue to be paid less than other minimum wage earners.  We have a report.

And Western Illinois University has struggled with enrollment, leading to financial problems.  But the interim President says he believes the dark clouds are lifting.  

That and more on this episode of Statewide.

Illinois lawmakers did away with a requirement in 2019 that could have a big impact on those who want to be teachers.  We'll hear from one woman who says it has changed her life. 

With college debt skyrocketing, more high schools see the need to teach personal finance to students.  We'll visit one of those classrooms. 

And not many towns have a poet laureate.  We bring you a report from Aurora, a community that just named its first person to hold that title.  That and more on this week's Statewide.

Marijuana sales began with more than $3 million in sales on New Year’s Day. Backers of the law, however, say that news ought to take a back seat to the more than 11,000 pardons for past pot convictions Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a day earlier.

On last week's episode, we looked back at some of the stories we covered in 2019.  But with the new year upon us, we thought it would be a good time to look forward.  We discuss some of the issues you'll be hearing more about this year.

Starting with the new year, Illinois will expand privacy protections for people who use genetic testing kits. 

It would be difficult to overstate how consequential the past year was in Illinois government and politics. This week on State Week, the panel looks back at some of the top stories of 2019.

 

On our final episode of the year, we remember some of the top reports and conversations from 2019.   

On this show we tried to give an example of the type of journalism we bring you each week: coverage of public affairs, examining problems and solutions, inspirational stories and the voices that make up the state we call home.  

 

Our lineup:

 

 

Travel during the holidays can be stressful.  It can be even more so with a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease in tow.

But the Alzheimer’s Association has some suggestions to make things go smoother and make sure all of the family can participate in activities. 

The Association's Media Relations Senior Manager Elizabeth Cook encourages planning ahead and allowing extra time. 

Victims of domestic violence are told to seek help.  But what happens when a child is violent toward parents?  A central Illinois couple says there's not enough support available.  We'll have a report.

We also hear about special education students being shipped out of state.  There are questions about the schools where they are kept at taxpayer expense.

And we hear how some people handle a holiday tradition: the political argument among family members. 

That and more on this week's Statewide.

This episode looks ahead to the new recreational marijuana law that will take effect the first of the year.  You might have questions and we will try to provide answers.  We'll also hear how marijuana growers are working to meet the expected demand.

A new biography tells the story of Lane Evans, the late Illinois congressman from the Quad Cities.  Evans died in 2014 from complications related to Parkinson's Disease.

And racism in a suburban school district has led to a concerted effort to rebuild trust.

That and more on the latest Statewide.

On this episode of Statewide, we learn why some colleges say there is too much emphasis on standardized tests in the admissions process.  There is a growing movement to drop the requirement or place less of a priority on scores. 

Is an historic home a good fit for you?  Many are bypassing newly built houses for ones that have more character.  But they can be a lot of work.  We'll find out more. 

And a new proposal threatens to end minor league baseball in some Midwest communities.   These stories and more on Statewide.   

As recreational marijuana is set to become legal in Illinois January 1, some parents are worried it sends the wrong message to kids.   We'll hear from experts and young people about ways for parents to have a dialogue on the subject.

Not that long ago, southern Illinois was known as a place where geese would spend the winter during colder weather.  But recently, that trek to the area has stopped.   We'll hear some of the reasons why.

And, a reporter shares her personal account of adoption and the risk she took to reach out to her biological family.

That and more on this episode of Statewide.

This week, we hear about a community once known as a "sundown town" because African Americans were warned to be out of the city limits by nightfall.  It can be difficult for towns to shake that history.  We hear from a reporter who spent time in one to see if things have improved today. 

A northern Illinois man shares his story of getting to know German POW's who were kept in the state during World War II.  

And we learn about a camp for kids with type 1 diabetes.  That and more on this episode of Statewide.

This week marks 30 years since the Berlin Wall came down.  In Illinois, there are two locations where pieces of the wall are on public display.  

You can see a chunk of the wall at a Chicago CTA station.  Or in a more relaxed setting in a peace garden at Eureka College in Woodford County.  The college is the alma mater of President Ronald Reagan, who gave the famous directive to Soviet Leader Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

More than 2,000 state employees report to work at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago's Loop.  But the building, constructed in the early 1980's, has a host of problems.  Repairs will be costly.  The State of Illinois is moving forward in an effort to sell the facility, which some say is an architectural gem.  We look at the pros and cons of the Thompson Center on this epsiode. 

Also, the tragic story of young women who suffered radiation poisoning working at an Illinois factory. That and more on Statewide.

This week, we hear how the legal system can have a disproportionate impact on low income individuals.  Fines and fees can pile up and experts say that can keep people in a cycle of poverty.  We'll learn what other states are doing to improve the situation.

East St. Louis has a rich cultural history, but even many of its residents are unaware.  A new effort is underway to show the town's contributions.

And speaking of history, Illinois has plenty to brag about when it comes to homegrown musical artists.  We'll learn about plans for the Rock and Roll Museum on Route 66.

That and more on this episode of Statewide.

 

We sit down with a woman who spent years in prison for the murder of her 3-year old son.  She was later exonerated.  But in our conversation with Kristine Bunch, she talks about her time behind bars, her struggle with forgiveness and why returning to her friends and family has been challenging.   

The amazing scenery of the Shawnee National Forest makes it a tourist destination.  But some of its most popular sites might soon begin charging admission.  We find out what's behind the change. 

That and more on this episode of Statewide. 

 

 

This week on Statewide, the new Illinois law that will make recreational marijuana legal will create a need for people to work in the industry.  We'll explain how some are getting training through a college program. 

We'll go to Stateville Correctional Center to learn about inmates making the best of their situation.  

And the kudzu vine is a scourge in the southern U.S.  Now, it's showing up here in Illinois.  But there are  individuals who are finding uses for the invasive plant. 

That and more on this episode.

 

Our lineup:

Gov. J.B. Pritzker's approval rating is strong in the latest Illinois Issues survey, conducted last month involving registered voters from across the state.  While more people see the state making progress, a majority of those responding still say the state is going in the wrong direction.  We'll break down the findings.

Also, a national marijuana advocacy group sees Illinois' recreational cannabis law as a big win - not just for the cause in Illinois, but across the country. 

And, a new report has recommendations for keeping teachers of color in the classroom.

This week, we hear from a Champaign-Urbana rap group whose members make their experiences with violence part of their music. 

We learn about a public service announcement depicting school shootings that is grabbing attention.  And that's the point.  Also,  we visit a small Illinois community that is the hometown of a world famous sculptor. 

That and more on this episode of Statewide.

 

Many Illinois colleges and universities are struggling to attract and keep students.  The problem, along with what some are doing about it, is outlined in the Illinois public radio series Enrollment Exodus. 

On this episode of Statewide, we hear those reports from journalists throughout Illinois.  

This week's lineup:

* Sean Crawford talks with Jenna Dooley of WNIJ, who served as coordinator for the series.  She gives an overview of the problem and what the reporting uncovered.

Illinois has several sleepy, small towns that travelers bypass as they motor along highways.  Only a few of these have figured a way to not only get people to stop, but to make their community a destination.  Casey, in eastern Illinois, was struggling like most others just a few years ago.  Then, Casey leaders started thinking BIG.  This week, we hear about the transformation and get some advice for other towns. 

In 2016, Illinois' voting system was hacked and personal information for tens of thousands of voters compromised. As we prepare for another presidential election, we find out what has been done to make the system more secure.

That and more on this week's Statewide.

SEAN CRAWFORD/NPR ILLINOIS

 

Illinois is offering an incentive to those who have outstanding state tax debt in an effort to get them to pay up.  

Those who owe dating back to July 1, 2011 can use a new tax amnesty program that would waive penalties and interest.  It’s estimated to bring in about $175 million due the state. A spokesman for the Illinois Department of Revenue called that estimate "conservative." 

But those wanting to take advantage will need to act fast.  They have from October 1 until November 15 to make a full payment and file the necessary paperwork. 

On this episode of Statewide, many communities have seen the value of keeping and restoring their older theatres.  We take a trip to one town where the theatre is making new memories.  

We chat with Charlie Wheeler, the longtime journalist and professor who recently retired, for his views on statehouse reporting. 

And we learn why some women are turning to truck driving as a career.   That and more this week. 

66 year old Julie Bartolome bid a tearful farewell to her loved ones in the Chicago area as she was sent back to her native Phillipines last month.  Our reporter was there when the matriarch of the family lost her battle with immigration authorities after more than 30 years in the United States. "Stay healthy, eat well," her husband Edgardo said she told him. "Don't cry." 

Also, we learn about tax increment financing and the development tool widely used and sometimes abused.

And, a discussion on the historic Old Slave House in southern Illinois. 

That and more on this week's Statewide.

This week, we recap an ongoing NPR Illinois/ProPublica investigation into complaints of sexual harassment on the University of Illinois' flagship campus.  Reporter Rachel Otwell details the findings.

After a deadly outbreak at the Quincy Veterans' Home, Illinois is taking steps to address Legionnaire's Disease.  But is the state on the right track?  An expert will join us.

And indications are that more mosquitoes could be in our future.  

That and more on this episode of Statewide.

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