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. 

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.

A project based at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library seeks out documents written by the 16th president.  Discovering the items is only part of the work being done.  The Papers of Abraham Lincoln is in the process of making all of the finds available online.  We talk with the director.

Also, a new gambling expansion law will allow horse tracks to look more like casinos, with slot machines and other games being offered.  Is it enough to boost the sagging industry? 

That and more on this episode of Statewide.

It’s estimated 1 in 5 Illinois households don’t use banks, mainly because they can’t meet the requirements of start-up costs and minimum deposits.   So they turn to payday loan operations, even for basic services like cashing a paycheck.  

Former Illinois congressman Paul Findley passed away this month.  He was 98.  Findley served 22 years in the U.S. House. We look back at his career - his successes and controversies. 

Also, this week we find out why some say a new requirement that students participate in active shooter drills could be doing more harm than good.  

And, a group of students in western Illinois are getting involved to get improvements made on a dangerous stretch of highway. 

That and more on this episode of Statewide.

As Illinois has lost more students to colleges elsewhere, certain schools have benefitted more from that change.  We'll look at why students are choosing to leave Illinois for their higher education.

Also, the Illinois River is a major shipping channel in the state.  But much of it will close next year while construction work takes place at locks and dams.  What will that mean for farmers? 

And, we'll introduce you to a clinic that helps pregnant women addicted to drugs.  

That and more on this episode of Statewide.

This week, we learn how thousands are kept in Illinois jails awaiting trial simply because they can't afford bail.  The Illinois Supreme Court is expected to make recommendations to improve the situation later this year.

Also, singer-songwriter Tom Irwin used an 1890's diary of a man who lived in central Illinois to develop his "Sangamon Songs" album.  Now, there's a play based on the man's life.  

That and more on this episode of Statewide.

A Springfield meteorologist who made headlines across the country after refusing to go along with his TV station’s promotion of Code Red severe weather alerts has a new job.

Starting Monday, Joe Crain will oversee the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum’s public events.   

The wet spring in Illinois is reflected in the latest crop numbers that show Illinois' corn and soybeans are behind their normal pace.  We'll discuss what challenges remain in the growing season and what it all means for consumers.

Also, in the summer of 1919 a deadly race riot in Chicago was one of several across the country.  We look back at that incident in what's known as "Red Summer."  

That and more on this week's Statewide.

This Saturday, July 20, marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.   Thousands of individuals contributed to that moment in history.  That includes an airplane engineer from Illinois, John Houbolt.  An Audible original puts the spotlight on him.  We talk with the author. 

Also , Andrew Carnegie is known for gifts that helped create libraries and other education opportunities.  You might not realize that he is also responsible for thousands of pipe organs given across the world, and here in Illinois.  A concert organist is on a mission to track down how many remain. 

That and more on this episode of Statewide.   

The President and CEO of Land of Lincoln Goodwill has resigned, just a day after reversing a controversial decision to lay off disabled workers.  

Can the racial divide be overcome through a basketball tournament?  Al Klunick tells us he wants to try with a unique event where kids of different races play together on the same team.  It's one of the rules for the Community Unity tourney.  

This week marks 40 years since a baseball promotion in Chicago turned into chaos.  While some look back on Disco Demolition Night fondly (the team even celebrated the anniversary this season), others see darker motives.  We talk with the man who came up with the idea.    

And Gov. J.B. Pritzker stands by a decision to cancel a Du Quoin State Fair appearance by the band Confederate Railroad over concerns about the band's name and use of the Confederate flag in its logo.  What it could mean for the fair itself.  

That and more on this week's Statewide.

DNA testing in criminal cases goes to the Illinois State Police crime lab.  And in recent years, more evidence is being submitted.  That is helping add to a huge backlog that results in delays for victims, the accused and the justice system. 

Also, we find out what an Illinois survey on sexual harassment discosvered in the wake of the #MeToo movement.   

That and more on this week's Statewide.

On this episode, while President Donald Trump has rejected the scientific evidence of climate change, nearly half of his voters — many in Midwestern states — believe in global warming. This bucks stereotypes about a rural voting bloc that doesn’t care about the environment. However, don't expect all of them to use the term "climate change."

Also, a major warehouse fire is believed to have destroyed thousands of original master recordings, including many from the legendary Chicago rock and blues label Chess Records.   We find out why that matters.  

That and more more on this week's Statewide.

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — Jurors deliberated less than 90 minutes before returning a guilty verdict Monday at the federal death-penalty trial of a former University of Illinois doctoral student who killed a visiting scholar from China after abducting her at a bus stop as she headed to sign an off-campus apartment lease.

Members of AFSCME Council 31 have a new  labor deal with the State of Illinois, according to the union. 

Officials with Western Illinois Unviersity will be looking for a new president after Jack Thomas announced his resignation.  Thomas' tenure was rocky at the school that has campuses in Macomb and the Quad Cities.  His replacement will deal with an institution still trying to rebound from a state budget impasse and enrollment declines. The WIU Board Chair gives his view of the situation.

We also check in on a new law requiring cursive writing be taught in schools. But just because kids are shown how to do it, will they use it once classes are over?   

That and more on this week's Statewide. 

Our Education Reporter Dusty Rhodes examines what's wrong with the teacher pension system in Illinois and why it needs to be fixed soon.  

Also, gambling addicts are warning the state's gambling expansion will result in more compulsive bettors. And, the governor signs the most comprehensive abortion rights law in the country. That and more on this episode of Statewide.

Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko has been appointed to the position following a nationwide search.  

The heavy and frequent rains across the midwest has resulted in flooding here in Illinois and farmers being unable to get crops in the field.  But there has been another impact: bugs.  Specifically, flying insects like gnats and mosquitoes.  We talk with an entomologist about the swarms and how long they might last.

More casinos and legal sports wagering.  That's the result of a gambling package the General Assembly approved.  

And Steak n Shake, founded in Normal 85 years ago, is facing problems that put the future of the chain in doubt.  That and more on this week's Statewide.

Governor J.B. Pritzker is calling in more reinforcements to help fight flooding.    

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