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Under Rocks

A community driven journalism project where listeners get to ask the big questions: who, what, when, where and why. Under Rocks host(s) will attempt to get to the bottom of these unexplored oddities, neglected anomalies, and little-known place-makers of our Midwest region.

Latest Episodes
  • How would you handle yourself in a medieval melee? Do you know what realm you live in? In the latest Under Rocks podcast, our team joins up with Team Belegarth in a Kane County park. When the herald cries "weapons up," these foam fighters really "lay on!"
  • So you've spotted a flock of huge white birds with comically-large beaks riding the Rock River surf. They couldn't possibly be pelicans, could they? They're far too exotic for the Midwest. Right?WNIJ's Under Rocks team heads out in search of the American White Pelican — and finds a festival devoted to these spring-time visitors along the way.Email us your story ideas at rocks@niu.edu!
  • Sometimes, the best way to fix something is to burn it down -- especially when it comes to natural areas choked with invasive plants. Things heat up for the Under Rocks crew as they tag along with Jack Pizzo and Associates for a prescribed burn at his house.
  • A splash of real maple syrup can mean the difference between a good waffle and a great waffle. And once you know the amount of work that goes into making that tablespoon of sweet amber liquid, it becomes even more delicious. We tap into our local sapspert to guide us through the magical transformation we're calling The Sappening.
  • Dry your tears, curling fans! You don't have to wait another four years for the Olympics to roll around to get a fix of your favorite icy sport. There are more than 40 curling clubs in the Midwest, including the Waltham Curling Club, the oldest in Illinois. For the first time, the Under Rocks crew deals with actual rocks as they hit the sheets and aim for the button. Who will come back for the next bonspiel? Good curling, everyone!
  • JJK
    The Illinois Enthusiast | Under Rocks Podcast
    What's an "Illinois Enthusiast?" Behold county expert and Under Rocks fan John Kokoris. He shares his love for his home state and schools the Under Rocks crew on county seals. Check out his seal rankings on Twitter — @johnjkoko.Send your ideas for future episodes to rocks@niu.edu!
  • DeKalb is known for a lot of things: corn, its university, Cindy Crawford… But one of the hidden gems of the city is the little golden pillow of fried dough known as The Beer Nugget. We explore its origins and try to answer the question, "why aren't these EVERYWHERE?"
  • Farms across Illinois are serving up their own little slice of horror this time of year — corn mazes. Haunted corn mazes. The Under Rocks teams asks "Why is corn so scary? And how do I get outta here?!?"
  • Some call it yucky, most call it yummy, and we just call it our beloved pawpaw. The Under Rocks team heads to Paw Paw, Illinois in pursuit of the elusive fruit.
  • RAGBRAI, an annual week-long bike ride across Iowa, returned after a COVID-canceled 2020. In this episode of Under Rocks, we check in with Dan Libman and friends during their pedal across Iowa, then dip into the WNIJ archives for more stories about the ride that brings thousands of people together for friendship, adventure, good causes, and...hamballs?