When you’re young, it’s important to announce you’re not just six or seven, but “And a half!” NPR Illinois is happy to say our newest program, Community Voices, is passing the six-month mark. Co-host Bea Bonner and I have enjoyed the start of this new concept in elevating the perspectives and the breadth of our listeners and neighbors. You hear this phrase every episode, “Community Voices is events you might have missed and conversations with neighbors, artists, and area business people.”
When Community Voices was conceived, we wanted a program that would allow us to go beyond the news. NPR Illinois’ newscasts, State Week, Statewide, and the 21st all meet that bar well and are more focused on Illinois or capital-based stories. We want to be able to hear about things happening locally that might not be news, but are interesting. In these isolated times of the COVID era, we want to hear from each other about how we are faring and coping.
The first six months have seen growing pains. Bea and I are juggling the show with other responsibilities and we plan to reach out to many more guests. To that end, we’ll soon hire a Community Voices production coordinator to help schedule interviews, edit, promote, and translate these conversations and events for digital distribution. The application period closes April 15. If you know an audio producer/production type person who is passionate about the area, please refer them to nprillinois.org to apply.
We’ve learned Community Voices is a very flexible program in its short time on-air. Not only do we feature what are usually 15-minute conversations to help you get to know people, we have also found it is a great way to amplify the work being done by many organizations to bring greater understanding about their efforts. It seems virtual events have exploded during the past year. Most of the time, 30-100 attendees participate. The beauty of these edited events on Community Voices is they reach thousands through the broadcast on NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS and more through our digital channels led by nprillinois.org.
If you haven’t heard Community Voices yet, it airs weekdays at noon and Saturdays at 5 p.m. If you miss the broadcast, you can listen on-demand to the segments on the Community Voices page at nprillinois.org.
Looking back at the guests and events we’ve presented so far, there are a lot of flavors:
- A taste of the TED Radio Hour with TEDxUofISpringfield talks
- Local business startups and COVID survival stories
- The Hoogland Center for the Arts Dracula: A Radio Play
- People with ties to the area who are doing interesting work
- Many panel discussions as we address COVID and diversity/equity/inclusion issues
- Local nonprofits and the people who drive their missions
- Roundtables like the Community Health Roundtable, the UIS ECCE and Lunch & Learn series, and the Next 10 Extra series including revitalizing downtown Springfield
- Commentaries including Robert Smith, Dean, UIS College of Public Affairs and Administration
- Local podcasters including Jeremie Bailey, Raychel McBride, and the Front Row Network
- Musicians and artists like Jeff Curtis Williams, the Deep Hollow, Jose Gobbo Jr., and Logan Campbell
- Historians (this is Springfield)
- And people listeners told us the audience should know
If you have a guest to suggest, please email us at CommunityVoices@nprillinois.org.
It’s been a rewarding project so far for us at NPR Illinois. We love getting to learn more about you and what’s happening locally. Thanks to all our guests and partner organizations.
Remember to listen at lunch and get to know your neighbors with Community Voices on NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS.