The American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) is glad to share that 1,293 episodes of WILL-AM’s flagship program, Focus 580, are now available in a special collection! From 1988 through 2005, the series was a live public radio call-in talk show at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign broadcast Monday through Friday from 10 am to noon, including two hour-long episodes each day.
Search the Focus 580 Collection online at https://americanarchive.org/special_collections/focus-580.
Focus 580 was hosted by David Inge and produced by Jack Brighton, who also served as guest host on the series. Topics include international affairs, politics, health, the environment, science and technology, education, racial and gender equality, and social justice, to ordinary interests of daily life such as gardening, home maintenance, music, and books.
Brighton is also a member of the AAPB Stations and Producers Advisory Committee and was willing to write a quick note for the AAPB audiences about the series:
During its 30-plus years on the air, Focus 580 represented local public radio at its best. It wasn’t about educating the audience about the world; it was about exploring the world with the audience – every facet of the issues and concerns that arise in this thing we call the public sphere. The guests represented expertise and viewpoints from across the spectrum, moderated by a host, David Inge, who could provide an entry point into a meaningful and productive conversation. It’s immensely gratifying that so much of Focus 580 is preserved in the American Archive of Public Broadcasting, as the interviews and conversations in these historical audio recordings have much to offer the future.– Jack Brighton, Focus 580 Producer and Guest Host
Audience participation was central to the mission of Focus 580, as it sought not only to inform, enlighten, and entertain, but also to use conversation to create community. The program usually attempted to connect the concerns of its local community with state, national, and international issues of the day. It relied upon the expertise of faculty and subject matter experts who were accessible at the University of Illinois, in addition to the live telephone interviews with guests from around the globe.
The AAPB Focus 580 collection comprises a significant portion of the more than 11,000 interviews aired during the program’s tenure. Many more of those interviews have been digitized and are accessible for streaming on WILL’s website.
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