Rachel Otwell

Journalist / Illinois Edition Producer / Host of: The Scene, Heartland & The P-Units

Rachel's reports focus on the arts, community, and diverse culture. She produces NPR Illinois' original program, Illinois Edition. She also hosts The Scene, which airs on Fridays and features cultural happenings in the central Illinois region.

She's a 2012 graduate of the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois Springfield. While working toward that degree she spent a session covering the state legislature for NPR Illinois and Illinois Public Radio with a focus on fracking. Rachel also holds degrees from UIS in Liberal & Integrative Studies, Women & Gender Studies, and African-American Studies. She's tutored Rwandan refugees in Ohio, volunteered at a Kenyan orphanage,  served as an activities assistant at a nursing home, and volunteered at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand. 

Rachel started a career in public media in 2011 when she interned for the National Public Radio program Tell Me More with Michel Martin in Washington, DC. Her reports have also appeared on NPR's Weekend Edition, NPR's All Things Considered, NPR's Morning Edition, WorkingNow.org, and 51%.

springfieldchoralsociety.org

There will be a rare performance of Bach's Mass in B Minor in Springfield this Saturday. It's being performed by the Springfield Choral Society as part of the Liturgical Arts Festival of Springfield. Details regarding the time and location of the performance are in the flyer above. Marion van der Loo is the conductor of the group, she joined us to preview the event:

When most people in the U.S. hear the word immigrant they probably think of someone coming to the country from Mexico. However in Illinois cities, like Champaign, there are growing populations of immigrants from African countries as well.

USER: Hendrike, Wikipedia // USER: Deviation56, Wikipedia

Instances of prescription opioid abuse have been steadily climbing in the past couple decades across the country, and here in Illinois. According to the state's department of public health more than half of the overdose deaths in Cook County in 2014 were due to heroin. 

We've put together a roster of moms, and a dad or two, who will join us on Illinois Edition to take on issues that matter to those trying to successfully raise children in these hectic modern times. Rachel Otwell, NPR Illinois reporter and the mother of a toddler, hosts the rotating panel.

Rachel Otwell

Welcome to our second episode! We have an interview with science editor for The Guardian, James Kingsland. His new book is called: Siddhartha's Brain: Unlocking the Ancient Science of Enlightenment. He also has a blog about neuroscience and Buddhist psychology, called Plastic Brain

The Scene With Photographer David Brodsky

Apr 28, 2016
brodskyphotoart.com

This week The Scene is joined by guest host David Brodsky, who often takes pictures of unwitting subjects. You can find a profile piece about him here. A collaborative show will include his work, it's called Translations and opens on Friday night. Take a listen to learn more:

This week we talk about an upcoming art show at The Pharmacy gallery in Springfield featuring the work of longtime friends and artists Wendy Allen & Carol Bridges who both create unique and colorful pieces using textiles. Both women are inspired in part by their own sense of spirituality... Tune in!

United States Congress

Another Illinois politician is facing potential prison time. This time it's Dennis Hastert, a former Republican Illinois Representative who served as the US Speaker of the House from 1999 to 2007.  Hastert, now 74 years old, grew up in northern Illinois and spent time as a high school teacher and wrestling coach before making his way into politics. A hush money case that surfaced about a year ago and dredged up allegations of prior sexual abuse has him in the national spotlight.

Rachel Otwell

It's now close to a year since Illinois had a budget in place. The impasse has led to increased attention for what many consider a financial crisis. On Sunday, comptroller Leslie Munger announced pay for the legislature and its constitutional officers will be delayed, as have many payments for vendors and service-providers . The amount of unpaid bills is nearing $8 billion. Meanwhile, some members of the legislature are trying to pass a measure that would cease their pay as well - and make it contingent on passing a "balanced budget."

Scott Griessel/flickr, user: creatista & trailheadcenter.org

Welcome to the new podcast where we create conversations about spirituality and how it intersects with everyday life. Check out the program page for a little more info, if you wish - but for now, let's dive right in.

epsom.bandcamp.com

This week we chat about upcoming arts shows and music shows, and we talk vinyl and the magic of listening to albums in their entirety because Saturday the 16th is Record Store Day! Tune in:

Events discussed this week include:

Rachel Otwell

A student at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana was charged with murder this week, after she turned herself in and showed authorities the body of a newborn in her back-pack. Authorities say Lindsay Johnson - 20 years old from Monee - suffocated her son last month after giving birth to him in a dorm bathroom.

Rachel Otwell

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Each year over 500 people in central Illinois who are victims of sexual violence are given counseling, legal and medical advice and support, and even clothing if needed, all at no charge to them. That’s through Springfield's Prairie Center Against Sexual Assault – in the state there are 28 other similar groups, all part of a state coalition.

c-uphd.org

In Illinois, House bill 6073 would make it so transgender people can change the sex designation on their birth certificate without having to have reassignment surgery. Proponents of the measure say it's a needed change since not all trans people want the surgery, and many who do can't afford it. 

Kari Bedford / jirwinmusic.com

It's a family affair this week as Tom Irwin and son John Irwin join us in the studio. They tell us about their current musical projects and share a tune, recorded live, as the song of the week! Tune in:

Events discussed this week include:

christieblizard.com

Christie Blizard is an artist and professor from San Antonio, Texas. She's in Springfield setting up an installation in the alternative art space on the Springfield Art Association's campus, known as the Demo Project. Blizard spent 2015 making several appearances in the crowds holding signs for the Today Show & Good Morning America. (You can find some of those here.) A reception for her show called 'The Sex of Life' is planned for Friday night.

mergerecords.com/ivy-tripp

Katie Crutchfield, a.k.a Waxahatchee, has - much to her own surprise, become an indie-rock darling with national recognition. Her newest album, Ivy Tripp, has been critically acclaimed (ie: here &  here), as have her previous two records. The name of the project comes from a creek in Alabama – which is Crutchfield’s home state. 

Local artist Wendy Allen along with Carol Bridges, an artist from Indiana, have a show and workshops coming up in Springfield, including a talk about "The Intersection of Art and Spirituality" at The Pharmacy in Springfield on Wednesday. Both work with textiles and have colorful artwork that celebrates various spiritual aspects and lives of women.

The Scene: Vachel Lindsay & Contemporary Poetry

Mar 30, 2016
Wikimedia Commons

This week we talk about a "SlutWalk" planned for this weekend, and Nikki Overcash joins us to discuss one of Springfield's literary heroes and ways to celebrate National Poetry Month in town (click here for a list of those events.) Tune in!

Amanda Vinicky

It had been a long time coming, but Illinois' pilot program for medical marijuana has finally kicked off last November. It's been slow growing for the industry so far, and there are many restrictions.  The business HCI Alternatives has two medical marijuana dispensaries in the state now. 

The Black Sheep Cafe

It's a bit of a slow week as families gear up for spring break, but we still have plenty to talk about. We discuss an art show, a unique chance for women to make a vision board, a feminist spoken word duo and two books dealing with very different artists. Tune in!

Spirituality is a topic not often discussed on the radio, or in the mainstream media as a whole. Yet it's something that's a major part of many people's lives. Even those who are agnostic or atheist may be interested in hearing about various religions - the ways they differ, and also what they have in common. Some may choose to buck religion, but still want to hold onto some aspects of spirituality.

Rachel Otwell

In some schools around the state - fewer art classes are being taught. Meanwhile, art advocates say they help students creatively problem solve and art is crucial for a well-rounded curriculum.

Wikimedia Commons

It's that time of the week to get our your planners and decide what do this weekend. Indie film preview sound nice? Perhaps some symphony? Listen in, and stick around for Culture Corner and our Song of the Week - we've got two vastly different tunes for you, plus we talk about the only instrument played without being touched...

courtesy of Corey Woodruff

It’s called Facebook - but how often do you actually come face-to-face with most of your friends on the social media site? Corey Woodruff is a photographer based in St. Louis - he decided to explore our connections with others with his project titled: All of the Faces

Rachel Otwell

This week Scott and Rachel take a visit to the Springfield Art Association campus and get to know two artists who have a reception planned for Friday at DEMO. We also talk with area native, Andrew Woolbright, who now lives in New York. His work is on display at the UIS Visual Arts gallery. Tune in:

A new artist collective has moved into Springfield. Located in South Town, it recently planted roots in a local bar, Bourbon Street. The group, called HISO, hopes to make it more of a venue and studio space for musicians. 

Kari Bedford

Today we have an interview with local indie-folk singer/song-writer Ben Bedford - he stopped by the studio to chat and share music from his up-coming album, called The Pilot and the Flying Machine. (Ben has a Kickstarter to help fund the album. It only has a few days left, and it's a way you can ensure you get a copy while also ensuring the album gets made.)

Rachel Otwell

As the March 15th primary draws closer -- presidential candidates and their campaigns are making visits to the state. But one candidate stopped by last week who you may not know as much about. Her name is Jill Stein, and she's once again running for president, representing the Green Party

Felicia Olin

This week we couldn't even get to all the events we're interested in this weekend (and beyond) - but we did our best. We also got to know more about the artist Felicia Olin, she joined us to chat about the Rebirth art show at The Pharmacy over the weekend. Chances are you've seen her work at a local establishment or seen her profiled in local media (like here.) Time to tune in!

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