Sam Dunklau

Reporter

Sam is a general assignment reporter.  Previously, Sam was a Public Affairs Reporting intern for spring 2018, working at the NPR Illinois Statehouse bureau.

Since 2015, he's been floating around the radio airwaves as a reporter, disc jockey, and station manager.  A multimedia journalism degree from Augustana College now rests comfortably under his belt. 

Ways to Connect

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Illinois leaders are calling for more retired healthcare workers to return to the profession to help the state combat the new coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, millions more dollars are being pumped into social service programs designed to help those in need.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads and the number of confirmed cases and deaths in Illinois increases, the state faces a growing medical, social, and economic crisis.  Governor J.B. Pritzker is urging people to abide by his "Stay at Home" order and calling on the federal government for more help.

Painting by Laura Gomel, used with permission / https://www.artbylauragomel.com/

Artists throughout Illinois have been hit particularly hard by the social distancing effects of the coronavirus pandemic. For many, their primary source of income has dried up as gigs and events have been canceled.

For this week’s Illinois Issues report, I gathered stories of their struggles and their solutions for keeping creativity alive during a global pandemic.  

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Illinois health officials announced a surge of new COVID-19 cases Wednesday. The state’s Department of Public Health has confirmed 128 new cases across 17 counties, bringing the total to 288.

Mike Smith / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

As widespread disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic continues around the country, Illinois retailers are asking residents not to buy more supplies than they need.

Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

Memorial Health System opened a drive through respiratory screening clinic in Springfield Monday. It’s part of an effort to reduce any COVID-19-related stress on local emergency rooms.

Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

Illinois' U.S. Senator, Dick Durbin, said the Senate will vote soon on the latest deal to address a nationwide outbreak of COVID-19.

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Legalized sports betting has officially launched in Illinois. This week, a casino in suburban Chicago opened the state’s first place for gamblers to legally bet on professional sports games. But rolling out Illinois’ sports books has been a slow-going process, and uncertainty remains about how much revenue the practice will end up generating for an already cash-strapped state. For this week’s Illinois Issues report, I explored what’s happening in the wide world of Illinois sports wagering.


Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

Tomorrow will be the first day Illinois residents can start filling out the 2020 U.S. Census form online. State officials said remote technology will help with the count amid concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

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Electricity and environmental advocates offered their pitches to Illinois state senators this week on how to reduce a portion of the state’s carbon emissions. But each group has different ideas about how to do it.

Drive down any U.S. interstate and there's a good chance you will see a pun or a funny reference on the next electronic message board you spot. Such messages have become ubiquitous across the country lately.

But besides getting a snicker, what's behind these roadside bits, and are they making drivers behave differently?

via Illinois Central Management Services IOCI

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritkzer and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot tried to calm fears over the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak on Friday. They said efforts are already underway to minimize Illinois’ exposure to the disease also known as novel coronavirus.

Dave Dahl / WTAX News

A group of Illinois House lawmakers this week began considering whether one of their colleagues is qualified to serve in the General Assembly. It’s a rare process — and part of the continuing fallout from a federal corruption investigation.

Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

In a call for unity during his annual budget address, Governor J.B. Pritzker called out lawmakers who have suggested severing Chicago from the rest of Illinois. It got a standing ovation, but not everyone was clapping.

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Journalist, author and Illinois native Nina Burleigh has chased stories in almost every state in the country and across six continents over the last few decades.

The University of Illinois Springfield, where Burleigh began her career as a graduate of its Public Affairs Reporting program, is honoring her work with an Alumni Achievement Award.

She sat down with NPR Illinois’ Sam Dunklau to reflect on a career spent covering, teaching and advocating for the news.


Brian Mackey, Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he is forgiving the remaining prison sentence of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. That move has received bipartisan criticism.

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State lawmakers and public health advocates want to make it more convenient for Illinoisans to get rid of their unwanted medicine.


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Two professional basketball players said it's only fair to allow college athletes to seek sponsorships and other lucrative deals if colleges and universities are profiting at the same time.

IIN document via Office of Governor J.B. Pritzker

State government has set aside $15 million for a new university building in downtown Springfield.

Illinois Supreme Court Communications Office

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Robert Thomas is retiring from the bench after nearly 20 years. The judge, who has led careers in both law and athletics, plans to practice privately at a personal injury firm in Chicago.

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A group of Illinois House Republicans heavily criticized the lack of work from a statewide task force on property taxes.


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More Illinois students now qualify for college financial aid. State government will now offer money to students who might have been disqualified from getting federal help.


Salty Cracka via Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Recreational cannabis has been legal in Illinois for just under a week, and the state estimates consumers have already bought nearly $11 million worth of product. But the legal industry is only just getting started.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Marijuana sales began with more than $3 million in sales on New Year’s Day. Backers of the law, however, say that news ought to take a back seat to the more than 11,000 pardons for past pot convictions Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a day earlier.

Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

Illinois’ recreational cannabis dispensaries made around $3.2 million in sales on New Year’s Day, according to early estimates from a state agency overseeing the now-legal industry.

Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

The more than 255 new Illinois laws taking effect on New Year's Day may affect everything from your car to your paycheck.

We took a look at some of the biggest changes coming in 2020.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Legal marijuana is coming January 1 — what will that look like in Illinois? Will there be enough supply to meet demand? And what will happen to the black market?

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Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker approved a plan Wednesday to pool the pension funds of nearly 650 downstate police and fire departments.


via Illinois Central Management Services IOCI

Illinois’ Attorney General is suing e-cigarette maker JUUL Labs, alleging the company intentionally hooked teens on vaping.


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Illinois' Department of Agriculture published its bi-annual study that looked at how to improve water quality by cutting down on pollutants that runoff into streams and rivers. Runoff has been on the rise lately, and officials say reducing it involves more than just farmers.

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