Sean Crawford

Director of Editorial / COMMUNITY ADVISORY BOARD, EX-OFFICIO

Chatham

Sean has led the NPR Illinois news operations since the fall of 2009. He replaced the only other person to do so in the station's history, Rich Bradley. Prior to taking over the News Department, Sean worked as Statehouse Bureau Chief for NPR Illinois and other Illinois Public Radio stations. He spent more than a dozen years on the capitol beat.

Sean  began his broadcasting career at his hometown station in Herrin, Illinois while still in high school.  It was there he learned to cover local government, courts and anything else that made the news.  He spent time in the Joliet area as News Director and Operations Manager for a radio station and worked for a chain of weekly newspapers for two years.  Along with news coverage, he reported heavily on sports and did on-air play by play. 

Sean holds a Master's Degree in Public Affairs Reporting from the University of Illinois Springfield. 

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

More fallout from the “rape in Champaign” email: Ag Director John Sullivan is out.

As he marked a year in office, Gov. J.B. Pritzker talked with Brian Mackey about several issues facing the state, including his thoughts on marijuana.  

The minimum wage hike that just happened in Illinois also meant a pay boost for those under 18, but they will continue to be paid less than other minimum wage earners.  We have a report.

And Western Illinois University has struggled with enrollment, leading to financial problems.  But the interim President says he believes the dark clouds are lifting.  

That and more on this episode of Statewide.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This week, WBEZ Chicago reported on a 2012 email in which then-lobbyist Mike McClain priased a former state worker for having “kept his mouth shut on ... the rape in Champaign,” among other things.

Illinois lawmakers did away with a requirement in 2019 that could have a big impact on those who want to be teachers.  We'll hear from one woman who says it has changed her life. 

With college debt skyrocketing, more high schools see the need to teach personal finance to students.  We'll visit one of those classrooms. 

And not many towns have a poet laureate.  We bring you a report from Aurora, a community that just named its first person to hold that title.  That and more on this week's Statewide.

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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.

On last week's episode, we looked back at some of the stories we covered in 2019.  But with the new year upon us, we thought it would be a good time to look forward.  We discuss some of the issues you'll be hearing more about this year.

DNA test kit
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Starting with the new year, Illinois will expand privacy protections for people who use genetic testing kits. 

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

It would be difficult to overstate how consequential the past year was in Illinois government and politics. This week on State Week, the panel looks back at some of the top stories of 2019.

On our final episode of the year, we remember some of the top reports and conversations from 2019.   

On this show we tried to give an example of the type of journalism we bring you each week: coverage of public affairs, examining problems and solutions, inspirational stories and the voices that make up the state we call home.  

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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?

Victims of domestic violence are told to seek help.  But what happens when a child is violent toward parents?  A central Illinois couple says there's not enough support available.  We'll have a report.

We also hear about special education students being shipped out of state.  There are questions about the schools where they are kept at taxpayer expense.

And we hear how some people handle a holiday tradition: the political argument among family members. 

That and more on this week's Statewide.

Travel during the holidays can be stressful.  It can be even more so with a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease in tow.

But the Alzheimer’s Association has some suggestions to make things go smoother and make sure all of the family can participate in activities. 

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx personally filed paperwork that led to vacating and expunging the marijuana convictions of more than 1,000 people.

This episode looks ahead to the new recreational marijuana law that will take effect the first of the year.  You might have questions and we will try to provide answers.  We'll also hear how marijuana growers are working to meet the expected demand.

A new biography tells the story of Lane Evans, the late Illinois congressman from the Quad Cities.  Evans died in 2014 from complications related to Parkinson's Disease.

And racism in a suburban school district has led to a concerted effort to rebuild trust.

That and more on the latest Statewide.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot abruptly sacked CPD Chief Eddie Johnson this week, accusing the department veteran of lying to her over the details of an incident in which he was found slumped over the steering wheel of his government vehicle. Johnson denies wrongdoing.

On this episode of Statewide, we learn why some colleges say there is too much emphasis on standardized tests in the admissions process.  There is a growing movement to drop the requirement or place less of a priority on scores. 

Is an historic home a good fit for you?  Many are bypassing newly built houses for ones that have more character.  But they can be a lot of work.  We'll find out more. 

And a new proposal threatens to end minor league baseball in some Midwest communities.   These stories and more on Statewide.   

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Bringing a university presence to the downtown area has been under discussion for years.  But the latest concept dwarfs what has been on the drawing board previously. 

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

For our Thanksgiving-week episode, we take a step back from the day-to-day workings of state government to go deep on the federal investigation swirling around one of Illinois' most powerful people.

Many Illinois colleges and universities are struggling to attract and keep students.  The problem, along with what some are doing about it, is outlined in the Illinois public radio series Enrollment Exodus. 

On this episode of Statewide, we re-cap the series from earlier this year and hear from journalists throughout Illinois.  

This week's lineup:

* Sean Crawford talks with Jenna Dooley of WNIJ, who served as coordinator for the series.  She gives an overview of the problem and what the reporting uncovered.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This week ProPublica Illinois and the Chicago Tribune collaborated on a story that revealed the extent to which Illinois schools are using "seclusion rooms" — essentially solitary confinement — to handle children who cause trouble, mostly in special education classes.

As recreational marijuana is set to become legal in Illinois January 1, some parents are worried it sends the wrong message to kids.   We'll hear from experts and young people about ways for parents to have a dialogue on the subject.

Not that long ago, southern Illinois was known as a place where geese would spend the winter during colder weather.  But recently, that trek to the area has stopped.   We'll hear some of the reasons why.

And, a reporter shares her personal account of adoption and the risk she took to reach out to her biological family.

That and more on this episode of Statewide.

This week, we hear about a community once known as a "sundown town" because African Americans were warned to be out of the city limits by nightfall.  It can be difficult for towns to shake that history.  We hear from a reporter who spent time in one to see if things have improved today. 

A northern Illinois man shares his story of getting to know German POW's who were kept in the state during World War II.  

And we learn about a camp for kids with type 1 diabetes.  That and more on this episode of Statewide.

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This week marks 30 years since the Berlin Wall came down.  In Illinois, there are two locations where pieces of the wall are on public display.  

You can see a chunk of the wall at a Chicago CTA station.  Or in a more relaxed setting in a peace garden at Eureka College in Woodford County.  The college is the alma mater of President Ronald Reagan, who gave the famous directive to Soviet Leader Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

More than 2,000 state employees report to work at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago's Loop.  But the building, constructed in the early 1980's, has a host of problems.  Repairs will be costly.  The State of Illinois is moving forward in an effort to sell the facility, which some say is an architectural gem.  We look at the pros and cons of the Thompson Center on this epsiode. 

Also, the tragic story of young women who suffered radiation poisoning working at an Illinois factory. That and more on Statewide.

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Brian Mackey

As the fall veto session continues, the Stathouse has been rocked by a federal charge of bribery against Democratic state representative Luis Arroyo and his subsequent resignation.  Meanwhile, the end of the Chicago teachers’ strike is allowing Mayor Lori Lightfoot to focus more on her agenda for fixing the city’s budget problems.

WTTW Chicago Public Television's Amanda Vinicky joins the panel.

This week, we hear how the legal system can have a disproportionate impact on low income individuals.  Fines and fees can pile up and experts say that can keep people in a cycle of poverty.  We'll learn what other states are doing to improve the situation.

East St. Louis has a rich cultural history, but even many of its residents are unaware.  A new effort is underway to show the town's contributions.

And speaking of history, Illinois has plenty to brag about when it comes to homegrown musical artists.  We'll learn about plans for the Rock and Roll Museum on Route 66.

That and more on this episode of Statewide.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot proposed a budget this week. The city's path to greater financial health runs through Springfield, but will the General Assembly come through?

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It could soon cost money to see some of the most popular sites in the Shawnee National Forest.  

We sit down with a woman who spent years in prison for the murder of her 3-year old son.  She was later exonerated.  But in our conversation with Kristine Bunch, she talks about her time behind bars, her struggle with forgiveness and why returning to her friends and family has been challenging.   

The amazing scenery of the Shawnee National Forest makes it a tourist destination.  But some of its most popular sites might soon begin charging admission.  We find out what's behind the change. 

That and more on this episode of Statewide. 

This week on Statewide, the new Illinois law that will make recreational marijuana legal will create a need for people to work in the industry.  We'll explain how some are getting training through a college program. 

We'll go to Stateville Correctional Center to learn about inmates making the best of their situation.  

And the kudzu vine is a scourge in the southern U.S.  Now, it's showing up here in Illinois.  But there are  individuals who are finding uses for the invasive plant. 

That and more on this episode.

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