NPR Illinois Podcast Academy

Credit Carter Staley / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

Click here for more information about Podcast Academy!

Ways to Connect

Being community-minded comes fairly easily for Bill Legge. He’s the executive director of the boys and girls club, and more recently, the owner of the local coffee shop, Grab A Java.

Karen Witter is a freelance writer for the Illinois Times and the former President of the Rotary Club.

 She moved to Springfield from Morton, IL, and attended Springfield High School.

The Biology and Botany teachers there inspired her to get a degree in biological sciences.

Shawna Harris is the supervisor of St. John’s Breadline in Springfield, Illinois. Her organization provided over two hundred thousand nutritious meals each year to those who are struggling with hunger within our community. Friends, neighbors, and those facing difficult circumstances depend on St. John’s Breadline to provide a warm meal without shame or stigma. 


Harris also has many dreams and ideas for the Breadline. She is hoping that she can achieve all of them even if she doesn’t have the money. 


WATCH & LISTEN: A Local Woman's Fight for Diversity

Jul 26, 2019

Raychel Yokem is the human resource business partner at Horace Mann. Her job includes working with the executives in making decisions to help them make their goals. 


University of Illinois Springfield graduate Kayla Ross traveled back to central Illinois as the new 2019 Miss Black Illinois.

Ross’ watched pageants since she was little and she wanted to participate.

Derek Leonard is the football coach for Rochester High School and has won seven state championships in eight years.


The media landscape in the Springfield area is highly competitive, and traditional media such as print and broadcast have faced major challenges in the past few years. Kevin O’Dea, General Manager at Neuhoff Media, has witnessed these changes and challenges first hand.

Earlier this month, there was a series of earthquakes that struck California, but there are also ones that tend to hit closer to home. 

The closest fault to us is New Madrid. Samantha Reif is a geology professor at Lincoln Land Community College.

The Illinois Symphony Orchestra is an institution based on inspiring audiences with live orchestral music. A season in the orchestra takes a lot of effort from its donors, members, and 75 musicians. 


In 1986 the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois officially opened its doors as a way for family members to stay close to their children in the hospital. Program Director Katie Alsup explained how she first got involved with the charity house. 

Michelle Tjelmeland founded the District 23 Boutique and the Cochlear Implant Awareness Foundation (CIAF). The Foundation helps spread awareness about hearing loss and the use of cochlear implants.

Dr. Larry Golden is a founding member and Director of the Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois Springfield, and current Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Legal Studies at UIS. Dr Golden was recently awarded the 2019 U of I Distinguished Service award for his political activism and work with the Illinois Innocence Project.


His passion for political science and social activism began during his years in undergrad at the University of New Hampshire. He was involved in numerous student protests and socio-political movements.


Last year, Chenoa Alamu, a talented violinist from the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, started a podcast called Black, White, and in Color, to speak about social issues, spirituality, and relationships. I had the opportunity to sit down and have a conversation with her about why she chooses to be vocal about what she is passionate about. 

Staley Museum: Touchstone of Decatur

Jun 28, 2019
Josh Gujjarlapudi interviewing Julie Staley
Chloe Bellot / NPR Illnois

Hello, I’m Josh Gujjarlapudi for NPR Illinois Podcamp 2019.

The name Staley is well-known throughout Decatur and the state of Illinois. A.E. Staley was a prominent businessman and the first owner of the Chicago bears Julie Staley, the wife of Mr. Staley's great-grandson, is the president of the Staley Museum.

Evan Klein interviewing Jolene Vollmer
Chloe Bellot / NPR Illinois

Hello I’M Evan Klein  for the 2019 NPR Illinois PodCamp.

It’s exciting to have students from other countries on the local college campus. They add different perspectives in the classroom and bring different traditions to student life. Jolene Vollmer works with international students every day as the immigration specialist.

The Woman Behind the Kidzeum: Leah Wilson

Jun 28, 2019
Manu Mamillapalli and Leah Wilson
Chloe Bellot / NPR Illinois

Hello, I’m Manu Mamillapalli for NPR Illinois Podcamp 

You might have heard of the Kidzeum in downtown Springfield, but you might not know what goes on behind the scenes of the whole operation. I had a chance to interview Leah Wilson, the Executive Director of the Kidzeum.

Madelyn Moore interviewing James Bengfort
Chloe Bellot / NPR Illinois

Hello, I am Madelyn Moore for the 2019 Illinois Podcamp. 

The world of journalism is constantly changing, and is extremely competitive. Even within the Springfield area, there are numerous outlets competing for people’s attention. The Illinois Times has carved out a distinct place within that landscape. I had a chance to talk with the Associate Publisher of the Illinois Times and Springfield Business Journal, James Bengfort. James got a degree in marketing which he uses in his work as publisher. He loved the capital city and searched for an opportunity to return after working for the Oklahoma Gazette.

The Report on Reporters

Jun 28, 2019
Colin Curry interviewing Daisy Contreras
Chloe Bellot / NPR Illinois

For NPR Illinois podcamp, I’m Colin Curry.

Sometimes it takes a while to find out exactly what you want to do in your life. That was the case for NPR Illinois reporter Daisy Contreras.

Gabriel Villegas interviewing Larry Eaton
Chloe Bellot / NPR llinois

For NPR Illinois Podcamp, I’m Gabriel Villegas and this is a story about fire safety.

That’s certainly not something you want to hear on a normal day!


Journalist, Teacher, And Editor: Scott Faingold Does All 3.

Jun 28, 2019
Alexander Shapinsky interviewing Scott Faingold
Chloe Bellot / NPR Illinois

Hi, I’m Alexander Shapinsky from NPR Illinois Podcamp. Scott Faingold is the new Student Media Director at UIS, and the Editor in Chief of the Activator magazine in Springfield, IL.

The Ever Changing Job: Working in PR at UIS.

Jun 28, 2019
Max Alessia interviewing Blake Wood
Chloe Bellot / NPR Illinois

For NPR Illinois podcamp I’m Max Alessia.

Have you ever wanted to play around with pictures and videos for a job? Because Blake Wood does just that.

Jordan Johnson interviewing Molly Hall
Chloe Bellot / NPR Illinois

Today I am talking to Molly Hall about her first job, how she became the Executive of the Energy Education Council, or the EEC.

A.J. Vollmer interviewing Mike Suhadolnik
Chloe Bellot / NPR Illinois

Hello I’m A.J. Vollmer, for NPR Illinois Podcamp.

Mike Suhadolnik is a Springfield CrossFit coach who wrote the book “I Knew We Had a Cure,” and he is doing so at 75 years old. Mike inspired many people with chronic diseases to eat healthy and exercise.

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PodCamp and Podcast Academy 2019

Click to register for NPR Illinois for NPR Illinois Podcast Academy

NPR Illinois is hosting two podcast programs in summer 2019, one aimed at middle school students and the other at high school students. These two programs are uniquely designed by NPR Illinois and Ann Strahle, associate professor in communication at UIS. Ann and NPR Illinois staff members will instruct the programs with support from college students and other public media professionals.

Sandro Garcia interviews Isaac Edwards.
Katie Buck / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

Hello, I’m Sandro Garcia for the 2018 NPR Illinois PodCamp. While most musicians aim to be local stars, Springfield, Illinois resident, Isaac Edwards, has other goals. He does not really want to pursue fame, but wants to teach other people. 

Rohan Interviews Courtney Wick
Katie Buck / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

Hello, I am Rohan Ramkumar for the NPR Illinois PodCamp.

Courtney Wick is a licensed professional counselor and art therapist at the Hope Institute. She’s also a local writer, artist, and performer in plays such as “Legally Blonde”. She is also currently the board president for the Springfield Area Arts Council and volunteers at lots of places such as the Animal Protective League and The Big Brother Big Sister foundation.

Caleb Shuff and Justin Blandford pose
Katie Buck / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

Hello, I’m Caleb Shuff for the 2018 NPR Illinois PodCamp.

Justin Blandford, is a superintendent and curator of the Illinois Governor’s Mansion, and lives in Springfield, Illinois. 

PodCamp: Judge Shares His Journey to the Bench

Jul 19, 2018
Nathaniel Hostetter with Brian Otwell.
Katie Buck / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

Hello I’m Nathaniel Hostetter for the 2018 NPR Illinois PodCamp.

Brian Ottwel is an Associate Judge for the seventh Judicial Court of Illinois for eight years.

Katie Buck / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

Hello, I’m Riley Brown for the NPR Illinois Podcamp.

Scott Richardson is the Executive Director and owner of the Legacy Theatre in Springfield.

Katie Buck / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

Hello, I’m Arnav Nagrecha for the 2018 NPR Illinois PodCamp.

John Wright is the director of the Henson Robinson Zoo. He is a graduate of Truman State University and has worked at various zoos and aquariums as a zookeeper, lead keeper, and general curator.