Nathan Irwin

Program Director

Nathan Irwin has been WCBU’ s Program Director since 2001. Prior to that, he was a talk-show producer and announcer for New Hampshire Public Radio. His first radio job was KFJM-FM in Grand Forks, North Dakota. He grew up in upstate New York, Wisconsin and Karachi, Pakistan. He graduated from the University of North Dakota with a degree in political science.

Outside the studios, Nathan spends most of his time as an actor and singer. He has performed with Corn Stock Theatre, Peoria Players and the Bradley Community Chorus.

Ways To Connect

Corn Stock Theatre closes its summer season with the regional premiere of “The Color Purple.” It’s a musical adaptation of the best-selling novel. Stan Strickler has this review of a production at Corn Stock Theatre, for Peoria Public Radio and the Live Theatre League of Peoria.

Opinions expressed are those of the reviewer, not those of Peoria Public Radio or the Live Theatre League.

There are several beautiful pieces at the Contemporary Art Center. First we hear about Got Jazz, Fiber Artists Coalition, and  we learn about sculpture by Barbara Cooper. Both can be seen at the Contemporary Art Center September through October.

Corn Stock Theatre

This week, we talk Molly Burroughs and Sharon Reed, the co-directors of the musical "The Color Purple" at Corn Stock Theatre. The musical is an adaptation of the novel and motion picture. They talk about why they chose this production in particular, and what they saw in its story and its music. The show features an entirely African-American cast and a racially diverse crew - things they think are important in local community theatre.

This week’s Hidden Treasures takes us to the Foster Art Gallery at the First United Methodist Church.  Here we will find works by Sherri Burritt & Florence Gaffney.  Then traveling to the Heuser Gallery we find Painting by Michiko Itatani.

Fogelberg Foundation of Peoria

This week, we're talking about the 6th Annual Dan Fogelberg Celebration Weekend, with Hugh Higgins. The event grew out of a beneift concert, organized to pay for a memorial to Fogelberg on the Peoria Riverfront. It's grown into an annual event that attracts "Dan Fans" from around the world. The highlight of the event is a tribute concert, taking place Friday night at the Gateway Building. Other activities continue through Sunday. We also talk about some of the charitable work supported by the proceeds from the celebration weekend.

Lizz Barnes / Ear in the Envelope

This week, we're talking with Lizz Barnes, from Ear in the Envelope Studios in Peoria. She's one of the artists participating in Ignite! Peoria on Saturday. Attendees will be able to visit her table in the Creation Station and try their hand at metal-stamping. She talks about the history behind her studio, which has become a venue for showcasing local artists and performers. She talks about last year's Ignite event, and its importance to local artists and creators.

This week, we're talking about Corn Stock Theatre's production of "Grease" with director Rachel Wooden, and with David Brown, who plays Danny Zuko in the show. This is the first time CST has staged the well-known musical. We talk about what made this the right time to present it, how this version of the show differs from the versions often performed by schools (and the well-known movie adaptation), and about why the stories of 1950s teenagers still have resonance today.

This week, we're talking with Bob Streitmatter, manager of the Luthy Botanical Garden. They're hosting their annual "Rhapsody in Bloom" art festival on August 1st and 2nd. The events features local artists exhibiting their work, live music and food, all in the setting of the venue's outdoor gardens. Streitmatter talks about the origin of the event, and some of the plants in the Garden's collection.

We're talking with Kaci Osborne and Megan Pedigo about Ignite! Peoria. The event returns to the Peoria Civic Center on Saturday, August 8th. The event features individual artists, a Creation Station, fashion and a car show. We talk about some of the elements that will be new for this year's event, and about what the organizers want it to achieve - both for the artists and for the Peoria community.

Set in the early 1900s, “The Secret Garden” tells the story of an orphaned girl, sent to live with her widowed uncle in England. A production at Corn Stock Theatre features Broadway actor and Peoria native Bart Shatto. Stan Strickler has this review for Peoria Public Radio and the Live Theatre League of Peoria.

Opinions expressed are those of the reviewer, not those of Peoria Public Radio or the Live Theatre League.

Corn Stock Theatre

We're joined this week by Bart Shatto. The actor and Peoria native is back in town to appear as Archibald Craven in Corn Stock Theatre's production of "The Secret Garden." The show reunites him with director Pam Orear, who gave Shatto his first role back in the 1980s. Since then, Shatto has gone on to perform on Broadway, and with several national touring productions. "The Secret Garden" opens tonight, and runs through July 18th, at Corn Stock Theatre.

Peoria Public Radio

In the midst of a budget stalemate ... Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner says he's re-introducing his five-point agenda, with some changes.  The Republican is also putting out a new pension plan.

Put aside, just for a minute, Illinois' immediate fiscal problem of having no spending plan in place, and the chaos that could bring. The state still has the nation's biggest unfunded pension liability. Illinois’ Supreme Court tossed lawmakers' last plan for dealing with it.

Gov. Bruce Rauner says he'll soon introduce a new, 500 page proposal.

For the kid inside everyone, the Peoria Riverfront Museum welcomes 'Dinosaurs in Motion', a traveling interactive exhibition to the area on July 11th. Ann Schmidt talks about some of the 14 dinosaur sculptures that will be on display next week at the PRM. 

The superintendent of Illinois schools says the state should re-do how it funds school districts.

Critics of the plan have said a new formula would create so-called “winner” and “loser” districts - meaning schools may lose or gain state money based on the income of the area.

Superintendent Tony Smith today addressed that criticism on WBEZ’s Morning Shift.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Illinois for a year.

L-B-G-T advocates are celebrating today's Supreme Court ruling that says those unions must be recognized nationwide.

Bernard Cherkasov heads the advocacy group Equality Illinois. He says he remembers crying when other states passed laws banning the recognition of same-sex marriage.

"And so now to see this come full circle, and the Supreme Court recognize the constitutional right of gay and lesbian couples to marriage, it feels so great. I can't tell you just how happy I feel."

Peoria Symphony Orchestra

George Stelutto, Music Director of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra, talks about tonight's concert by the ensemble Quartetto Gelato. The quartet is known for its embrace of multiple musical genres -- classical, jazz, folk and world music. All of those influences will be on display in tonight's program. Stelutto talks about some of the works we can expect to hear, about the quartet's repertoire, and about the unique musical environment of Paris in in the early 20th century.

More than two thirds of Illinois residents who bought health insurance under the affordable care act will get to keep tax credits that cut the cost of their plans. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that these subsidies could be given out in states that did not build their own online marketplaces, known as exchanges. Illinois is among those states.  

Corn Stock Theatre

The relationships that form among five women in college form the basis of the play “The Dixie Swim Club.” Stan Strickler has this review of a production at Corn Stock Theatre, for Peoria Public Radio and the Live Theatre League of Peoria. Opinions expressed are those of the reviewer, not those of Peoria Public Radio or the Live Theatre League.

As Illinois' budget stalemate continues, Democrats continue to dispute whether the governor's office is spending too much on staff. Just how much Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration is costing taxpayers was supposed to be the subject of a hearing, called by House Revenue Chairman John Bradley.

"Is there anyone from the governor's office here to testify?"

Why the silence? No one from the governor's office showed. That's a breach of legislative decorum that's virtually unheard of.

Illinois state lawmakers have rejected a plan to give Chicago Public Schools a short-term reprieve from a big pension payment.

 

Chicago Public Schools has to ask Illinois lawmakers in Springfield for permission to delay paying 634 million dollars for teacher pensions. It’s due at the end of this month.

Jesse Ruiz is the interim head of Chicago Public Schools - and wanted to put the payment off for 40 days to find a “permanent solution.”

 

The Illinois House has approved a plan to partially privatizate Illinois' commerce agency.

It's one of Republican Governor Bruce Rauner's ideas for economic development. But the version sponsored by Democrats would only authorize the partnership for three years.

Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie says having a deadline helps ensure the new board's members aren't cooking the books for their own benefit.

Former Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is back home in Washington today for the first time in almost two years.

Jackson will serve the remaining three months of his federal prison sentence at home, followed by three years of supervised release.

The former South Side congressman was sent to prison in 2013 for spending campaign money on lavish personal items. Jackson spent about a year-and-a-half in an Alabama federal prison, and another three months in a Baltimore halfway house.

Remember last year's election? There was a non-binding referendum to raise the minimum wage in Illinois to $10 an hour. A majority of voters said they wanted it to happen.

But the General Assembly hasn't been able to get it done.

"I am planning on not allowing the minimum issue (to) fall by the wayside. It's a critical component to the development of the middle class."

Peoria Public Radio

The spending plan Democrats approved is broken into 20 different bills ... and most  have yet to be sent on to Governor Bruce Rauner.

That means Rauner is not yet able to sign them into law ... or reject them.

Senate President John Cullerton says Democrats held the bills back so Rauner would have time to think ... rather than veto them right away.

Republican Representative Eddie Sullivan, of Mundelein, says he's ready for Democrats to hurry things along.

Corn Stock Theatre

Lana Warner is the co-director of "The Dixie Swim Club" at Corn Stock Theatre. The play focuses on the lives of five women, former members of the same college swimming team, who reunite each summer. Warner talks about why she chose the show, about working her cast, and about what she thinks amkes this production special.

"The Dixie Swim Club" opens tonight, and continues through June 27th at Corn Stock Theatre in Peoria's Upper Bradley Park.

Some Illinois Republicans are defending incumbent U-S Senator Mark Kirk.

That’s after Kirk referred to Presidential hopeful Lindsey Graham as a “bro with no ho” - and added that’s something “we’d say on the South Side.”

Pat Brady is the former chairman of the Illinois Republican Party.

He says the comment isn’t likely to end Kirk’s candidacy for re-election because Kirk apologized.

Federal records show that Illinois television stations will begin to air ads Tuesday, paid for by Governor Bruce Rauner's political action committee. 

When the depths of the dispute between Republican Gov. Rauner and the General Assembly's Democratic leaders really became public at the end of last month, Senate President John Cullerton said the governor had warned a media blitz was on the way.

Central Illinois Jazz Society

This week, we're talking with Dick Marsho from the Central Illinois Jazz Society. They're co-sponsoring the River City Jazz Festival on the Peoria Riverfront, tomorrow from noon to 10:00 p.m. Marsho talks about some of the artists and bands featured in the event, which offers a range of jazz styles. He also talks about the Society's monthly events at the Landmark Recreation Center, which spotlight local jazz musicians; and about a series of Thursday-night jazz concerts, which run in July and August on the CEFCU Stage.

At a stop Wednesday in Decatur, Governor Bruce Rauner indicated he'd let the state go without a budget if Democratic leaders don't bend to his wishes ... and he’ll blame it on the Democrats too.

Last month, Democrats pushed through a budget that spends $4 billion more than the state has. Rauner says he won't sign it ... or talk revenue ... until his pro-business ideas are also passed. The governor says getting the five items on his agenda passed shouldn't be a big deal.

Residents of Illinois and Indiana can now talk to a doctor 24 hours a day, and seven days a week. This month, the Unity Point Health system began offering "Virtual Care" to anyone with a computer, tablet, or smart phone. 

One of the planners is Doctor Bill Chase, a family physician in Norwalk, Iowa. He says it's designed for people with relatively minor conditions such as colds, allergies, and rashes.

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