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

Bradley University Theatre

This week, we're talking with Susan Felder, who's directing Bradley University Theatre's production of "The Mountaintop." The play, by Katori Hall, depicts an invented interaction between Dr. Martin Luther King and a hotel maid, in the hours before King's assassination. Felder talks about the play's "warts-and-all" look at King, and the realities of race in 1960s America. She also talks about the two actors featured in the production, and working with them to create performances that worth both as history, and as drama.

Peoria Symphony Orchestra

George Stelluto, Music Director of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra, joins us to talk about the upcoming performance by Quartetto Gelato. The ensemble is known for its musical range--Saturday night's concert will evoke classical music, jazz and Edith Piaf. It begins at 8:00 at the Peoria Civic Center Theatre. Stelutto also talks about cellist Michael Block, who has been making appearances and giving performances around the Peoria area this past week.

Corn Stock Theatre

Corn Stock Theatre's upcoming production, "Humanity Stew," is a collection of short plays by local author Hale Garrison. It offers a biting, sometimes ludicrous, but often sympathetic, look at relationships, politics and celebrity. We talk with Garrison about his writing process. We also talk with director Victoria Rians about bringing the works to life on the Corn Stock stage. "Humanity Stew" runs February 13th to 22nd at the Corn Stock Winter Playhouse.

Chip Joyce joins us this week to talk about Peoria Players Theatre's upcoming production of "Cabaret." He tells us this show has been on his "bucket list" for several years. He also talks about how the show has been updated and revised over the years. The Peoria Players production is based on the 1990s Broadway revival; it's a little darker than earlier versions, and uses cast members to supplement the orchestra. "Cabaret" runs February 6-15 at Peoria Players Theatre.

Corn Stock Theatre

Corn Stock Theatre’s production of 2015 is “Other Desert Cities,” a 2011 family drama written by Jon Robin Baitz. 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.

Barry Cloyd

This week, we're talking with Barry Cloyd. He's getting ready to release his tenth CD, "Southland." He talks about the process tha goes into putting a new album together -- this was was recorded both in Peoria, and in Nashville. He also talks about his songwriting process, and previews a couple of songs from the new CD. "Southland" will be released on Friday, February 13th, with a release party and concert at the Forest Park Nature Center.

The Penguin Project

Andrew Morgan is the director of The Penguin Project, which allows children with special needs the chance to participate in the performing arts. Their next production -- "Seussical, Jr." -- will be presented January 23rd-25th at Eastlight Theatre. He talks about the mission of the organization, how they differ from other areas theatres, and about some of the performers in this year's production.

Heartland Festival Orchestra

We talk with David Commanday, Artistic Director of the Heartland Festival Orchestra about their upcoming concert, "New Year's Greeting." The concert features Strauss waltzes, along with music from Broadway and Hollywood. Commanday talks about the evolution of the orchestra's annual new year's concert, about the soloists Joan Hess and Kirby Ward, and about the non-profit the orchestra is featuring in this concert.

The price of a gallon of Regular-grade gasoline is now below the 2-dollar mark at many gas stations in downstate Illinois.

Analyst Patrick DeHaan, with the gas-price-tracking website GasBuddy.com, thinks those prices may be within five or ten cents of bottoming out. He says gasoline prices should start rising in January or February, when oil refineries cut back production for seasonal maintenance and retooling. But DeHaan predicts gas prices in 2015 will stay lower overall than the year before.

Joseph Henry has returned as conductor of the Peoria Area Civic Chorale. This weekend, he leads them in their annual concert, "An American Family Christmas." He talks about the process of creating the right mix of material for each year's program, which this year includes a new setting of the text "O magnum mysterium" by composer Frank LaRocca. We also talk about the history of PACC's annual holiday concert. Performances are tonight, tomorrow night and Sunday afternoon at Five Points Washington.

This week, we're talking with Mary Dexter, founder of the TazWood Dance Company, which is presenting its final performance this weekend, after a 32-year run. "One Last Time" features some routines drawn from the company's past performances, and new pieces. It also includes archival video, and the return of the some of the company's alumni. Dexter talks about the early days of TazWood Dance , and reflects on bringing the curtain down on the company. "One Last Time" will be performed Saturday night at 7:30 at the ICC Performing Arts Center in East Peoria.

Peoria Players Theatre presents “The Sound of Music” as it final production in 2014. 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.

This week, we're talking with actor Doug Day. This weekend, he'll present a reading of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." He talks about editing the well-known holiday story down to a manageable lengthy, about using both the text and his voice to help distinguish the many characters in the story. He also gives us a sample of what's in store. The performance is Sunday afternoon at 3:00 at the GAR Hall in downtown Peoria.

This week, we're talking with Susan Hoffman and Marcia Henry Liebenow, from the Peoria Symphony Orchestra. Their next concert features three works inspired by the natural world, by Ralph Vaughan Williams, John WIlliams and Jean Sibelius. It also includes two of the PSO's own musicians as soloists. The performance is Saturday night at 8:00 at the Peoria Civic Center Theatre.

Bradley University Theatre

This week, we're talking with Danielle Dyksterhouse. The fifth-year senior at Bradley University is directing their mainstage production of "Proof." The four-person play explores themes of family, identity, and mental illness. Dyksterhouse talks about what drew her to the play,, about working with her actors, and about how she prepared for her role as director. "Proof" continues through Sunday, Novemebr 23rd, at the Hartman Center Theatre at Bradley University.

This week, we're talking with Jeff Embry, operator of Studio 825, at 825 SW Adams Street in Peoria's Warehouse District. The studio is celebrating its third anniversary Friday night with an open house. Embry talks about what he hoped to accomplish by opening a studio that includes multiple artists representing an array of media, and about how his ambitions dovetailed with the city's plans for the Warehouse District. The event is being held in conjunction with CIAO's "First Fridays" studio tours, being held at various locations in Peoria tonight.

Cornerstone Academy for Performing Arts

This week, we're talking with Rebekah von Rathonyi, Artistic Director of the Cornerstone Academy for Performing Arts. They're presenting "Dracula: Dance on the Dark Side," Friday night at 7:30 at the ICC Performing Arts Center in East Peoria. It's the first time the work has been presented in the Peoria area since 2004.

This week, we're talking with David Commanday, Artistic Director of the Heartland Festival Orchestra. Their next season features an all-Beethoven program, including the composer's Sixth Symphony and Triple Concerto for piano, violin and cello. Commanday talks about how the Sixth Symphony compares to its counterparts, and about finding the right team of soloists to perform the Triple Concerto. The concert is Saturday night at 7:30 at Five Points Washington.

David Mamet’s play “November” offers a blistering satire of American politics, in its depiction of a U-S President. Marty Lynch reviews a production, now on stage 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.

Peoria Symphony Orchestra

George Stelluto, Music Director of the Peoria Symphony, joins us this week to talk about the orchestra's next concert. It features three works inspired by the play, "Romeo and Juliet." Stelluto contrasts the three works -- by Tchaikovsky, Berlioz and Rachmaninoff -- and talks about incorporating sections of Shakespeare's play into the concert. He also talks about another upcoming PSO event -- they're presenting a concert by Lyle Lovett, on October 26th.

Corn Stock Theatre

This week, we're talking with Christine St. John. The Peoria native is in town this week, with a premiere of her one-woman show, "Bette Davis: On the Edge." She plays Davis at a turning point in her career, waiting on the reviews for her film "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" St.

Peoria Players Theatre

This week, we're talking with Nate Downs. He's playing Oscar Madison in "The Odd Couple." The production opens tonight at Peoria Players Theatre. This will be the Downs' fourth time Downs has done the show, and the third time he's played Oscar. He talks about how the themes of the play, and Neil Simon's sharp dialogue, make the work timeless. He also talks about the relationship between Oscar and Felix, and about how the other characters in the play contribute to the experience.

Corn Stock Theatre

The Corn Stock Winter Playhouse opens its new season with a production of “Bare: The musical.” Douglas Okey [OAK-ee] has this review, for Peoria Public Radio and the Live Theatre League. Opinions expressed are those of the reviewer, not those of Peoria Public Radio or the Live Theatre League.

Crossing Borders Music Collective

This week, we're talking with John Jost, from the Bradley University Music Department. They're presenting the Crossing Borders Music Collective, with a program of Haitian music. John Jost talks about his own connection to Haiti, about some of the works on the program, and about the role classical music plays in Haiti. The concert is tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Dingeldine Music Center.

This week, we talk with George Stelluto, conductor of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra. Their new season opens with a concert Saturday night, featuring music by Johannes Brahms and Antonin Dvorak and a guest appearance by violinist Sarah Chang. He talks about the two pieces on the program, the relationship between the two composers, and some highlights of the coming season.

The Brazillionaires

This week we're talking with guitarist & singer Rico Johnson of The Brazilionaires to discuss their upcoming Friday night show at the Contemporary Art Center in Peoria as part of the "Live at the Five Spot" concert series. Tonight's concert is from 5:30 to 7:30 P.M.  at the C.A.C., located along Water Street in downtown Peoria.

Heartland Festival Orchestra

This wee, we're talking with the Heartland Festival Orchestra's David Commanday. Their new season opens with a concert Saturday night at 7:30 at Five Points Washington. It features an appearance by guitarist Jason Vieaux, and Spanish-tinged works by Rodrigo, Arriaga and Chabrier. Commanday talks about some of the pieces on the program, and about finally finding the opportunity to bring Vieaux to central Illinois for a performance.

This week, we're tslking with Steve Bortolotti, He's directing Peoria Players Theatre's 10th anniversary production of "Ragtime." He also directed the earlier production. He talks about what drew him to the show, which is based on a historical novel by E. L. Doctorow, and about why he was so eager to stage it again. "Ragtime" runs September 5th through 14th at Peoria Players Theatre.

Corn Stock Theatre closes its summer season with a production of “Monty Python’s Spamalot.” Marty Lynch 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.

School is back in session, but summer is still going strong at Corn Stock Theatre, where Monty Python’s Spamalot, the summer season’s last show opened last Friday.

This week, we're talking with John Martin, from the St. Patrick's Society of Peoria. He's co-chair of this year's Erin Feis, the annual Irish festival which runs today through Sunday on the Peoria Riverfront. He talks about the many musical groups who will be performing during the festival, and about the process of booking and scheduling them. He also talks about some of the craft vendors who will have works for sale, and events at the festival's cultural village.

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