Rachel Otwell

217-206-6407

Read Rachel's "The Scene" blog.

Rachel's reports focus on the arts, community, and diverse culture. She produces WUIS' original program, Illinois Edition. She also hosts Art Beat, which airs on Fridays and features cultural happenings in the central Illinois region.

 She's a 2012 graduate of the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois Springfield. While working toward that degree she spent a session covering the state legislature for WUIS and Illinois Public Radio with a focus on fracking. Rachel also holds degrees from UIS in Liberal & Integrative Studies, Women & Gender Studies, and African-American Studies. She's tutored Rwandan refugees in Ohio, volunteered at a Kenyan orphanage,  served as an activities assistant at a nursing home, and volunteered at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand. 

Rachel started a career in public media in 2011 when she interned for the National Public Radio program Tell Me More with Michel Martin in Washington, DC. Her reports have also appeared on NPR's Weekend Edition, NPR's All Things Considered, NPR's Morning Edition, WorkingNow.org, and 51%.

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State News
5:00 am
Mon July 27, 2015

Illinois arts advocate condemns Governor's budget plans

Ra Joy, executive director of Arts Alliance Illinois
Credit artsalliance.org

Illinois advocates for the arts say Governor Bruce Rauner's plan for more budget cuts is bad policy. Since 2007, the budget for the Illinois Arts Council Agency has already been cut in half.  Under Rauner's guidance, it would drop another 20 percent, down to $8 million.Ra Joy heads an organization that represents hundreds of artists and cultural groups in the state.

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NPR Story
7:01 am
Thu July 23, 2015

Illinois Arts Advocacy Leader Condemns Governor's Plans

Ra Joy, executive director of Arts Alliance Illinois

Originally published on Wed July 22, 2015 4:12 pm

Ra Joy  heads Arts Alliance Illinois, an advocacy group that represents hundreds of cultural groups and artists in the state. He was at the capitol this week with about 500 hundred other rally-goers, urging Governor Bruce Rauner and lawmakers to keep the Illinois State Museum open. Gov. Rauner wants to close it, saying the estimated $5 million per year in savings is needed because of a state budget that's billions in the red. Joy says that move is short-sighted and "bone-headed."

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NPR Story
6:10 am
Fri July 10, 2015

How Has ACA Changed Access To Contraception In IL?

Originally published on Fri July 24, 2015 4:54 pm

With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, and the insurance marketplace in Illinois - more contraceptives are available at no cost to women who are covered under the plans. But there is still confusion when it comes to just what methods are included. 

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NPR Story
6:10 am
Fri July 10, 2015

Downtown Springfield Celebrates BACON

Originally published on Thu July 9, 2015 1:01 pm

Taste of Downtown was a festival that Springfield had put on for 15 years. But it's gone. In its place is the Bacon Throwdown & Music Fest, also hosted by Downtown Springfield Inc. Victoria Ringer heads the non-profit group. She joined us to talk about the new fest - which will feature bacon as the key ingredient to the food being offered from Springfield-area resturants.

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State News
6:38 am
Fri July 3, 2015

Grassroots Efforts To Keep State Museum Open

Illinois State Museum in Springfield
Lisa Ryan WUIS - Illinois Issues

Originally published on Sat July 4, 2015 12:17 pm

Almost 7,000 people on Facebook have "liked" a page titled 'Save the Illinois State Museum.' Supporters have planned a rally for July 21st. 

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NPR Story
7:06 am
Thu June 18, 2015

Union Members Will Celebrate Updated Mother Jones Memorial

Mother Jones

Originally published on Wed June 17, 2015 12:32 pm

Union members have long been at odds with government in Illinois. They have come out attacking both Democrats and Republicans alike for measures to cut or freeze benefits as the state grapples with its billions of dollars of debt. One historical figurehead in the movement for workers' rights is still highly lauded - Mary Harris Jones, aka Mother Jones

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Community
4:39 pm
Tue June 9, 2015

Being Transgender In Illinois

Emma Todd, 20, has become an activist for transgender people. At 15, the Springfield native came out as transgender to her mother.

Originally published on Fri June 12, 2015 2:27 pm

ILLINOIS ISSUES - Emma Todd, then a 19-year-old freshman at the University of Tulsa, found herself seriously contemplating suicide, again. This time, the Springfield native had made her way to the top of a building.

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State News
1:32 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Are All Those Cat Videos Making Us Stupid?

A cat on a newspaper

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 12:43 pm

In this day and age when people put a lot of effort into making their videos or news stories viral,  there's one sure-fire way to garner some extra attention - put a cat in it. Instagram is full of pictures of cats, and your Facebook news feed likely sees a cat video from time to time. Grumpy Cat is a household name, and face. But what implication does this have with the quality of news we receive?
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State News
6:28 am
Fri February 27, 2015

Community Arts Groups Face Funding Challenges

The Springfield Art Association hosts an annual Paint the Street event.
Credit Steve Myers

Betsy Dollar’s office at the Springfield Art Association, which she heads, is a hodgepodge of computers used for digital art classes, important files, various books and pieces of art. Her dog, Jake, who tends to accompany her to work, is napping under the desk. Dollar is in the middle of a messy project, using clay to restore a historic ceiling medallion that was damaged at Edwards Place, a home that is part of the Springfield Art Association campus and was the original center of artistic activity for the group some 100 years ago. This is the office of a person who does far more than push papers and handle bureaucratic duties; it’s headquarters for a woman who does a little bit of everything to keep the organization she loves running.

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State News
5:57 am
Tue February 3, 2015

Jacksonville Girl Shares Story Of Brother's Death To Help Others

Valerie with the book she helped create

Originally published on Thu January 29, 2015 12:06 pm

Each year, hundreds of thousands of children in the U.S. are the victims of domestic abuse. Some die at the hands of the people who are supposed to protect them. That's what happened to Maxwell, he was two when he died after a history of neglect and abuse that was never adequately addressed. He left behind a family who will never forget him, and a sister who has worked to cope with his passing. 

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