Collection Summary

The Focus 580 Collection consists of 1,293 episodes dating from 1988 through 2005. The program was a live public radio call-in talk show produced by WILL-AM at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It was broadcast Monday through Friday from 10 am to noon, with two hour-long episodes each day. Topics ranged from international affairs, politics, health, the environment, science and technology, education, racial and gender equality, and social justice, to ordinary interests of daily life such as gardening, home maintenance, music, and books. Focus 580 was hosted by David Inge and produced by Jack Brighton, who also served as guest host. The program was unusually ambitious in attempting to connect the concerns of its local community with state, national, and international issues of the day. Quality of the program was aided greatly by access to faculty and subject matter experts at the University of Illinois, in addition to live telephone interviews with guests around the globe. Audience participation by telephone was central to the mission of Focus 580, as it sought not only to inform, enlighten, and entertain its listeners, but also to use the intimacy and immediacy of conversation to do what live local radio can do at its best: create community.

Collection Background

From 2009 to 2013 WILL received several grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to catalog, digitize, and preserve the most at-risk items in the station's audiovisual archives, which comprise some 35,000 recordings dating from 1928. Focus 580 was considered a high priority for preservation in the AAPB as WILL's flagship program from 1981 to 2014, when it went off the air. The AAPB Focus 580 collection comprises a significant portion of the more than 11,000 interviews aired during the program's tenure. Many more of those interviews have been digitized and are accessible for streaming on WILL's website.