Student-made programs to air on WILL radio

URBANA — The University Laboratory High School student-made series, "The Changing Military," will air on WILL-AM and FM radio at 6:35 a.m. and 8:35 a.m. Nov. 4-8.

The show will repeat on WILL-AM at 10:50 a.m. during "Focus," formerly called "Focus 580."

And the Uni hourlong documentary, "From the Frontlines to the Home Front: Inside Views of the Military 1940-2012," will air on WILL-AM at 6 p.m. Nov. 9 and again at 10 a.m. on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.

The public is invited to an interactive discussion about the changing military at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St.

Some of the veterans who were interviewed will participate, as well as students involved in making the documentary.

Illinois Public Media's Dave Dickey, who mentored the Uni students, said the changing nature of the military was one key thread in the programs. Another was the anti-war protests that Vietnam veterans faced when they came home.

"I think it's beneficial to look at the moments in history when the military changed, like when it integrated minorities, gay people and women into its ranks," he said.

Student producer Sunjay Koshy said most people know war primarily through statistics on casualties.

"I want people to get a more detailed, complex view of war through the interviews with people who served," he said.

The other student producer, Leif Hague, said he had never before thought of the military as a living, changing entity until he listened to all the interviews.

"It's really different now than during World War II," he said.

One of the interviewees, World War II veteran Joseph Smith, talks about riding a train in Mississippi during the war. The train stopped and Smith saw a big sign that said, "Welcome Servicemen."

"The Red Cross was there with doughnuts — mountains of doughnuts — and coffee urns," he said. "We were like, 'Oh boy, this is fine!'"

They waited, but nothing happened. When the Red Cross saw that the train was filled with black troops, it closed down.

Another veteran interviewed, Shaheen Shorish, is an American citizen of Afghan descent — and Muslim and female. While serving in the Persian Gulf War, she realized she was gay.

She talked about knowing that anyone who didn't like her could report her and cause the Navy investigative services to follow her.

Paul Wisovaty, a Vietnam veteran, talked about coming to the realization that the war was wrong but he also realized that serving in the military was the best thing to happen to him because it broadened the horizons of a central Illinois boy who had never been anywhere.

Other central Illinois residents interviewed were Richard Adkins, Steve Allen, Charles Bruns, Sandy Cawvey, Jacob Crawford, Chad Garland, Terry Hairrell, Andy Hamblin, Jill Knappenberger, Joseph Miller, Nicholas Osborne, Joseph Rank, Karen Semple, Melody Simeone and Geri Young.

The veterans were interviewed by 12- and 13-year-old students. Their teacher, Janet Morford, said the students' age and inexperience may have enabled them to get better stories from the people who served.

"It's that way each year when students do an oral history project with the help of WILL Radio," she said. "The richness of every project comes down to the incredible conversations these interviewees are willing to have with these young students."

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