Top of the Morning, March 16, 2018

Before he shared his expertise with the NCAA tournament audience Thursday, Illinois men's basketball coach BRAD UNDERWOOD spent 10 minutes chatting with MIKE HAILE and BRIAN BARNHART on WHMS.

Underwood was already in Atlanta, getting ready for two days on the air for CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV.

Family, friends hold vigil in spot where Champaign man fatally shot

CHAMPAIGN — About 100 people turned out Thursday night on a north Champaign street to pay tribute to a man who was killed in a shooting there earlier this week.

Participants prayed, lit candles and sent hundreds of balloons into the air in the 700 block of North Hickory Street to honor Montrez Vonner, 34, of Champaign.

Illinois Bicentennial craft beer makes its debut

SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Gov. Bruce Rauner and state lawmakers have debuted the first cans of the official Illinois Bicentennial craft beer.

Hand of Fate Brewing Co. of Petersburg won a craft beer contest for the opportunity to create the special brew for the state's 200th birthday.

FDA begins anti-smoking push to cut nicotine in cigarettes

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal health officials took the first step Thursday to drastically cut nicotine levels in cigarettes so they aren't addictive.

The Food and Drug Administration estimated that its sweeping anti-smoking plan, first announced last summer, could push the U.S. smoking rate to 1.4 percent. Now about 15 percent of U.S. adults smoke.

U.S. students protest against gun violence: 'We're sick of it'

They bowed their heads in honor of the dead. They carried signs with messages like "Never again" and "Am I next?" They railed against the National Rifle Association and the politicians who support it.

And over and over, they repeated the message: Enough is enough.

United to issue special pet carrier tags after dog's death

CHICAGO (AP) — United Airlines has announced it will issue special bag tags for animal carriers and prosecutors have launched an investigation to determine if criminal charges are warranted following the death of a French bulldog puppy that was forced into an overhead bin on a United flight.

Music on Main: John McMahon and Genevieve Kirk (w/ video)

Want to play in our lobby? Email Jim Rossow at and we'll book it.

The Beatles met growing up in Liverpool. John McMahon and Genevieve Kirk met because they work in the same building, M2 on Neil.

John Frayne | Hobson and Sinfonia bring it at all-Beethoven bash

Ian Hobson on March 9 led the Sinfonia da Camera in an all-Beethoven concert in the Foellinger Great Hall in which he directed the orchestra while playing the piano solo in Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 10.

'World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade' set for second jaunt in Urbana

URBANA — It's not too late to get in shape for Saturday's St. Patrick's Day celebration — the official kind.

Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin took to the elliptical machine to prepare for her role as grand marshal of the second annual World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade, which steps off at 5 p.m.

It starts on Main Street and extends one entire block, from Broadway to Race.

Office Hours with Aldo: Ted Underwood (w/ video)

On Thursdays throughout the semester, staff writer Adalberto Toledo will book an appointment with a local professor. Today: University of Illinois English and information sciences Professor TED UNDERWOOD.