Michael Powell is a train driver for the Chicago Transit Authority. He captivated me for years with his chatty speeches over the train's speakers. He'd say things that felt too intimate, pep-talking strangers who were having a rough day. Finally, I tracked him down for this interview. This story was featured by the Chicago Independent Radio Project (CHIRP) as part of their Person of Interest series, and also by Working Now.
I investigated the increased local hawk population for WBEZ's Curious City, and we uncovered a wildlife conservation success story. Experts at the Lincoln Park Zoo's Urban Wildlife Institute told us that Cooper's Hawks are on the rise after spending years on the Illinois Endangered Species list. Special thanks to Chicago artist Diana Sudyka for custom illustrations (!) of our hawk neighbors. The full story is here. (The story begins at 4:45 on this Soundcloud file.)
Note: the hawk in this image is *not* to scale. It's a composite image from two Creative Commons licensed photos via Flickr by users: "Chickens in the trees" and "like, totally." Yes, those are their usernames.
Along with WBEZ’s Curious City team, I looked into the listener-submitted question: how many objects does The Field Museum have in its collection, and how many of them are on exhibit at any given time? We took a tour of one of the museum's storage areas, and uncovered a backstory for one artifact that began on the other side of the world. More information, including a video of our adventure, can be found here.
I stumbled onto the oldest standing geodesic dome, which was built by the late Buckminster Fuller. Fuller called himself a "comprehensive anticipatory design scientist," out to solve the problems confronting "Spaceship Earth" using smart design. More than fifty years after it was built, the dome is not in good shape. This version of this story was produced in collaboration with 99% Invisible. More pictures of the dome are on their website. (This is the 99%-ified version of Bucky's Dome, posted below.)
In the middle of a town where almost every home is covered in classic New England wood shingles, there's a giant dome. It looks like a three story tall golf ball, and the door was left unlocked. This story was produced at the Transom Story Workshop, and aired on WCAI's Arts and Ideas. There is a 99%-ified version of this piece posted above. Photo by JP Davidson.