The Story of Irish Whiskey

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If your celebration of St. Patrick’s Day includes raising a glass to make a toast, Martin Duffy thinks there should be Irish Whiskey in that glass. Last weekend, Duffy led a class on the history of the spirit at the Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago. First Light host Brian O’Keefe went to the class, you know, for the education

Whiskey enthusiast and historian Martin Duffy leads a class on the history, production and flavor of Irish Whiskey at the Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago

Whiskey enthusiast and historian Martin Duffy leads a class on the history, production and flavor of Irish Whiskey at the Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago

Class attendees got to sample a variety of Irish Whiskeys as part of Martin Duffy’s class

Class attendees got to sample a variety of Irish Whiskeys as part of Martin Duffy’s class

More than 50 people attended the final Irish whiskey history class before St. Patrick’s Day

More than 50 people attended the final Irish whiskey history class before St. Patrick’s Day

House Plants Probably Mean House Pests

U of I Extension educator Richard Hentschel joins First Light every few weeks for the ‘Farm to Table’ segment

U of I Extension educator Richard Hentschel joins First Light every few weeks for the ‘Farm to Table’ segment

Periodically at First Light, University of Illinois Extension educator Richard Hentschel and host Brian O’Keefe together for the ‘Farm to Table’ segment. They discuss everything from agriculture and agribusiness to backyard gardening and your home landscape. For this segment, Richard and Brian visited the greenhouse at Platt Hill Nursery that was packed with houseplants

Plan to Enhance The Quad Cities Riverfront

This week in the First Light look at stories from around the state, we have a story from northwest Illinois, and just across the Mississippi River. Businesses in downtown Davenport…and the Figge Art Museum want people to help plan the next step for the Mississippi riverfront. A Des Moines consultant created a River Vision design plan. Illinois Public Radio’s Michelle O'Neill reports the city, museum, and business group are excited about the plan

Designers unveiled a plan to enhance the riverfront park along the Mississippi River in Davenport (image submitted by RDG DAHLQUIST ART STUDIO)

Designers unveiled a plan to enhance the riverfront park along the Mississippi River in Davenport
(image submitted by RDG DAHLQUIST ART STUDIO)

Filling Holes With Mosaic Art

One of the more than 50 mosaics Jim Bacor has installed in potholes around Chicago

One of the more than 50 mosaics Jim Bacor has installed in potholes around Chicago

Spring flowers aren’t the only thing that emerges as the Midwest makes the transition from winter to spring. The freezing and thawing of water also creates a new crop of potholes. Last summer First Light host Brian O’Keefe visited with a Chicago artist who makes the most out of the jarring gaps in the pavement. He’s filled more than 50 potholes with mosaic art installations

Bowls filled with different colored pieces of glass in Jim Bacor’s studio

Bowls filled with different colored pieces of glass in Jim Bacor’s studio

Mosaic artist Jim Bacor

Mosaic artist Jim Bacor

Vegetarium Museum Exhibit Comes To College of DuPage

College of DuPage Art History professor David Oulette helped to bring the National Vegetarian Museum exhibit to the COD Library

College of DuPage Art History professor David Oulette helped to bring the National Vegetarian Museum exhibit to the COD Library

College of DuPage is hosting a special exhibit this month. The Chicago based National Vegetarian has sent its traveling exhibit to more than 15 locations over the past two years as a way to shine a spotlight on the push for people to embrace a plant based diet. First Light host Brian O’Keefe talked with COD Art History professor David Oullette about the exhibit

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Helping Homeless Students And Their Families

(Graphic by Tamara Cubrilo for IL Newsroom)

(Graphic by Tamara Cubrilo for IL Newsroom)

This week in First Light’s look at stories from around the state, we have a story from Illinois Public Radio’s Lee Gaines. There are more than 50,000 homeless students in Illinois. That’s according to data from the Illinois State Board of Education. One school district in suburban Cook County used a little known state law to help two homeless families find a place to live. But even advocates of the workaround acknowledge it’s only going to help a fraction of homeless families.

A Slice of Mardi Gras In DuPage County

Iced and decorated with purple, green, and yellow sugar The King Cake Girls ship their Mardi Gras treats across the country

Iced and decorated with purple, green, and yellow sugar The King Cake Girls ship their Mardi Gras treats across the country

A season comes to end this week, no not winter, Mardi Gras season ends on Tuesday. First Light host Brian O’Keefe didn’t realize there was a defined Mardi Gras season until he met ‘The King Cake Girls’, Kristen McCann and Cheryl Bowman. The season runs from the day after the Catholic holiday, Epiphany and continues until the day before Ash Wednesday. Kristen and Cheryl help people celebrate the season with a sweet treat associated with the season

The King Cake Girls Cheryl Bowman (left) and Kristen McCann (right) review cake orders during a night of baking in Naperville

The King Cake Girls Cheryl Bowman (left) and Kristen McCann (right) review cake orders during a night of baking in Naperville

Kristen McCann rolls out the dough for an extra large King Cake during a recent night of baking

Kristen McCann rolls out the dough for an extra large King Cake during a recent night of baking

Cheryl Bowman rolls the dough into a rope and then twists two together to create the ring of King Cake

Cheryl Bowman rolls the dough into a rope and then twists two together to create the ring of King Cake

The King Cake Girls supplies include a ziplock of little plastic babies to go with each cake they make

The King Cake Girls supplies include a ziplock of little plastic babies to go with each cake they make

Remembering The Biggest Case of His Career

For more than 25 years, the Jeanine Nicarico kidnapping, rape, and murder dominated the criminal justice system in DuPage County, and to an extent Illinois. Now, 36 years after the forever 10-year old girl was taken from her Naperville home, one of the defense attorneys in the case is releasing a book about it. First Light host Brian O’Keefe visited Gary Johnson’s law office to talk about ‘Luck Is A Talent’

Aurora based attorney Gary Johnson remembers his role in the Jeanine Nicarico trial in his upcoming book ‘Luck Is A Talent’

Aurora based attorney Gary Johnson remembers his role in the Jeanine Nicarico trial in his upcoming book ‘Luck Is A Talent’

An Explanation of The Northern Lights

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Each month on the first Sunday, College of DuPage Astronomy professor Joe DalSanto joins First Light host Brian O’Keefe for a discussion of astronomy, space news, and to offer guidance for backyard astronomers. This month, Brian and Joe started their conversation with an explanation of the northern lights

A recent photo of the Aurora Borealis looked to some like a dragon descending from the sky (photo courtesty of NASA.gov)

A recent photo of the Aurora Borealis looked to some like a dragon descending from the sky
(photo courtesty of NASA.gov)

Grief & Healing Combine In The Illinois Debut of A New Symphony

This week in our look at stories from around the state…we check in with Illinois Public Radio’s Rich Egger. A story of love and loss…grief and healing is told through music in a newly written symphony.  A world-renowned composer started writing the piece…it was later finished by his son. In western Illinois Rich Egger has the story

Composer Todd Maslanka discusses the piece he and his father co-wrote prior to its Illinois debut at Western Illinois University (photo courtesy of Rich Egger)

Composer Todd Maslanka discusses the piece he and his father co-wrote prior to its Illinois debut at Western Illinois University (photo courtesy of Rich Egger)

Becoming a Digital Rock Star

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What started as a way to stay connected with friends and family has in recent years become a way for businesses to connect with new customers. Making the most of social media can propel a small business to the next level of success. Small Business consultant and entrepreneur Laurel Delaney visited College of DuPage to help business owners learn to navigate social media

Entrepreneur and small business consultant Laurel Delaney spoke at College of DuPage as part of the month long Humanities Festival

Entrepreneur and small business consultant Laurel Delaney spoke at College of DuPage as part of the month long Humanities Festival

Spring Could Pack A Punch...When It Finally Arrives

College of DuPage Meteorology Professor Paul Sirvatka is ready to track the severe weather that comes with a spring warm up

College of DuPage Meteorology Professor Paul Sirvatka is ready to track the severe weather that comes with a spring warm up

It seems like every winter, there comes a time when First Light host Brian O’Keefe begins to wonder if spring will ever arrive. With a fresh coating of snow on his driveway this week, that question renewed itself. So Brian stopped by the College of DuPage Meteorology lab to visit with professor Paul Sirvatka. They talked about this winter, the up coming severe weather season, and Brian asked if there’s going to be a spring warm up anytime soon

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Helping Trees & Shrubs Through The Last of Winter Weather

U of I Extension educator Richard Hentschel joins First Light host Brian O’Keefe periodically for the ‘Farm to Table’ segment

U of I Extension educator Richard Hentschel joins First Light host Brian O’Keefe periodically for the ‘Farm to Table’ segment

This week, in the periodic ‘Farm-to-Table’ segment, University of Illinois Extension educator Richard Hentschel and First Light host Brian O’Keefe continued their visit to Platt Hill Nursery. Nursery Manager Chrissie Sieff took them out to an enclosure of sapling trees. At this time of year, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the area could get a very wet and heavy snow. Richard and Brian talked with Chrissie about what you should, and shouldn’t do for trees and shrubs that are weighed down with ice and snow

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Beloit International Film Festival Is Underway

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In the First Light look at stories from around the state, we have a story from just across the state line. The Beloit International Film Festival started a 10-day run on Friday. Organizers say it represents the best in film making. This year’s festival reflects a shift in film culture, Illinois Public Radio’s Guy Stephens has a closer look at this year’s BIFF

A Story of Corporate Social Responsibility & Sustainability

Retired McDonald’s executive Bob Langert details his 30 years dealing with difficult issues for the fast food giant

Retired McDonald’s executive Bob Langert details his 30 years dealing with difficult issues for the fast food giant

Few companies have had the impact on society as the former Oakbrook based McDonalds. It changed eating habits, shaped an entire category of restaurants, and in the process became a frequent target for activist groups. A new book offers an insiders look at how the company responded to those critics

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COD Hosts African American Read-In

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For more than 20 years College of DuPage has made reading and writing part of it’s celebration of Black History Month. This week, COD renewed that tradition with the African American Read-In. First Light host Brian O’Keefe attended the event for this story

College of DuPage interim President Dr. Brian Caputo read from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech as part of the annual African American Read-In

College of DuPage interim President Dr. Brian Caputo read from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech as part of the annual African American Read-In

Rockford Choir Selected To Perform In Peoria

This week in the First Light look at stories from around the state, a story from northern Illinois. A Rockford choir is one of several ensembles picked to perform in January at the Illinois Music Educators Conference in Peoria. The choir and its director were excited about the opportunity to perform. Illinois Public Radio’s Guy Stephens reports they were also looking forward to sharing a program of hope and faith

Rockford Christian School Choir Director Andy Bruhn rehearses his high school group.  (photo courtesy of Guy Stephens/WNIJ)

Rockford Christian School Choir Director Andy Bruhn rehearses his high school group. (photo courtesy of Guy Stephens/WNIJ)

Finding Wellness In The Garden

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Backyard gardeners don’t let a little snow and brutally cold weather dampen their enthusiasm. That fact was on display when garden writer Shawna Coronado launched a book tour this week at Morton Arboretum. a few dozen people filed into the Thornhill Education Center as both snow and temperatures fell. First Light host Brian O’Keefe talked with Shawna about the new book.

Author and gardener Shawna Coronado kicked off a cross country book tour this week at the Morton Arboretum

Author and gardener Shawna Coronado kicked off a cross country book tour this week at the Morton Arboretum

Enthusiastic gardeners braved the snow and cold to hear one time Warrenville resident Shawna Coronado talk about her new book The Wellness Garden

Enthusiastic gardeners braved the snow and cold to hear one time Warrenville resident Shawna Coronado talk about her new book The Wellness Garden

February's Night Sky

Image of Bedin-1, an ancient and little changed galaxy (image courtesy of NASA.gov)

Image of Bedin-1, an ancient and little changed galaxy (image courtesy of NASA.gov)

Every month on the first Sunday of the month, College of DuPage Astronomy professor Joe DalSanto joins First Light host Brian O’Keefe for a discussion of astronomy, space news, and what backyard astronomers can expect to see in the night sky over the next several weeks. This month’s conversation got started with questions about a fossil galaxy

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College of DuPage Astronomy professor Joe DalSanto offers a public talk about the Hubble Space telescope next Saturday night (February 9) at COD

College of DuPage Astronomy professor Joe DalSanto offers a public talk about the Hubble Space telescope next Saturday night (February 9) at COD