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Urbana native hopes to elevate Midwest voices with new national public radio show

Jeremy Hobson (left) talks about his new national show "The Middle" with Brian Mackey (right) in the Illinois Public Media studios on October 18, 2022.

URBANA – A Central Illinois native will launch a live call-in talk show nationwide on Wednesday night.

Jeremy Hobson is a former host of Marketplace Morning Report and WBUR/NPR’s Here and Now.

His new show “The Middle” is a limited talk show series. It will air weekly on WILL-AM 580 and FM 90.9 at 8:00 p.m. on October 19, 26, as well as November 2 and 9.

It will be live with interviews and a DJ playing music from regions where the show originates that week. The October 19 show will broadcast from the studios of Illinois Public Media, where Hobson began his broadcasting career at age 9. IPM will distribute the show to nearly 500 public radio stations nationwide.

The October 26 show will broadcast from WGCU Public Media in Fort Myers, Florida. Hobson will host the show from NPR member station KCUR in Kansas City on November 2. He’ll wrap up by hosting the show from another NPR member station, KJZZ in Phoenix on November 9, the day after the Midterm Election.  

One of the first guests will be Mayor Diane Marlin of Hobson’s hometown of Urbana. People are welcome to call in to the live show. If you want to call into the live show, call 844-4-MIDDLE, or 844-464-3353. The show will be based on the politics and culture of the Midwest and other overlooked parts of the country. Just don’t call it ‘flyover country.’

“I don’t like that term. I don’t want to use that term unless I have to use it to explain what the show is not,” said Hobson. “I grew up here and I don’t know why you would say that about a place, like ‘oh I just fly over you, I don’t care about you, you’re not important’.”

Hobson says “The Middle” will be different because it is hosted by a Midwesterner, not someone from the East or West coast, which is common for national NPR news and talk shows. He said the fact that most public radio hosts are from a coast, has led to a perception of bias.

“When you have a geographic and ideological diversity problem, then you’re not really listening to or talking to your audience because they are connected across the country. There is no network like public radio,” said Hobson.

The show will only air on four Wednesday nights. Hobson hopes that with donors and support, he can make it a regular weeknight series.

At 9-years-old, Hobson started in public radio by working on a show called Treehouse Radio on WILL. He interned for All Things Considered when he was 17-years-old. He was a student reporter in the Illinois Public Media newsroom during the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. He spent years working as a producer and reporter, before hosting Marketplace Morning Report heard on NPR stations around the country. He served as one of the hosts of WBUR/NPR’s weekday afternoon news magazine Here and Now, from 2013-2020.

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Reginald Hardwick

Reginald Hardwick

Reginald Hardwick is the News & Public Affairs Director for the Illinois Newsroom. He started at WILL in October of 2019 after serving as News Director for WKAR in East Lansing, Michigan. Previously, he was a news producer and manager at the NBC station in Dallas, where he won 7 Emmy awards. Born in Vietnam, Reginald is a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado. Email: rh14@illinois.edu Twitter: @RNewsWILL

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