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February 17, 2006
Posted online February 23, 2006

WSIU to address region's meth epidemic in local call-in show

Carbondale, IL - Speed. Meth. Glass. On the street, methamphetamine has many names. What started as a fad among West Coast motorcycle gangs in the 1970s has spread across the United States, and despite lawmakers' calls for action, the drug is more potent, and more destructive, than at any time in the past decade. Today, there are more than 1.5 million meth addicts in the U. S. alone, and millions more worldwide.

WSIU TV 8/DT 40 and WUSI TV 16/DT 19, the public television stations of Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC), will address the meth crisis at the national and local levels with two special broadcasts, including a one-hour special from the WSIU InFocus series, on Thursday, February 23, beginning at 8pm.

In a reporting partnership with The Oregonian, Frontline: The Meth Epidemic (8-9pm) investigates the appalling impact of methamphetamine on individuals, families and communities and exposes the inherent conflict between the illegal drug trade and the legitimate $3 billion dollar cold remedy business.

"Meth has made a steady march across the United States," says Steve Suo, a reporter for Portland's The Oregonian, who has followed meth from the beginning. The discovery of meth labs in states from Maine to Florida foreshadows a new crisis on the East Coast.

"They can expect to see increased car theft, increased identity theft, domestic violence, child neglect, drug overdoses and just a lot of mayhem," says Suo.

Following at 9pm, Mid-America's Meth Epidemic, a live one-hour edition of WSIU InFocus, will address the region's meth crisis through personal stories, a panel discussion among local experts, and a live call-in opportunity for viewers.

"By combining the Frontline broadcast with our own local production and outreach efforts, we hope to give our audience a greater insight into the policy issues involving meth at the national and state levels," says WSIU producer and program host, Jak Tichenor. "We also want to put viewers in contact with local experts who can help them address the meth issue in their own families and communities."

Panelists scheduled to appear on the program include Steve Mange, Methamphetamine Policy Advisor to Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan; George Norwood, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Southern District of Illinois; Rob McConnell, Saline County Sheriff's Office; Wendy Bailie, Franklin-Williamson County Human Services; and Bill Peyton, Regional Director, Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Viewers are invited to call 800-745-9748 throughout the broadcast to ask questions and to talk with members of the Southern Illinois Methamphetamine Control Coalition, who will provide information about regional meth treatment programs. The phone bank will include representatives from Southern Illinois Healthcare, Herrin Hospital, Pepsi Mid-America, John A. Logan College, Heartland Regional Medical Center, Williamson County Police, and Franklin Williamson Human Services.

"Meth has caused unprecedented misery for countless families in our viewing area and has stretched local law enforcement resources almost to the breaking point," says Tichenor. "But there's also an incredible amount of good work being done to address the problem and to provide workable solutions. We aim to showcase these local efforts in our broadcast." More details about this episode of WSIU InFocus and direct links to other helpful websites will be available online at beginning on February 21.

In addition to the WSIU InFocus special, WSIU has donated children's books and early learning materials for Kids Care Backpacks, which are being distributed to children who have been removed from meth environments. The backpacks are part of Project X, a free service of Southern Illinois Regional Social Services (SIRSS) providing education on the dangers of methamphetamine and club drugs through collaboration with parents, schools, community agencies, churches, and city government. Southern Illinois Healthcare is assisting SIRSS with the distribution of the Kids Care backpacks.

WSIU InFocus is WSIU Television's newest local series. Each episode features a combination of field-produced and studio segments on the arts and education, family and community, regional history and cultural identity, and news and public affairs.


Reaching out to surrounding communities, and developing and maintaining a foundation for social progress in our region are among the goals outlined in Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, a blueprint for SIUC's development by its 150th anniversary in 2019.

WSIU Public Broadcasting is licensed to the Board of Trustees of Southern Illinois University. It operates two analog and two digital public television channels, and three public radio stations. WSIU's mission is to improve the quality of life of the people they serve. Through programs, services, and outreach, WSIU partners with other community organizations to promote positive change and to support the public service mission of Southern Illinois University Carbondale. To find out more, visit

Contact: Jak Tichenor, WSIU Producer, (618) 453-6187,

© 2005 The Cairo Gate