Stories by Erica Gunderson

Ask Geoffrey: When Ida B. Wells Met Frances Willard

A story of a clash between women’s suffragists and anti-lynching activists in Ask Geoffrey.

Parents’ Return to Work in Phase 4 Stymied by Struggle to Find Child Care

(WTTW News)

As parents begin returning to the office amid the coronavirus pandemic, a glaring problem awaits them: child care. And for many Illinois families, COVID-19 made an already difficult situation even worse.

Ask Geoffrey: The Weird, Wild and Wacky Days of the WTTW Auction

Charlie Finley participates in the WTTW auction in 1976. (WTTW)

Longtime viewers might remember a time when for one wild week a year, they could buy everything from spark plugs to mink coats right here at our studios. Geoffrey Baer revisits that era.

Chicago Gyms and Fitness Clubs Are Pumped to Reopen

Retro Fitness (WTTW News)

It’s been 95 long days since the treadmills and weight benches of Chicago’s fitness centers fell silent thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. But this Friday, gyms in Illinois will be allowed to reopen.

Is Internet Access a Right or a Privilege?

(Photo by Windows on Unsplash)

Internet access has been a lifeline for those staying at home. But for the 18% of Illinoisans without a broadband internet subscription, that lifeline is cut off. We discuss ideas for ensuring internet equity.

As COVID-19 Cases Rise in Illinois’ Latino Communities, So Do Fears of Undercounting

People wearing masks line up for a food drive in Brighton Park on Chicago’s Southwest Side on April 23, 2020. (WTTW News)

As Latino communities scramble to understand why the coronavirus has hit them so hard, they’re calling upon elected officials to do more to help reverse the trend of rising infection rates.

Ready for a ‘Road Trip’ Through Time? New PBS Series Debuts

Emily Graslie at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana, for Episode 2 of “Prehistoric Road Trip.” (Credit: Julie Florio / WTTW)

The new WTTW-produced PBS series “Prehistoric Road Trip” is a project more than two billion years in the making. Host Emily Graslie tells us about the show.

How Community Organizations Can Help Reduce Dependence on Police

(WTTW News)

For many people, calling the police to handle everything from noise complaints to neighbor disputes is a reflexive response. But for some, a troubled history with police makes calling 911 a difficult choice. 

Is That Cough COVID-19 or Allergies? Here’s How to Tell

(flockine / Pixabay)

As those of us who are accustomed to sniffling, coughing and sneezing our way through spring and summer already know, it’s allergy season. But during a pandemic, those coughs could signal something more than a high pollen count.

Pro Sports Make a Game Plan for Returning to Play

(stanbalik / Pixabay)

Sports fans, the countdown can finally begin. As the country takes its first steps out of a coronavirus-induced slumber, plans for the re-emergence of pro sports are surfacing. 

Having ‘The Talk’: How Families Prepare Black Children for Police Interactions

(cocoparisienne / Pixabay)

Just about every teenager gets safe-driving tips from their parents when they get their first driver’s license. But for black teens, the freedom and independence that comes with driving necessitates an added conversation.

Having the Talk: What to Say to Kids About Protests, Racism and Violence

Jahan James, 8, sits on the shoulders of his father, Jonathan James, who addresses the crowd during a protest on Tuesday, June 2, 2020 in Old Town. (Evan Garcia / WTTW News)

As images of police brutality and cities on fire saturate the media, keeping kids in the dark may not be an option. Here are tips for talking to children about difficult topics.

Communities in Conflict: Little Village Quiets After Days of Anger, Violence

A unity march in Little Village follows days of unrest and reports of racially motivated violence. (WTTW News)

How Chicago communities came together to push past tensions that were feeding a racial divide. 

Riot or Rebellion: Why Peaceful Protests Can Become Violent

A chaotic scene in downtown Chicago on the evening of Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Hugo Balta / WTTW News)

The line between peaceful political protest and chaotic violence can be become blurred in an instant. Activist Jahmal Cole and educator Reuben Jonathan Miller of the University of Chicago weigh in.

Ask Geoffrey: A Brief History of Chicago’s Trash

(WTTW News)

Longtime Chicago Ald. Roman Pucinski once said, “There’s nothing as crucial to an alderman as garbage.” So how did garbage cans become a source and symbol of political power in this city? Geoffrey Baer talks trash.

How to Protect Your Credit Score’s Health During the Pandemic

(Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash)

For the 1 in 6 Americans who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus, their credit score might be the last thing on their minds. 

Furloughed Restaurant Workers Deliver 3,200 Free Meals to Front-Line Workers

Bill Phan, left, and Kevin Yoo of Initiative 77(3)12. (Courtesy of Phan and Yoo)

Through a nonprofit effort dubbed Initiative 77(3)12, friends Bill Phan and Kevin Yoo are feeding hundreds of health care workers each week across Chicago – and they hope to keep it going as long as the need continues.

Ask Geoffrey: What’s the History of Chicago Common Brick?

Chicago common brick. (Courtesy Will Quam)

Chicago’s brick buildings put on a refined face for the street side, but if you peek past the facade, you’ll find that what’s holding them up is a little bit rougher. Geoffrey Baer has this history of the Chicago common brick.

Chef Rick Bayless Sounds the Alarm on Restaurant Survival

Chef and restaurateur Rick Bayless, as pictured in a screenshot from the PBS show “Mexico — One Plate at a Time.”

He’s a familiar face, thanks to his PBS program “Mexico: One Plate at a Time.” And his food is familiar too, thanks to his multiple restaurants. Chef Rick Bayless talks about what the industry needs to stomach the pandemic.

Ask Geoffrey: Historical Markers That Don’t Quite Hit the Mark

History buffs are big fans of historical markers, those often-overlooked plaques that tell the tales of site-specific events from years past. Geoffrey Baer tells us about some unusual historical markers around Chicago.

How Older Adults Can Stave Off Anxiety, Isolation During the Pandemic

(beejees / Pixabay)

As the group most at risk from the virus, older adults are advised to stay indoors as much as possible. But they’re also the group most at risk of mental health problems due to social isolation. 

Pandemic Parenting: Helping Kids Cope with COVID-19

(Wokandapix / Pixabay)

As the days of social distancing turn into months, anxiety and frustration continue to mount. We get advice on safeguarding kids’ emotional well-being during the pandemic.

Ask Geoffrey: The Story Behind the Chicago Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium

(WTTW News)

A onetime tree nursery became a bucolic place of rest and recovery for tuberculosis patients on Chicago’s North Side. Geoffrey Baer has the story of a decadeslong battle against a contagion.

UIC Nurse Battles COVID-19 at Hospital and at Home

David Ortiz, a registered nurse, appears on “Chicago Tonight” via Zoom on Wednesday, April 29, 2020. (WTTW News)

If there’s one thing we’ve learned with certainty since the arrival of COVID-19 in the U.S., it’s that nothing is certain — least of all for the health care workers on the front lines of the crisis.

Chicago’s Anti-Violence Workers Face Fight on Two Fronts

(WTTW News)

Even in the shadow of the pandemic, gun violence in Chicago has not stopped. How the fight against COVID-19 is affecting the fight against violent crime.