The events of the last year have reshaped society, from the global pandemic to the nationwide movement for racial justice to a historic election where many said “democracy was on the ballot.”
To chart where Chicago goes next after this inflection point, WBEZ 91.5 FM’s daily talk show Reset is joining forces with the University of Chicago’s Center for Effective Government based at the Harris School of Public Policy to present Re-Imagine Chicago. This new series, running May through August on WBEZ, will investigate how institutions and systems operate in Chicago today and how they might work better to better serve residents of Chicago in the future.
The series will re-imagine how Chicago can work to lift up residents, improve civic engagement and enhance quality of life. Daily and weekly segments will feature in-depth discussions with academics, innovators and public servants to explore four core topic areas for Chicagoans: City government, financial investment, public safety and schools.
WBEZ host Sasha-Ann Simons will lead the Re-Imagine Chicago conversations on Reset. Simons joined WBEZ in December 2020, coming from Washington, D.C.’s NPR member station WAMU 88.5 where she most recently served as substitute host and national correspondent for the national radio show 1A and where she previously covered race, identity and economic mobility as a reporter.
“Throughout the Re-Imagine Chicago series, we’ll hear directly from people making the decisions in our city. Listeners will get to weigh in with their questions, ideas, and experiences,” said Simons. “We’ll also check in with people working and living in other cities around the country and the world to ask ourselves, ‘Could what’s working there work here in Chicago?’”
The series marks the first collaboration between WBEZ and the Center for Effective Government, a nonpartisan academic initiative to strengthen democratic institutions and improve the capacity of government to solve public problems by bringing together partners and stakeholders from research, government, advocacy, and media.
“We couldn’t be more excited to embark on this ambitious and essential project with WBEZ,” said Professor William Howell, director of the Center and the Sydney Stein Professor of American Politics at the Harris School and chair of the University’s political science department.
“Amidst the extraordinary challenges of the past year, we have an opportunity to ask fundamental questions about the institutions that govern our beautiful and vexing city. In working with a leading voice in Chicago media, we are eager to explore and elevate bold ideas needed to improve those institutions.”
Reset airs weekdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and streams live on wbez.org and the WBEZ app, providing a daily conversation that keeps Chicagoans connected to each other, to newsmakers, and to the top stories of the day during midday listening hours. The show strives to reflect the complexity of the city and region and to connect deeply with the many diverse communities WBEZ serves. For example, its Closing The Gap series digs into racial and socioeconomic disparities that exist in the Chicago area around issues like life expectancy, food security and access to mental healthcare, and hears from people working to close those gaps.
"Re-Imagine Chicago is an opportunity to brainstorm together about how our city and region can work better for residents," said Dan Tucker, executive producer of Reset. "We'll explain how our institutions and systems work today, explore creative solutions for improving them, and present those ideas to Chicago public servants and changemakers for their consideration.”
Listeners can follow the Re-Imagine Chicago series on social media channels including @WBEZ, @WBEZreset and @UChicagoCEG on Twitter. Additionally, throughout the summer WBEZ will be hosting a series of live events to further discuss. A capstone event, hosted by the Center for Effective Government, will take place after the conclusion of the series in September. Visit www.wbez.org/events and www.effectivegov.uchicago.edu/events to keep up to date on the latest event information.
You can learn more about the joint initiative here.
About WBEZ Chicago
WBEZ, Chicago’s NPR news source, serves the community with fact-based, objective news and information. WBEZ’s award-winning journalists ask tough questions, dig deep for answers and expose truths that spark change and foster understanding. In addition to its local and national news programming, WBEZ Chicago is home to a growing portfolio of popular podcasts, including the “Making” series of Making Beyoncé, Making Obama and Making Oprah; an investigative podcast series, Motive; 16 Shots: A podcast about the fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald; Nerdette; and Curious City. WBEZ Chicago has a legacy of innovation as the birthplace of nationally acclaimed programs such as This American Life, and Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me! and the ground-breaking podcast, Serial.
About the University of Chicago Center for Effective Government
The University of Chicago Center for Effective Government was founded in 2019 at the Harris School of Public Policy to help solve the problems of government ineffectiveness with a multi-faceted theory of action. The Center organizes its work and activities, and builds bridges between its stakeholders—scholars, students, practitioners, leaders, journalists, and advocates—around three key areas: ideas, education, and engagement. Through robust, innovative programming—including its Senior Practitioner Fellowship, Civic Leadership Academy, Rethinking our Democracy series, and ‘Not Another Politics Podcast’—the Center works to strengthen institutions of democracy and improve government’s capacity to solve public problems.