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Melba Lara

Melba Lara

Host, All Things Considered

At WBEZ, in addition to being the long-time local host of All Things Considered, Melba has reported and hosted local, state and national political coverage and moderated the 2018 Illinois debate of candidates for governor. She also covered the campaign and re-election of President Barack Obama, as well covering stories from a variety of locations across Chicago, the Midwest, and Europe. Melba has interviewed newsmakers and lawmakers from politics, economics, education, medicine and the arts.

Melba has also produced news features for various NPR programs including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Latino USA and APM’s Marketplace.

Besides her work at WBEZ, Melba was also an award-winning host at Wisconsin Public Radio in Madison, Wisconsin and worked for Michigan Radio as a Morning Edition host. Melba was recognized with a Lisagor award for her reporting on HIV and Youth and is part of the team at WBEZ which won the 2014 Murrow National Award for overall excellence, large market radio.

She is a graduate of the University of Michigan.

Many of Chicago’s new migrants came to the United States seeking refuge. But once here, they can encounter shelters with dirty living conditions and, at times, staff who make racist comments and sexually harass residents, according to over 200 grievances obtained by WBEZ. “There are still ongoing issues based on the data and my conversations with people,” said WBEZ immigration reporter Adriana Cardona-Maguidad. In this episode, Cardona-Maguigad breaks down her investigation with WBEZ All Things Considered anchor Melba Lara. This episode was produced for broadcast by Lauren Frost.
A 6-year-old refugee from Afghanistan named Mahbuba arrived on the doorstep of a Chicago school in 2021. She was deaf and had no previous exposure to formal sign language. Over the next year, she would learn to communicate for the first time. “Her story reflects the difference that just a few people can make,” writes freelancer Elly Fishman. “Because of the lengths a few Chicagoans have been willing to go, an Afghan girl is finding her voice and a new start.” In this episode, we hear Mahbuba’s amazing journey to language, as written by Elly Fishman and read by WBEZ’s Melba Lara.
This week featured the first, fiery debate among Democratic Party candidates for governor of Illinois. We also had a chance to read an emoji-laden inspector general’s report that cleared State Sen. Ira Silverstein of Chicago of sexual harassment charges — with a caveat. And we reviewed a recently-unsealed lawsuit that alleges Bruce Rauner took private business meetings during his time as governor. Hear WBEZ’s politics team break down the latest state and local elections news, featuring host Melba Lara and WBEZ state politics reporters Dave McKinney and Tony Arnold.
Today the Obama Foundation submitted its formal plans to the city of Chicago for construction of the Obama Presidential Center. The campus will be built in the historic South Side Jackson Park. A series of approvals must happen first. And the campus design has been tweaked to reflect some of the community concerns about protecting park space. WBEZ South Side reporter Natalie Moore joined host Melba Lara to discuss the changes included in today’s plan.
In suburban Cook County, police officers sometimes make life or death decisions under lax and unenforced use of force policies, according to a review of 113 police shootings there since 2005. The WBEZ and Better Government Association review found that many of the police departments used policies with boilerplate language downloaded from companies that act as a sort of cop version of LegalZoom. These policies are supposed to provide officers guidance on how to handle different situations — and when it’s appropriate to use physical force. BGA investigator and data coordinator Jared Rutecki spoke with WBEZ’s Melba Lara about those companies and what else the investigation uncovered.
Friday marks the end of an era for NPR’s All Things Considered. After 30 years co-anchoring All Things Considered, Robert Seigel is about to step away from the microphone. Siegel joined NPR as a newscaster in 1976 and has been there ever since. He has had a 40-year career in journalism and helped shape NPR’s international reporting and national coverage. He started hosting All Things Considered in 1987.
Chicago Public Schools is defending its overhaul of the system’s special education program. This comes after a WBEZ investigation found that Chicago scaled back special education services last year after secretly instituting new rules. Spending was also cut by about 1.5 percent. In addition, WBEZ found that CPS relied on auditors without expertise in special education to help orchestrate this work. Chicago schools CEO Forrest Claypool argues the new rules are meant to give every child with special needs the chance to succeed. Claypool joins All Things Considered host Melba Lara and discusses why his administration decided to make changes to special education in the first place.
Evanston Township High School confirmed Wednesday it is investigating misconduct allegations against a former advisor in its theater department. The decades-old allegations include harassment and inappropriate sexual touching. WBEZ’s Carrie Shepherd is covering the story and joins All Things Considered host Melba Lara to share what she’s learned about the allegations so far.
Cook County’s controversial sweetened beverage tax seems to be on its way out. A county board committee voted overwhelmingly to repeal the so-called pop tax Tuesday afternoon. Commissioners say they heard from plenty of constituents who wanted the tax gone. But the likely repeal also leaves a huge hold next year’s county budget. WBEZ’s Michael Puente was at the meeting and joins All Things Considered host Melba Lara to discuss.
Public schools throughout Illinois usually receive their first payment from the state on Aug. 10 — but not this year. That’s because the money is on hold while lawmakers deal with another impasse, this time over how to distribute the funds to schools. WBEZ education reporter Linda Lutton explains how the state got to this point and what lawmakers are doing about it.
On Friday, Gov. Bruce Rauner addressed reporters for the first time since state lawmakers approved a budget over his veto. Rauner was north of Chicago in Gurnee, IlL. - where there’s been severe flooding, forcing some residents from their homes. WBEZ state politics reporter Tony Arnold tells us more about the appearance.
At least one person with a disability is murdered by a caregiver or parent each week in the United States, according to a new report from the Ruderman Family Foundation, an advocacy group for people with disabilities. Chicago-based advocate David Perry was the lead author on the report and joined WBEZ to talk about the report.
Since 2009, the Chicago Police Department has acquired tens of millions of dollars worth of property seized from Chicago residents through civil asset forfeiture. According to a recent Chicago Reader investigation, the department isn’t required to disclose how much money they make, or how they use it. Reader reporter Joel Handley joined us to explain what he found out after digging deeper.
The Tribune Tower has been sold to CIM Group for $240 million. Employees of the Chicago Tribune are expected to move out of the newspaper’s iconic home by mid-2017. The Chicago Tribune held an international design contest in the 1920s for a building to house its headquarters along Michigan Avenue. Architecture critic Lee Bey said the structure is one of the finest neo-Gothic towers in the country. He said today, it would be unheard of for a newspaper to hold such a competition because of slowing newspaper sales. The tower was designated as a Chicago landmark in 1989. WBEZ’s Melba Laura spoke with Bey about the building and its future.
The Chicago Urban League is launching a 10-year effort to save Chicago communities that have been devastated by neglect. The “Blueprint for an Equitable Chicago” includes improving education, jobs prospects and economic development among black Chicagoans. We sat down with Urban League CEO Shari Runner to dig into the Urban League’s goals. She says attacking symptoms, like violent crime, isn’t enough--change will come from addressing the underlying issues.
It’s now been three days since the city of Chicago released videos from the fatal police shooting of Paul O’Neal. The body and dash cam footage shows the chaotic moments before and after Chicago officers shot and killed the 18-year-old, who was attempting to flee in a stolen car. Not captured on tape: the shot to the back that ultimately killed O’Neal. Still, law enforcement experts, and average citizens, are drawing conclusions from the videos. Peter Moskos, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former Baltimore city police officer, watched all nine videos and broke them down on his blog. We spoke to him about what he saw in the videos and why he calls it a “bad shooting.”
Scientific research tells us that the climate is changing, but the changes are sometimes so slow and subtle that they can be difficult to actually visualize. A new photography project in Denali National Park in Alaska is setting out to do just that. Denali National Park botanist Carl Roland stumbled on a vast collection of landscape photos taken throughout the park’s history. He made it his mission to communicate the urgent need to address climate change by taking exact matches of more than 200 of the photos. Roland is featured in the WBEZ video Depth of Field, and joins us to talk about his project.
After recent scandals, public pressure, and call for reform, the city released hundreds of videos related to inquiries into conduct -- and potential incidents of misconduct. WBEZ’s Chip Mitchell has more on this story.