WBEZ’s Most Popular Stories Of 2016

Waiting for son
Eileen holds her son’s basketball jersey. She says she is looking forward to having him back home soon. Andrew Gill / WBEZ
Waiting for son
Eileen holds her son’s basketball jersey. She says she is looking forward to having him back home soon. Andrew Gill / WBEZ

WBEZ’s Most Popular Stories Of 2016

WBEZ brings you fact-based news and information. Sign up for our newsletters to stay up to date on the stories that matter.

This year in Chicago:

Below are some of WBEZ’s most read, watched and listened-to stories of 2016.

Illinois Has No Budget, So Where Do State Tax Dollars Go, Anyway?


April 11, 2016 - Dan Weissmann - Curious City

Even without a budget, Illinois is still collecting taxes. So this Curious City question about our tax dollars is especially timely: Where do those dollars go, and what, if anything, are they funding?

As it turns out - even on autopilot - Illinois is spending billions more than we’re taking in.

Professor With Perfect Prediction Record Says Trump Will Win Presidency

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at a campaign rally on Oct. 12, 2016, in Ocala, Fla. (Evan Vucci/AP)

October 12, 2016 - WBEZ Staff - Morning Shift

Most election forecasts rely heavily on polling data, but that’s not the case for “The Key to the White House” method developed by American University history professor Allan Lichtman. According to Lichtman, debates, advertising, endorsements and even political platforms do not have much influence on who wins the presidency.

Lichtman said the winner is largely determined by whether the populace is satisfied with how the president’s party has performed. In this case, the Democrats.

Lichtman has correctly predicted the winner of every presidential race since 1984.

How Illinois Pays For Public Schools, $9,794 Vs. $28,639

(LA Johnson/NPR)

April 17, 2016 - Becky Vevea - WBEZ News

The Chicago Ridge School District spent $9,794 per student in 2013. Chicago Ridge sits tucked along the southern edge of Chicago, a small district with just three schools. Roughly a third of its students are learning English as a second language, and two-thirds come from low-income families. About an hour away in Chicago’s affluent northern suburbs, Rondout District 72 spent a much higher sum - $28,639 - per student, in 2013.

So why does Rondout have so much and Ridge so little? Because Rondout is surrounded by businesses like Abbott that pay substantial property taxes. The district is also small and lucky.

Making Oprah

Oprah Winfrey gestures to the crowd at the Southwestern High School in Baltimore on Nov. 29, 1988. (Jason Lee/AP)

November 10, 2016 - Jenn White and Colin McNulty - WBEZ Podcasts

In a new WBEZ podcast, Oprah Winfrey tells the behind-the-scenes story of her iconic TV talk show, along with producers, staffers, TV executives and ratings rival Phil Donahue. The three-part series chronicles the show’s scrappy roots in Chicago, its rise to daytime dominance and the powerful sway Winfrey came to have in American life.

How Chicago School Construction Furthers Race And Class Segregation

(Andrew Gill/WBEZ)

July 7, 2016 - Sarah Karp and Becky Vevea - WBEZ News

Under Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Public Schools spent millions on brand new schools and expensive additions, even in places where neighboring schools have plenty of space for extra students. This new construction is disproportionately going to schools that serve the white middle class, sometimes ignoring opportunities to create more diverse schools.

Documents obtained by WBEZ show that Emanuel plans to keep doing this by using revenue from a record property tax hike passed last year.

Excruciating Choice: Trading Parental Custody For Mental Health Care

(Andrew Gill/WBEZ)

April 20, 2016 - Shannon Heffernan - WBEZ News

Across the country, and especially in Illinois, it can be incredibly difficult to get psychiatric services for a child, let alone pay for them. So when a parent has a child that needs psychiatric help, that parent sometimes must make the choice to give up custody.

State Comptroller Stops Paying Lawmakers Amid Impasse

 Illinois state Comptroller Leslie Munger on June 10, 2015. (Christian K. Lee/AP)

April 17, 2016 - Greta Johnsen - WBEZ News

Former Illinois comptroller Leslie Munger said she would stop paying lawmakers until they agree on a state budget.

Munger said until a budget is passed, the salaries for lawmakers, which add up to more than a million dollars a month, would be treated like other bills.

Facing A Growing Rat Problem, A Neighborhood Sets Off The Cat Patrol

(Victoria Thomas for WBEZ)

April 4, 2016 - David Schaper - NPR

In Chicago, one neighborhood’s rat problem is about to get a lot worse. Crews are preparing to tear down an old hospital, and when the wrecking ball starts swinging the rodents living in and underneath the aging structure will scurry.

The city and the developer are setting poison baits and traps to help control the problem, but some residents are turning to one of the rats’ worst enemies — cats.

One Block, Zero Shootings: How One Mom Is Building Community In Englewood

August 22, 2016 - Natalie Moore - WBEZ News

When a woman was shot and killed on 75th and Stewart in Englewood last year, Tamar Manasseh had an “enough is enough” moment. Right after the slaying, she decided to organize Mothers Against Senseless Killings, or M.A.S.K.

M.A.S.K. is a mom patrol that camps out on the block of 75th and Stewart every summer afternoon into evening as a form of violence resistance. The moms wear hot pink shirts and black hats. R&B and hip hop music blast from speakers.

“This isn’t just about stopping violence. It’s about building community,” Manassah said. “You want to know your neighbors. When you know your neighbors people don’t die. That’s how that works.”