Cheryl Corley

Cheryl Corley is an NPR correspondent who works for the National Desk and is based in Chicago. She travels throughout the Midwest covering issues and events throughout the region's 12 states.

In recent years, Corley has reported on the campaign and re-election of President Barack Obama, on the efforts by Illinois officials to rethink the state's Juvenile Justice System, on youth violence in Chicago, and on political turmoil in the Illinois state government. She's reported on the infamous Trayvon Martin shooting case in Florida and covered tornadoes that have destroyed homes and claimed lives in Harrisburg, Illinois; small towns in Oklahoma; and Joplin, Missouri.

In addition, Corley was among the group of NPR reporters covering the devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as they tore through the Gulf Coast. She returned to the area, five years later, and joined the reporting team covering the impact of the BP oil spill. Corley also has served as a fill-in host for NPR shows, including Weekend All Things Considered, Tell Me More, and Morning Edition.

Prior to joining NPR, Corley was the news director at Chicago's public radio station, WBEZ, where she supervised an award-winning team of reporters. She also has been a frequent panelist on television news-affairs programs in Chicago.

Corley has received awards for her work from a number of organizations including the National Association of Black Journalists, the Associated Press, the Public Radio News Directors Association, and the Society of Professional Journalists. She earned the Community Media Workshop's Studs Terkel Award for excellence in reporting on Chicago's diverse communities and a Herman Kogan Award for reporting on immigration issues.

A Chicago native, Corley graduated cum laude from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, and is now a Bradley University trustee. While in Peoria, Corley worked as a reporter and news director for public radio station WCBU and as a television director for the NBC affiliate, WEEK-TV. She is a past President of the Association for Women Journalists in Chicago.

She is also the co-creator of the Cindy Bandle Young Critics Program. The critics/journalism training program for female high school juniors is a collaboration between AWJ-Chicago and the Goodman Theatre. Corley has also served as a board member of Community Television Network, an organization that trains Chicago youth in video and multi-media production.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

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The city of Gary, Indiana has stood as a symbol of the decline of the Rust Belt. The former steel town is battered and depopulated. Well, now its mayor is looking for ways to rebuild Gary and she reached across state lines to ask a neighbor for help, Richard M. Daley, the former and longest serving mayor of Chicago.

NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.

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In Chicago, there's a two-and-a-half-mile roadway that the mayor calls the Bat Cave. It's been around for more than a decade, but it's not well known. The mini-highway was designed to ferry conventioneers to Chicago's convention hall.

But as NPR's Cheryl Corley reports, some local politicians are arguing that the Bat Cave is being reserved for politicians with special clout.

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Today the Chicago Public School District began contacting more than 2,000 teachers and other employees to let them know they no longer have jobs. It's the second round of massive layoffs this year in Chicago. The teacher's union there calls it a bloodbath. Here's NPR's Cheryl Corley.

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Illinois is the last state in the country to prohibit gun owners from carrying concealed weapons. Now, state lawmakers have just one day left to meet a court order to change that. They'll meet tomorrow to consider revisions to a bill that would allow Illinois citizens to carry concealed guns in public. NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.

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We continue this week to dig into the findings of our poll of African-American communities and how black Americans rate many aspects of their lives. We conducted the poll with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.

While the gap between the well-off and poor in the U.S. has stretched wide in recent years, we found that black Americans describe their financial divide as a nearly 50-50 split, and it affects how they view their world. NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.

The Chicago Housing Authority has torn down all of its high rises and says it's close to completing its plans to transform public housing. Now, city leaders are moving to the next part of their plan: using public housing funds not just to build homes for poor families, but stores where they could shop and work. Some residents, however, say the city is breaking a promise to provide affordable housing.

A day after school officials approved shutting down 50 schools, the Chicago Teachers Union and community activists say they'll hold a voter registration and education campaign. The union is agitated that Mayor Rahm Emanuel, school board members and some lawmakers failed to listen to parents, teachers and others who called for the schools to remain open.

Before they voted yes on the sweeping school closure plan, school board members faced a torrent of criticism Wednesday. Protesters tried to conduct a sit-in at the front of the boardroom, but security officers escorted them out.

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In Cleveland today, Ariel Castro appeared in court; his hands bound, head lowered. He is accused of kidnapping three women and a child, and of raping the three women who escaped Monday from the house where they'd been held for roughly a decade. A judge set bond at $8 million, and an Ohio prosecutor says he will pursue additional charges and may seek the death penalty. NPR's Cheryl Corley reports from Cleveland.

Multiple counts of rape and kidnapping charges have been filed against Ariel Castro, the Cleveland man accused of holding three women captive for about a decade. The women held hostage in his house escaped earlier this week. Two are now at home with family while the third remains in the hospital.

Charges are expected Wednesday in Cleveland, where three women who'd been missing for years have been rescued.

The economy may be on the rebound, but many cultural institutions are still struggling to regain their financial footing. That's especially true for one of the country's most recognized museums — the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Known internationally for its research as well as its exhibits, the Field Museum must pay off millions in bond debt — and toe an ethical line as it does.

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Chicago's plan to shut down 54 schools would be the largest school closure in U.S. history. And it has taken a step closer to becoming a reality. After a month of public hearings, officials will hand over reports to the school board with recommendations for how many of the schools in question should be closed. As NPR's Cheryl Corley reports, parents, educators and students in Chicago say they are not ready to quit fighting for their schools.

First lady Michelle Obama gave a personal and emotional speech Wednesday in Chicago as she stepped into the debate over gun control.

"Right now, my husband is fighting as hard as he can and engaging as many people as he can to pass common-sense reforms to protect our children from gun violence," she said.

The first lady was in her hometown to encourage business leaders to donate millions of dollars to programs for at-risk youth.

He won a Pulitzer Prize for his writing, but just as influential as his print essays were his "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" movie reviews. Film critic Roger Ebert died Thursday after struggling for years with cancer. He was 70 years old.

His thumb may have made him famous on TV, but Ebert was first and foremost a print journalist. He worked on newspapers in grade school, high school and college. With his acumen for writing came a love of movies — and on July 12, 2005, proclaimed Roger Ebert Day by the city of Chicago, he told a crowd of admirers why movies matter.

The city's murder rate has dropped dramatically over the first three months of the year. The police superintendent says it's not a victory but it is progress. After a year in which murders in the country's third largest city topped more than 500, the homicide rate has declined to a level not seen since 1959.

In Chicago, officials have released a long-feared list that places more than 50 schools on the chopping block. The public school district faces a $1 billion shortfall, and the mayor says many of the city's school buildings are half empty. Some angry parents and teachers say the plan will harm children and they'll fight to keep the schools open.

During the March Madness of 1963, playing was infused with politics. The NCAA matchup between Loyola University of Chicago and Mississippi State helped put an end to segregated basketball. Loyola's win 50 years ago became known as the "game of change."

At the time, college basketball was still predominantly white, with usually no more than two or three black players appearing on the floor at any one time. But in '63, the Loyola Ramblers' starting lineup featured four black players.

When the stage lights go up at Chicago's Goodman Theatre on Monday evening, more than 20 high school students will each have a moment to step into the spotlight and perform a monologue from one of the plays written by the late August Wilson. Chicago's contest is one of several regional finals that strives to introduce students to the Pulitzer Prize winner's work. It's also a lead-up to the national August Wilson Monologue Competition that will be held on Broadway later this spring.

It's been nearly two years since Oprah ended her daily show, and Chicago's been adjusting to the loss of the daytime talk queen. Although she left a huge void, there's no need to write an obituary for the TV talk genre in Chicago.

In the lobby of Chicago's NBC Towers, the crowd of excited fans gathered for a TV taping is reminiscent of the Oprah days of old. But instead of Oprah, they're lined up to see veteran comedian Steve Harvey's show.

"I like Steve's energy. I like his shows. He's funny. He covers all topics," says fan Deloris Neal.

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The president will leave the sequester debate behind this afternoon when he travels to Chicago. He's expected to talk about the gun violence that plagues his home town.

Fifteen-year-old Hadiya Pendleton became a symbol of the problem after she was murdered last month in a park about a mile from the president's Chicago home. NPR's Cheryl Corley reports on what activists expect from President Obama.

When there's a big snowstorm or a plane has mechanical problems, airports often turn into uncomfortable holding pens, with people scrunched in chairs, lying on floors, filling up restaurants and otherwise trying to find something to do.

That's actually good news for one company. Minute Suites is building tiny airport retreats across the country. The suites are already operating in Atlanta and Philadelphia. Next up are Dallas-Fort Worth and Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

Hundreds of mourners, including first lady Michelle Obama, turned out Saturday for the funeral of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, a Chicago girl who was shot to death just days after she and her high school band performed at inauguration events in Washington.

Her killing has catapulted her into the nation's debate over gun violence.

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New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is taking his anti-gun campaign to Illinois and its 2nd congressional district. There, no less than 22 candidates hope to replace former Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. Gun violence plagued some of the Chicago neighborhoods that are part of the district. And as NPR's Cheryl Corley reports, guns have become a key issue in the race.

The gun violence that scars some Chicago neighborhoods has been a plague for one woman. Shirley Chambers first lost a child to gunfire in the mid 1990s. In 2000, a daughter and a son were shot to death just months apart. On Monday, Chambers buried her last child.

Nearly 500 people filled the pews, the choir lofts and hallways of St. Luke Church of God in Christ for the funeral of 33-year-old Ronnie Chambers, an aspiring music producer who died Jan. 26.

Hadiya Pendleton was a sophomore at King College Prep High School in Chicago. The 15-year-old traveled to Washington, D.C. last week to perform with the school's marching band at inaugural events. This week, she was shot to death by a man who inexplicably fired at her and a group of friends.

As President Obama unveiled his gun control proposals Wednesday, he highlighted mass shootings at schools in Colorado, Virginia and Connecticut. He also mentioned another group of children, not in school — the ones on the street corners of Chicago.

Chicagoan Annette Holt was at the White House during Obama's address. Her teenage son, Blair, was shot to death five years ago on a Chicago bus as he shielded a fellow student from a spray of bullets.

Authorities in Chicago on Friday will seek permission to exhume the body of a million-dollar lottery winner who ended up dead before he could cash in his winnings.

Forensic pathologists first ruled that Urooj Khan, 46, died last summer of natural causes but after further investigation, that ruling was changed to death by cyanide poisoning.

Chicago's $1.6 billion "Plan for Transformation" envisioned public housing in a way that would deconstruct an image of the city's poor all concentrated in huge housing silos.

The idea was to mix public-housing residents with market-rate condos and subsidized rentals or homes, with one-third of each in these new communities.

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In Illinois, basketball is serious business. It's the home of the six-time champion Chicago Bulls, after all. But this next story is about some NBA-sized players at a small suburban high school. A group of boys from Southern Sudan who attend this school went to court for the right to play on the court. And as NPR's Cheryl Corley reports, they've scored a win.

CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: There's nothing like a good tall tale and this involves some serious height.

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There's little doubt that President Obama will win a large majority of the minority vote. Polls this year show the Latino voters supporting him by large margins, and that could make the difference in some swing states. Of course, back in 2008, 95 percent of African-Americans voted for Barack Obama. The key in this election is to get those voters to actually cast their ballots, which is why the president is spending these last days of the campaign reaching out to African-Americans. Here's NPR's Cheryl Corley.

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