Cheryl Corley

Based in NPR's Chicago Bureau, Cheryl Corley travels throughout the Midwest covering issues and events from Ohio to South Dakota as a National Desk reporter.

In recent years, Corley has reported on the political turmoil of Illinois state government surrounding the impeachment and trial of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, the campaign and election of President Barack Obama, the battle over the Senate seat he once held and Chicago's losing effort to land the 2016 Olympics. She reported on the housing boom and bust, on efforts to revamp public housing and a new approach to home building — miniaturization. Her story about designer living in extraordinarily tiny homes on wheels became one of NPR's top emailed stories.

In 2005, Corley was among the group of NPR reporters covering the devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as they tore through the Gulf Coast. Five years later she returned to the area 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, Tell Me More, the weekend edition of All Things Considered 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, with a Bachelor of Arts degree 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 also serves on the board as Acting President of the Association for Women Journalists in Chicago.

Pages

5:39pm

Thu August 23, 2012
Election 2012

Michelle Obama Focuses On Work Still To Be Done

Originally published on Thu August 23, 2012 7:35 pm

First lady Michelle Obama sits with guests as they eat lunch during a kids' state dinner at the White House on Monday.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

This week, first lady Michelle Obama was doing something she loves to do, talking about nutrition with kids. She hosted the first state dinner for children, welcoming 54 of them and their parents to the White House.

"This is the hottest ticket at the White House, right here, because of all of you," Obama said to the children, who ranged in age from 8 to 12.

Read more

6:20am

Sat July 28, 2012
U.S.

Hot, Dry, Tapped Out: Drought Shrivels Fun, Too

Originally published on Sat July 28, 2012 8:57 am

Don't call 'em greens: Some golf courses, such as this one in Syracuse, N.Y., are letting their signature green grass go to brown in an effort to save water.
Dennis Nett The Post-Standard/Landov

The drought that's hit huge swathes of the country is also draining the audiences for outdoor activities.

Just look at the Fox River, about 50 miles southwest of Chicago. Water swirls and plunges over a dam in Yorkville, Ill. Normally there'd be lots of folks canoeing or kayaking here, but not today.

"As you can see most of my canoes are just sitting," says Greg Freeman, the owner of Freeman Sports Shop.

Read more

6:07am

Sun July 8, 2012
Presidential Race

Urgency Reigns At Vote-Focused NAACP Convention

Originally published on Sun July 8, 2012 2:59 pm

The NAACP, the nation's oldest civil rights organization, holds its annual convention in Houston this week. As in any election season, the group is focused on voting rights and voter turnout. But this year, there's another issue that's front of mind: the dramatically high rate of unemployment rate among African-Americans.

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney will address the NAACP convention on Wednesday, and Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to speak the following day. NAACP members are ready to hear their plans.

The Race To Register

Read more

3:01am

Wed June 27, 2012
Law

Exhale, Chicago, A Little Pot May Be Fine(d)

Originally published on Wed June 27, 2012 3:00 pm

In Chicago, nearly nine out of 10 low-level marijuana busts result in a dismissal.
iStockphoto.com

In Chicago, a new policy on marijuana possession would mean adults who are caught with a small amount of the illegal drug would receive a fine instead of being arrested.

It's mostly about money and how best to use police resources.

Under current Illinois law, anyone found with less than about 1 ounce of marijuana can be charged with a misdemeanor. If found guilty, they face up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Read more

3:15am

Wed June 20, 2012
Education

A New Union Battle As Chicago Teachers, Mayor Clash

Originally published on Wed June 20, 2012 8:08 am

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis speaks to reporters after casting her ballot in a strike authorization vote. Teachers voted overwhelmingly to authorize the first strike in 25 years if the city and the union can't come to terms this summer.
M. Spencer Green AP

There hasn't been a school strike in Chicago for 25 years. But the current contract between Chicago teachers and the Chicago Public Schools expires at the end of next week, and tensions between the teachers union, the school district and Mayor Rahm Emanuel are ratcheting higher.

Chicago Teachers Union members outmaneuvered the mayor, school officials and anti-union education groups by overwhelmingly approving a measure that allows teachers to strike if contract negotiations fall flat.

Read more

3:03am

Fri June 8, 2012
Law

After NAACP Marriage Stance, Discord And Discussion

Originally published on Mon June 11, 2012 3:03 pm

The Rev. Ralph Abernathy (from left), the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Bayard Rustin leave the Montgomery (Ala.) County Courthouse in 1956. Rustin, who was gay, was the main organizer of the 1963 March on Washington.
Gene Herrick AP

The NAACP recently took what was for some in the organization a controversial step, when it endorsed same-sex marriage. That move has now led some local officers around the country to resign — including the group's most outspoken critic of gay marriage.

The NAACP board says it stands by its resolution calling for marriage equality. But as the nation's oldest civil rights group prepares for its national convention in July, some in the ranks say the resolution caught them by surprise, and that such an important decision deserved open debate.

Read more

4:20pm

Mon April 23, 2012
History

Discovery Sparks Interest In Forgotten Black Scholar

Originally published on Mon April 23, 2012 7:39 pm

Three years ago, Rufus McDonald found historic documents in an abandoned house and took them to a rare-books dealer. The papers and books belonged to Richard T. Greener, a 19th century intellectual who was the first African-American to graduate from Harvard University.
Cheryl Corley NPR

Three years ago, just moments before sledgehammers ripped through an abandoned home in Chicago, the head of a demolition crew decided to save the contents of an old steamer trunk stored in the attic.

"They were about to demolish it because they couldn't get it down the stairs," says Rufus McDonald, who gathered what was inside the steamer trunk — documents and old books — and took them to a rare-book dealer in Chicago.

"He said, 'Do you know who this is?' I said, 'Nah, who is it?' He said, 'It's Richard Theodore Greener," McDonald recalls. "I said, 'Who is he?' "

Read more

4:27am

Wed April 11, 2012
Remembrances

Tulsa Shooting Victim Had Turned Her Life Around

Dannaer Fields, who went by Donna, is shown in this undated photo. She was one of three people killed in Friday's shootings in Tulsa, Okla.
Courtesy Of News On 6

In Tulsa, Okla., the families of the three victims killed during a shooting rampage Friday are planning funerals. Police say William Allen, 31, Bobby Clark, 54, and Donna Fields, 49, were shot in a predominantly black neighborhood on the north side of Tulsa by two white men.

Fields was walking home after playing a game of dominoes with friends. She was called Donna, but her given name was Dannaer. Her brother Kenneth says she was named after an aunt.

Read more

4:00am

Tue April 10, 2012
Around the Nation

Police: Suspects Confess To Tulsa Shooting Spree

Originally published on Tue April 10, 2012 6:14 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

We're going to spend this part of the program in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where a deadly shooting spree in a black neighborhood has revived memories of a long-ago race riot.

INSKEEP: First, we have an update on the news here. Police in Tulsa confirm that the two men accused of shooting five black people, and killing three, confessed shortly after they were arrested on Sunday.

Read more

2:35am

Mon April 9, 2012
Around the Nation

'Premature' To Call Tulsa Shootings Hate Crimes

Originally published on Mon April 9, 2012 10:15 am

Alvin Watts (left), 33, and Jacob England, 19, were arrested following an appeal to the public to help police solve the five shootings that happened Friday. A police spokesman said the two face three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of shooting with intent to kill.
AFP/Getty Images

Police in Tulsa, Okla., say it is much too early in their investigation to describe the murder of three black residents and the wounding of two others as a hate crime. Two men were arrested early Sunday morning and are expected to face charges of first-degree murder and shooting with intent to kill.

Soon after Friday's shooting, authorities reached out to the public for help. Police Maj. Walter Evans, the head of a task force looking into the murders, says information started pouring in shortly after that.

Read more

4:57am

Mon March 19, 2012
Election 2012

Jesse Jackson Jr. Makes Final Push To Win Primary

Originally published on Mon March 19, 2012 9:06 am

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife, Chicago alderman Sandi Jackson, ask each other for their support and votes as they arrive at a polling station for early voting in Chicago on March 9.
M. Spencer Green AP

The next primary election takes place in President Obama's home state of Illinois on Tuesday. While Republicans are looking to capture delegates in the presidential race, there are several House races on the ballot — mostly due to redistricting.

In one of the most closely watched of those races, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is facing a challenge from fellow Democrat and former Rep. Debbie Halvorson.

Read more

12:01am

Thu March 15, 2012
Race

Voters May Break Up Fight Over 'Fighting Sioux'

Originally published on Thu March 15, 2012 8:34 am

The University of North Dakota's Brad Eidsness makes a save during a game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Since 2005, there have been a series of lawsuits and legislative actions over the nickname for the school's athletic teams, the "Fighting Sioux."
Josh Holmberg AP

The state Supreme Court in North Dakota is about to consider this question: Can lawmakers require a college to name its sports teams after a Native American tribe?

For decades, University of North Dakota teams have been known as the "Fighting Sioux." It's a name some see as an honor and others find demeaning. Now, the long fight over the Fighting Sioux may be settled in a courtroom.

2,400 Logos And A 'Vexing' Dispute

Read more

4:00am

Thu March 1, 2012
Around the Nation

Residents Try To Recover From Midwest Storms

Originally published on Thu March 1, 2012 12:18 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We're going next to the town of Harrisburg, Illinois, one of many Midwestern towns struck by tornados. Harrisburg suffered the most of those towns. The tornado killed six people, with winds of up to 170 miles per hour. NPR's Cheryl Corley is there.

Read more

3:49am

Tue January 24, 2012
Around the Nation

Online Lottery Could Be Coming To A State Near You

Several states — including Illinois and New York — are now pushing forward with plans to offer lotteries on the Internet.
iStockphoto.com

Several states — including Illinois and New York — are now pushing forward with plans to offer lotteries on the Internet. That's in the aftermath of an opinion from the Justice Department, which reverses a long-standing policy and says states are free to conduct online gambling within their borders.

Read more

3:00pm

Tue December 27, 2011
Business

At Least 100 Sears, Kmart Stores To Close

Sears Holdings announced Tuesday it will shutter at least 100 stores as a cost-cutting measure following a disappointing holiday season. The retailer's namesake Sears and Kmart stores have struggled against competitors such as Wal-Mart, Target and Home Depot. Sears says it will save as much as $170 million through the store closings. It did not say how many employees will lose their jobs.

12:01am

Fri December 23, 2011
Still No Job: Over A Year Without Enough Work

For Black Americans, A Longer Time Without Work

Originally published on Fri December 23, 2011 11:32 am

Willa Booker, 53, has been out of work for more than two years. A former medical records administrator in Chicago, Booker says she just wants someone to give her a chance.
Cheryl Corley NPR

Although the U.S. gained more than 120,000 jobs last month, the numbers of long-term unemployed barely shifted, and unemployment rates for African-Americans continued to go through the roof.

A recent NPR and Kaiser Family Foundation poll shows that although the long-term unemployed face many of the same difficulties regardless of race, there are distinct differences between blacks and whites struggling to find work.

Read more

4:00am

Thu December 8, 2011
U.S.

Blagojevich's 14-Year Term Starts In February

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been sentenced to 14 years in federal prison following his bribery and extortion convictions. He is expected to begin serving the sentence in February.

4:00am

Tue December 6, 2011
U.S.

Blagojevich Sentencing Hearing Starts

Originally published on Tue December 6, 2011 8:21 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

The public corruption saga of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is nearing an end. Earlier this year, he was found guilty of 18 counts of corruption, including trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat once held by President Obama. Today, a federal judge begins a hearing to determine Blagojevich's sentence. NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.

Read more

3:00pm

Wed November 30, 2011
NPR Story

Occupy Chicago: A 'Dry Run' For Upcoming Events

In Chicago, city officials and demonstrators say the recent Occupy Chicago protests are a sort of dry run for next year's simultaneous NATO and G-8 summit meetings.

12:14am

Sun November 13, 2011
Crisis In The Housing Market

Would-Be Sellers Become Reluctant Landlords

Many homeowners find they can't sell their homes so instead they reluctantly become landlords.
courtneyk iStockphoto.com

In this sagging economy, homes can sit on the market for weeks or months. So, would-be sellers often move on, and instead of handing the keys over to new owners, they hand them to tenants. Sometimes that goes well — sometimes not.

"This is the new reality," says Chicago Realtor Frank Maguire. "Our market is, you might sell your home or you might not. There's a whole world of people who are unintentional landlords."

Read more

5:40am

Mon October 31, 2011
Election 2012

Black, Latino Shifts In Chicago Lead To Map Flap

Originally published on Mon October 31, 2011 8:44 pm

iStockphoto.com

It's been map-drawing time all across the country, as cities and states create new districts for state lawmakers, members of Congress and city council members based on 2010 Census numbers.

In Chicago, where African-Americans left in droves during the past decade and the Latino population rose, leaders are redrawing the boundaries of the city's 50 wards. What's at stake is representation and political clout.

Population Changes

Read more

3:00pm

Wed October 12, 2011
Law

Cook County Investigates Gacy Cold Cases

The Cook County sheriff's office in Illinois has launched a new effort to identify eight unidentified victims of mass murderer John Wayne Gacy. The department wants relatives of men who disappeared between 1970 and 1978 to participate in saliva tests to compare their DNA with that of the victims' bones.

5:05pm

Thu September 29, 2011
Animals

Chicago-Area Skunk Population Raises A Stink

Originally published on Thu September 29, 2011 6:15 pm

This small juvenile skunk was caught by Des Plaines, Ill., homeowner Richard Kaulback. He says there have always been raccoons and opossums in the Chicago area, but this year, skunks have become prolific.
Cheryl Corley NPR

12:01am

Thu September 22, 2011
Media

'Ebony,' 'Jet' Parent Takes A Bold New Tack

Circulation figures for Johnson Publishing's flagship Ebony and Jet magazines is up substantially in recent months.
NPR

Johnson Publishing Company, the black American icon based in Chicago, is hiring. It's a sharp turnaround for a company that saw circulation numbers and revenue for its flagship Ebony and Jet magazines plummet over a number of years. Those numbers are on the rise now, and company officials say questions about Johnson Publishing's ability to survive the turmoil in the media industry are no longer relevant.

Read more

12:01am

Tue August 23, 2011
Politics

Rahm Emanuel's First 100 Days As Mayor: 'I Love This'

Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel served two presidents, represented Illinois in Congress, and on Tuesday, will mark his 100th day as mayor of Chicago. He promised early to put his own mark on Chicago as he took on the city's challenges. Some think he's succeeding.

In the anteroom at City Hall, Emanuel is surrounded by Chicago memorabilia. A few books about Chicago sit near caps of the city's sports teams. The new mayor says he has no regrets about leaving the national stage.

Read more

5:00am

Fri August 5, 2011
Crime In The City

P.I. Kelly: Hot On The Trail Of Crime In Chicago

Originally published on Tue June 26, 2012 11:10 am

Michael Harvey's novels focus on cop-turned-P.I. Michael Kelly and his life and work in the Windy City.
Citizen Erased! via Flikr

Michael Harvey has had a panoply of careers. He's been a lawyer and an investigative journalist; he's co-creator of A&E's real-cop TV series, Cold Case Files; and, these days, Harvey is also writing crime novels that show off the grit and the glitz of Chicago.

Read more

3:29pm

Thu July 28, 2011
Around the Nation

In Chicago, A Test Of Wills Over A Budget Deficit

Rahm Emanuel celebrated with supporters at the Journeymen Plumbers' Union Local 130 Hall after winning the mayoral election in February. Now, Emanuel is in a test of wills with unions over closing the city's massive budget gap.
Scott Olson Getty Images

In Washington, congressional leaders and the White House are in a financial fight that's being watched around the world. But outside the Beltway, in cities large and small, mayors are grappling with their own economic challenges.

In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is no stranger to tough negotiations. And, fresh from his second stint as a White House adviser, that's where he finds himself now.

Read more

5:23pm

Wed June 15, 2011
History

Places In Peril: 2011's Most Endangered Historic Sites

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:45 am

Isaac Manchester Farm in Avella, Pa.
National Trust for Historic Preservation

On Wednesday, the National Trust for Historic Preservation released its latest list of places the trust considers the most endangered in the country. The list of 11 includes a Chicago hospital; a jazz musician's home; and a plant in Minneapolis that was once the world's most advanced flour mill.

Read more

8:00am

Sat May 28, 2011
Around the Nation

At The Center Of The Storm, Trackers Stay On Guard

Right in tornado alley, the staff at the National Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. keep a constant watch on the skies. The weather experts track signs of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes and issue the first alerts. This week's harrowing weather even had some of the storm center's staff heading for shelter. NPR's Cheryl Corley reports.

5:14am

Tue May 24, 2011
Around the Nation

The 'Oprah Show' Gave Chicago Cache

Oprah Winfrey's last new show airs Wednesday. Chicago will miss its iconic talk show host. She gave Chicago cache, not to mention jobs at her Harpo studio and loads of visitors.

Pages