About Us

Smile Politely is Champaign-Urbana's independent, online, culture magazine. We provide the community with a passionate, trustworthy, informed point of view on local music, art, culture, sports, and food & drink. Our writers range in age from college undergrads to fifty-somethings, and with that diversity comes a wide array of political, cultural, social, and artistic bents, as well as an impressive wealth of experiences from which to reference. Such variety accurately reflects the hodgepodge that is Champaign-Urbana, a university town with a decidedly Midwestern flair. Smile Politely's editorial staff immerses itself in the community it calls home, and our writers' coverage of events reflects that dedication.

We won’t pretend that we don’t possess and cultivate a particular aesthetic and personality. That’s what it means to be independent. We have our biases, and we’re unapologetic about them. And our strongest bias is that we think Champaign-Urbana is one of the best places to live in the U.S. We prove this every day at Smile Politely.

So, whatever entertains you, informs you, excites you, or frustrates you is all likely to be covered in our magazine. And if it's not, let us know. We're always open to suggestions that further expand our coverage. But of more importantance is our founding principle: Smile Politely exists as a platform where you — the reader — can help to shape what the magazine is all about. We welcome your contributions, and want to read about what YOU have to say.

Housekeeping note: Although we do allow anonymous commenting, we reserve the right to delete/redact any and all comments, depending on the nature of the comment. Let's keep things within reason, folks.


Jessica Hammie
Food & Drink Editor
Jess on Twitter

Maddie Rehayem
Music Editor
Maddie on Twitter

Mathew Green
Arts Editor

Patrick Singer
Managing Editor / Social Media
Patrick on Twitter

Rebecah Pulsifer
News & Culture Editor / Host, Smile Politely Radio

Sam Logan
Photo Editor
Sam on Twitter

Seth Fein
Publisher and Co-Founder
Seth on Twitter

Mason Kessinger 
Designer and Co-Founder

Christopher Maier 
Editor-in-Chief Emeritus and Co-Founder


Justine Bursoni

Katie Prosise
Senior Writer

Laren Pike

Sean O'Connor

Sean Purvines
Host, Smile Politely Radio

Current Writers

Adam Barnett
Alan Pocaro
Alyssa Schoeneman
Amanda Murphyao
Amelia Bowen
Andrea Johnston
Andrew Voris
Anna Barnes
Annalisa Rodriguez
Annie Weisner
Azra Halilovic
Ben Valocchi
Bob Finch
Bob Yoon
Brenda Koenig
Brendan Denison
Brian Dolinar
Brian Mertz
Brian Sullivan
Carmen Shaffer
Cheryl Barnett
C.E. Brown
Chike Coleman
Chris Maier
Chris Willis
Claire Melvin
Community Comment
Crystall Pratt & Daniel Wolff
Cynthia Hoyle
Dan Schreiber
Daniel Wolff
David Kierski
Don Gerard
Dusty Lawless
Dylan Heath
Emily Siner
Eric Stoff
Eric Bussell
Food Writers
Gibson Wirth
Grace R. Kenney
Hannah Pitstick
isaac arms
Jamal Collier
James Kilgore
Jamilah Alsharif
Jason Brown
Jay Rosenstein
Jeff Kohmstedt
Jeff Nelson
Jeff Zolitor
Jeremiah Stanley
Jesse Woodrum
Jillian Klean Zwilling
Jingrui Lu
JoAnne Cammarata
Jon Stone
Joshua George
Julianne Heuel
Kathy Decker
Katie Baldwin
Katrina Halfaker
Kaya DeFehr
Kelly Hearne
Kim Nguyen
Kirby Jayes
Latifah Al-Hazza
Laura Adamczyk
Laura Stein
Lauren Laws
Linda Remaker
Liz Stanley
Liz Benoit & Jeremiah Stanley
Liz Faermark
Logan Burgett
Madeline Knight-Dixon
Maggie Labno
Mark Laughlin
Marsha Reardon
Matthis Helmick
Megan Laz
Mike Coulter
Mike Ingram
Monique Archer
Music Editors
Noah Roberts
P. Gregory Springer
Paul Dudley and Bonnie Dudley
Paul Young
Rachel Buller
Rhiannon Peery
Rob McColley
Robert Hirschfeld and Joel Gillespie
Robert Hirschfeld and Matt Campbell
Ryan A. Ross
Sarah Boyer
Sarah Langer
Scott Humphrey
Smile Politely Editors
Smile Politely Writers
Stories & Beer
Susanna Kline
T. McDade
Tara McGovern
Taylor Polydore
The Market Watcher
Thom Schnarre
Thomas Nelshoppen
Tim Green
Tom Pauly
Tony Pomonis
Vicki Hoskins
Wendy Edwards
William Gillespie

Editor Emeriti

Caleb Curtiss
Social Media

Cody Caudill

Joel Gillespie

Jason Brown
Host, Smile Politely Radio

John Steinbacher
Music Editor / Host, Smile Politely Radio

Robert Hirschfeld

Tracy Nectoux
Editor-in-Chief (January 2010-July 2013)

Inactive Writers

A.B. Koontz
Aaron Burch
Abram Book
Adam Fein
Adam Scott
Alexx Engles
Alisa DeMarco
Amanda Shively
Amy Lingafelter
Andrew Ang
Angela Delgado
Anthony Collebrusco
Beth Dillman
Beth Dillman and Scott Weber
Betsi Freeman
Bob Steltman
Brandon Beachum
Brian Duggan
Brian Kagel
Brian McGovern
Brian Reed
Brit Johnson
Brittany Patch
Brock Peoples
C.G. Estabrook
Caitlin Cremer
Carly Doenges
Carlye Wisel
Carolyn Muller
Christopher Evans
Chuck Koplinski
Clint Popetz
Cody Bralts
Collin A. Bullock
Coy Wentworth
Cristy Scoggins
Dan Hill
Dan Kelly
David Cubberly
David Wright
Donnie Ferguson
Doug Hoepker
Edward Moses
Elaine Olson
Ellyn Newell
Elyse Russo
Emily Miller
emma reaux
Eric Blair
Eric Heisig
Erik Allgood
Erin Gillman
Erin Hayes
Ernie Blackwelder & Cynthia Voelkl
gillian gabriel
Gordon Oyer
Grant Benda
Grant Deam
Heather Dillon
I. I.
Jack Tatterson
Jaclyn Smith
Jake Lahne
Jake Thomas
James Treichler
Jamie Newell
Jared Collins
Jason Berg
Jason Brechin
Jean Forst
Jenna Weglarz-Ward
Jennifer Knapp
John E. Marlin
John Flanagan
John Johnson
John Menchaca
Joni Jeffries
Josh King
Joshi Fullop
Justin Hemenway
Justin McLeod
Justine Fein-Bursoni
Katie Travers
Kelly Innes
Kelly James Shirley
Kimberly Leifker
Kristiana Burtness
Kristin McCann
Kyle Patterson
Larry Larson
Laura Allured
Laura Allured and Ray Mitchell
Laura Bandy
Laura Czys
Lena Hann
Lena Singer
Lilly Bralts-Kelly
Lindsay Ignatowski
Lindsey Gates-Markel
Lindy Wheatley
Lisa Bralts-Kelly
Lisa Janes
Liz Jackson
Logan Moore
Marissa Monson
Mark Sieckman
Matt Fender
Matthew Campbell
Matthew DeMarco
Meghan Whalen
Mica Swyers
Michael Curtin
Michael Feltes
Neal Rauhauser
Neil Parthun
North 1st St Farmers Market
Pamela Saunders
Pat Brown
Pat Schmitz
Patrick McCarthy
Paul Barrel
Paul Higgins
Phyllis Dey
Rachael Dietkus-Miller
Rachael McMillan
Ray Mitchell
Richard Anderson
Robert Knilands
Rose Marshack
Ross Floyd
Ryan Brokamp
Ryan Neaveill
Safiya Noble
Samantha Bakall
Samantha Lee
Samuel R. Vandegrift
Sarah Lubelski
Scott Frankel
Seth Valentine
Sheri Williamson
Sidney Sheehan
Stuart Tarr
Suhail Barot
Suzanne Lewandowski
Suzanne Trupin, M.D.
Teen Awareness Group
The Exilers
The Parasolorians
Theo Long
Thom Herakovich
Thomas Cyrs
Thomas Gould
Tim Brookes
Tim Hayden
Tim Schreiber
Todd Spinner
Tommy Griscom
Tony Cherolis
Tricia Scully
Troy Brundidge
Valera Chekmazov
Vern Fein
Vincent Pham
Will Fernandez
William Gillespie and C.D. Scoggins
Zack Adcock
Zack Grant