The events of the last year have reshaped society, from the global pandemic to the nationwide movement for racial justice to a historic election where many said “democracy was on the ballot.” 

To chart where Chicago goes next after this inflection point, WBEZ 91.5 FM’s daily talk show Reset is joining forces with the University of Chicago’s Center for Effective Government based at the Harris School of Public Policy to present Re-Imagine Chicago. This new series, running May through August on WBEZ, will investigate how institutions and systems operate in Chicago today and how they might work better to better serve residents of Chicago in the future.


The series will re-imagine how Chicago can work to lift up residents, improve civic engagement and enhance quality of life. Daily and weekly segments will feature in-depth discussions with academics, innovators and public servants to explore four core topic areas for Chicagoans: City government, financial investment, public safety and schools. 

WBEZ host Sasha-Ann Simons will lead the Re-Imagine Chicago conversations on Reset. Simons joined WBEZ in December 2020, coming from Washington, D.C.’s NPR member station WAMU 88.5 where she most recently served as substitute host and national correspondent for the national radio show 1A and where she previously covered race, identity and economic mobility as a reporter.

“Throughout the Re-Imagine Chicago series, we’ll hear directly from people making the decisions in our city. Listeners will get to weigh in with their questions, ideas, and experiences,” said Simons. “We’ll also check in with people working and living in other cities around the country and the world to ask ourselves, ‘Could what’s working there work here in Chicago?’”

The series marks the first collaboration between WBEZ and the Center for Effective Government, a nonpartisan academic initiative to strengthen democratic institutions and improve the capacity of government to solve public problems by bringing together partners and stakeholders from research, government, advocacy, and media. 

Professor William Howell

“We couldn’t be more excited to embark on this ambitious and essential project with WBEZ,” said Professor William Howell, director of the Center and the Sydney Stein Professor of American Politics at the Harris School and chair of the University’s political science department.

Reset airs weekdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and streams live on and the WBEZ app, providing a daily conversation that keeps Chicagoans connected to each other, to newsmakers, and to the top stories of the day during midday listening hours. The show strives to reflect the complexity of the city and region and to connect deeply with the many diverse communities WBEZ serves. For example, its Closing The Gap series digs into racial and socioeconomic disparities that exist in the Chicago area around issues like life expectancy, food security and access to mental healthcare, and hears from people working to close those gaps.

Center for Effective Government

"Re-Imagine Chicago is an opportunity to brainstorm together about how our city and region can work better for residents," said Dan Tucker, executive producer of Reset. "We'll explain how our institutions and systems work today, explore creative solutions for improving them, and present those ideas to Chicago public servants and changemakers for their consideration.”

Listeners can follow the Re-Imagine Chicago series on social media channels including @WBEZ, @WBEZreset and @UChicagoCEG on Twitter. Additionally, throughout the summer WBEZ will be hosting a series of live events to further discuss. A capstone event, hosted by the Center for Effective Government, will take place after the conclusion of the series in September. Visit and to keep up to date on the latest event information.