by Eric A Thomas
A local radio personality and contributor to The Source has been recognized for his work with the area chapter of Illinois State Crime Stoppers Association.
Ben Cox was recognized at the 34th annual training meeting and Illinois Crime Stoppers Conference in Schaumburg. The conference took place at the end of April and Morgan, Scott & Cass Counties Crime Stoppers Coordinator Loren Hamilton was present to accept the honor on behalf of Cox. On a side note, Hamilton was re-elected president of the Crime Stoppers Association for the 7th time. Upon return, Hamilton presented the honor to Cox at the WLDS/WEAI radio station.
Cox was approached in July 2021 to do a podcast/videocast for the local Morgan, Scott & Cass Counties Crime Stoppers by Hamilton and former local president Bill Martel. “This podcast would cover unsolved cases in West Central Illinois but would be out on a national level wherever people can listen to podcasts,” commented Cox.
According to Cox, “The podcast was honored for its overall work.” The last episode was in August 2022; however, Cox is working on some fresh ideas that he hopes he will be able to implement and pass on for a current member of the local group to take over.
The local Crime Stoppers wanted a way to extend their reach in getting information out to the public, especially to those people who had moved out of the area. Cox continued, “They had the Crime Stoppers app, social media presence and their website. … The popularity of podcast and the use of YouTube video had been growing and they saw this as a possible avenue to help solve open cases.”
The most popular podcast that Cox has produced involved the 2009 disappearance of Christina Whittaker from Hannibal, Missouri. One of the persons of interest had an outstanding warrant in Morgan County. “This particular episode had over 200 downloads and even some from out of the country,” he noted. “True Crime podcasts are very popular right now and have become instrumental in helping to bring a resolution to many open cases.”
During the course of running the Crime Stoppers podcast, Cox would feature 10 to 15 unsolved cases per episode and 30 to 40 “Most Wanted” individuals. “One of the most satisfying things I got was from a few people who were victims/family members involved in the crimes that I featured,” concluded Cox. “They thanked me personally for shedding light on these crimes that were/are seeing little traction, at least public, on being solved. That was my ultimate goal for the whole thing, bringing closure to some of the families.”
Cox resides with his fiancée Katy Coates and his five children in Jacksonville. He is the host of “What’s on Your Mind” on WLDS, which airs Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10:30-11 a.m.; “The Sunday Morning Blues Brunch” on WEAI on Sundays from 7-9 a.m.; and is co-editor for WLDS/WEAI news.