Older people and opioids/Author Andrea Pitzer

older woman with cane taking pills 600 x 340.jpg

What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, February 13, 2018:

The number of Americans dying of opioid overdoses continues to rise. It has been accurately described as a crisis and an epidemic.  The increasing number of opioid overdose deaths has been declared a national emergency by President Trump and a state emergency by Governor Wolf.

But the crisis has also been thought of as something that just affects young people.  However, nearly 42,000 Americans over the age of 45 died from an opioid overdose in 2016.  That’s about 42% of all overdose deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Tuesday’s Smart Talk focuses on what the Pennsylvania Department of Aging calls the hidden epidemic of substance abuse in older Pennsylvanians.

Appearing on the program are Pennsylvania Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne and Dr. Ming Wang, an addiction medicine physician at Caron Treatment Centers.

For more on the opioid epidemic visit WITF’s Transforming Health.

Sec. Osborne & Dr. Wing.png

PA Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne & Dr. Ming Wang

Pitzer book.jpg

Also, when most people picture concentration camps, their first thoughts are of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.  Unfortunately, those concentration camps in Europe before and during World War II are not the only examples of people suffering captivity because of their religion, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity or political beliefs.

That’s according to renowned author Andrea Pitzer in her latest book One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps. Pitzer joins us on Tuesday’s Smart Talk to discuss the book that Smithsonian Magazine named one of the Ten Best History books of 2017.

Andrea Pitzer also appears at Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

PA Farmers and NAFTA/Dairy herds being sold


What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, February 12, 2018:

Pennsylvania farmers are wary of President Trump’s threat to withdraw the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA with Mexico and Canada.  Throughout his campaign, Trump called NAFTA a bad deal for the U.S.  Now the president seems intent on renegotiating NAFTA.

37% of foreign agricultural export products from Pennsylvania go to Mexico and Canada and Pennsylvania has gained 1.5 million farm-related jobs since NAFTA’s implementation in 1994.  So, the state’s farmers have a huge stake in a new trade agreement or eliminating NAFTA altogether.

Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Rick Ebert has expressed the need for NAFTA’s strong agricultural component and he explains on Monday’s Smart Talk.

Rick Ebert.png

Rick Ebert, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President

Meanwhile, while Pennsylvania has the second most dairy farms in the country — second only to Wisconsin — more farmers are getting out of the dairy business.  The state lost 120 dairy farms in 2016.

There are several reasons including a steady decline in milk consumption in the U.S. since the 1970s, milk production growing in other countries and regulated milk prices.

What does the future look like for Pennsylvania’s dairy industry?

That’s the question we’ll discuss on Monday’s Smart Talk with Jayne Sebright, Executive Director of Center for Dairy Excellence and David Smith, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association.

Jayne Sebright and David Smith.png

Jayne Sebright, Executive Director of Center for Dairy Excellence and David Smith, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association.

TMI closing an opportunity for renewables?/StateImpact PA expansion/Author George Saunders


What to look for on Smart Talk Friday, February 9, 2018:

Last May, the Exelon Corporation announced it would be closing its Three Mile Island Generating Station in the fall of 2019.  The Fortune 100 energy company is citing overburdensome regulation and exclusion from Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard as cause to close the historic nuclear plant.

The two-unit power plant came online in 1974 and became a household word in 1979 following the release of radioactive reactor coolant and a partial meltdown.

Guest Mark Szybist with the National Resource Defense Council says that now is the time for Pennsylvania to scale up renewable energy programs like wind and solar to fill the void left by the reduction in nuclear energy demand.  Will Pennsylvania see this as an opportunity or stayed grounded in the debate.

Untitled design (26).png

Mark Szybist, National Resource Defense Council

StateImpact Pennsylvania is a collaboration between WITF, WHYY, WESA and the Allegheny Front covering the commonwealth’s energy economy.  The partnership produces multimedia reports on the energy industry, the economic and environmental impact of energy choices, and how energy production affects the health of citizens and communities.  StateImpact Pennsylvania recently expanded with the help of a major grant from the Corporation of Public Broadcasting.

We’ll learn more about that expansion with Scott Blanchard, Editor, StateImpact Pennsylvania.

Untitled design (27).png

Scott Blanchard, Editor, StateImpact Pennsylvania

Best-selling author George Saunders is appearing at Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg Friday night.  His latest book is a historical fiction novel entitled Lincoln in the Bardo.  Saunders talks about the book on Friday’s program.

George Saunders.png

George Saunders, best-selling author, http://www.georgesaundersbooks.com/



PA sues over net neutrality/Stock market volatility

internet with lock 600 x 340.jpg

What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, February 8, 2018:

The average person on the street may not be able to explain net neutrality because they may or may not have come up against limitations when they logged on to the internet to view their favorite websites.

The Federal Communication Commission voted in December to repeal rules that regulated the broadband industry.  Those rules had been put in place under the Obama Administration.  They kept internet service providers from interfering with internet traffic or speeds and favoring some sites over others.  Republicans, who are in the majority on the FCC, said the rules were burdensome regulations to providers like Comcast and Verizon and restricted investment in infrastructure.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro was one of 22 attorneys general who filed suit claiming consumers would be harmed by possible rising prices and limited choices of websites.

Attorney General Shapiro explains on Thursday’s Smart Talk.

Josh Shapiro.png

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro

Also, the record-smashing rise in the stock market over the past year or so came to an abrupt halt last Friday and Monday when the Down Jones Industrial Average lost 666 points one day and 1,175 the next.  The market did bounce back later in the week, but it left many investors and 401K holders nervous about the market’s ups and downs.

On Thursday’s Smart Talk, we discuss what’s behind the volatility with Scott Ehrig, Co-Chief Investment Officer with FMA Advisory.

Scott Ehrig.png

Scott Ehrig, Co-Chief Investment Officer with FMA Advisory

Analysis of Wolf budget proposal

wolf 5.png

On the Wednesday February 7th, 2018 edition of WITF’s Smart Talk:

The Pennsylvania governor’s budget address every February is often viewed as a “state-of-the-state” speech and provides insight into a governor’s priorities by what and how the chief executive wants to spend.

A budget proposal made in a year when the governor is running for re-election usually doesn’t contain many bombshells or requests for large amounts of new spending.

In his fourth budget address that comes in an election year, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf Tuesday proposed a budget that would increase spending by a billion dollars or about 3%.  At the same time, Wolf is not asking for a personal income or sales tax increase.  He does want a severance tax on natural gas drilling — something he has campaigned for without success in his previous three budgets.

Gov. Wolf plans to use the additional money for public schools, skills training, pension obligations, prison costs and social services for children, older Pennsylvanians and those living with a disability.  Wolf also is proposing an increase in the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour.

Republicans, who control both the House and Senate, responded less than favorably to the idea of spending more money and have been cool to a severance tax, saying the state already imposes an impact fee on drillers.  However, budget negotiations this year will be conducted against the backdrop of all House seats and half the Senate up for election too.

On Wednesday’s Smart Talk, we break down the governor’s budget proposal with Franklin and Marshall College political analyst Dr. G. Terry Madonna and take your questions and comments about the state’s fiscal status moving into the new year.

terry madonna.png

G. Terry Madonna, director of Franklin & Marshall College’s Center for Politics and Public Affairs



Don Voigt, Antarctic Man

dv 3.png

Don Voigt

On the Tuesday February 6th, 2018 edition of WITF’s Smart Talk:

Don Voigt doesn’t mind the cold at all.  He has spent eighteen seasons over the last twenty-two years researching ice in Antarctica.  Voigt is a senior research associate at Penn State; the navy veteran has a background in geology, but shifted gears in the 90’s and began to focus on researching ice flow and environmental trending based on ice core samples.

Antarctica is largely ignored by most; the continent stores 70% of the Earth’s fresh water, it boasts mountain ranges to rival the Rockies and is covered by ice more than a mile thick.  The Vostok research station once recorded a temperature of -128⁰ F.   4,000 scientists work during the summer season, about a thousand stick around for the brutal winter months.  The first human didn’t set foot on Antarctica until 1821.

On the Tuesday edition of Smart Talk, we speak with Voigt about spending three months of the year on a desolate continent where the temperature rarely exceeds -15⁰ F, the isolation from the world and the camaraderie of the research community and the warning signs he sees regarding the changing global climate.

dv 1.png



Trusting News – the process/Congressional Districting/Keeping those with cognitive disorders safe

trust peeled back 600 x 340.jpg

What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, February 5, 2018:

WITF is taking part in the Trusting News project — an effort to create strategies designed to demonstrate the credibility and trustworthiness of journalism.  One of the main tenants of the project is to explain the editorial process.  WITF’s Multimedia News Director Tim Lambert wrote about just that in how the station’s news department reported on the tragic shooting death of Deputy U.S. Marshal Christopher Hill in Harrisburg two weeks ago.

Tim appears on Monday’s Smart Talk to discuss Trusting News and the editorial process in this particular instance.

tim lambert 2.png

WITF News Director Tim Lambert

Later, state GOP leaders have sought an emergency intervention from the US Supreme Court to hold up the state’s Supreme Court ruling that congressional district lines drawn in 2011 offer an unfair advantage to Republican congressional candidates.  Attorneys representing the state Republican party allege one of the state Supreme Court judges exhibited bias due to remarks made previously and should be disqualified from rendering an opinion.  Keystone Crossroads reporter Emily Previti will discuss the latest iteration on the state’s congressional district dispute.

Emily Previti.png

Keystone Crossroads reporter Emily Previti

Also, it’s not unusual to hear about people living with cognitive disabilities wandering away from home, which leaves their family members terrified for their well-being.  These cases usually involve young people and adults who place somewhere on the autism spectrum; people with emotional disorders that cause confusion or disorientation and older people dealing with Alzheimer’s or other cognitive disorders.

Project Lifesaver is a program that provides people with cognitive disorders like autism or bipolarity with radio transmitter devices that send a signal to public safety officials.  Should the person become missing, they are easily locatable by police or health care officials.

The Pilot Club of Lancaster launched a local program in 2012.  There are currently 21 Lancaster Countians involved with Project Lifesaver.

Monteleone Breslin Pugliese.png

Chief Mark Pugliese of the West Hempfield Township Police Department, parent Amy Breslin, and Pilot Club co-coordinator Gail Monteleone

On Monday’s Smart Talk, we will discuss the risks facing cognitively disabled Pennsylvanians and how this project adds a layer of safety to their well-being with Pilot Club co-coordinator  and Chief Mark Pugliese of the West Hempfield Township Police Department.  We will also speak with Amy Breslin, an area parent of twin ten-year-old boys who were both helped by the Project Lifesaver program.

Underage Drinking / World Cancer Day


On the Friday February 2nd, 2018 edition of WITF’s Smart Talk:

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is taking proactive measures to help parents educate children about underage drinking.  The program, called ‘Know When, Know How’ targets youths between 8 and 12 years old and helps parents to address the awkwardness of a conversation about alcohol.  The campaign will include traditional broadcast commercials in addition to a heavy digital presence focusing on facts and statistics and information for parents on how to discuss alcohol with their kids.

Research from the Journal of Adolescent Health shows “one in three kids has tried alcohol by age 8, and at age 12 that number grows to two out of three.”  Additional research indicates that people who begin drinking in their early teens will be more susceptible to dependency later in life.

“Parents can play a critical role in educating their children on how to make decisions that lead to a safe and healthy life from a young age,” said Ellen DiDomenico, acting deputy secretary for the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs. “This campaign will empower parents to take an active role in helping their children make informed, safe, and responsible decisions as they grow and move into high school, college, and adulthood.”

On Friday’s Smart Talk, we’ll discuss the scope of underage drinking in the commonwealth and PLCB programs to curb it with DiDomenico and Elizabeth Brassell, director of communications with the Board.

Underage Drinking.png

Ellen DiDomenico, acting deputy secretary for the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs and Elizabeth Brassell, director of communications with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

Also, this Sunday is World Cancer Day, as declared by the Union for International Cancer Control.  February 4th has been designated as a day to bring awareness to all forms of cancer afflicting all people on every continent.  8 million people die every year from cancer-related illness, that number is projected to jump to 13 million in twelve years if cancer research and treatment isn’t expanded in the coming years.

Smart Talk will talk about World Cancer Day and efforts to spread awareness in the region with Dr. John Heymach of the Department of Thoracic Head and Neck Medical Oncology at the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas.


Road Trip to Civil War Museum: Black History Month

Civil Rights' 600 x 340.jpg

What to look for on Smart Talk, Thursday, February 1, 2018:

It’s a Smart Talk Road Trip Thursday to the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg to mark the first day of Black History Month.

During the show, we’ll be focusing on a new documentary film that will air next week on WITF-TV about African-American history, how the National Civil War Museum tells the stories of African-Americans and a threatre group that uses theatre to portray African-American history and culture.

The African-American Oral History Project: Part One traces history from the Civil War to today.  It highlights several significant black figures with ties to Central Pennsylvania.  They include former Congressman Robert Smalls and Ephraim Slaughter, who was prominent in Harrisburg after the Civil War.

The film’s producer, writer and director, a historian and descendent of one of the men portrayed in the documentary will all appear on Smart Talk.

Also, not long ago, Civil War- themed museums focused almost entirely on the military aspects of the war.  Since its inception, the National Civil Museum in Harrisburg told the stories of the whole war, including the role of slavery as a cause for the war.

Wayne Motts-CEO, National Civil War Museum joins us the program to describe how the museum talks about slavery.

Telling the story of and establishing African-Americans as an important and vital part of the community through theatre is the goal of the Sankofa African-American Theatre in Harrisburg. 

Sharia Benn, Managing Director-Sankofa African American Theatre is with us as well.