Pipelines and fear, AARP studies loneliness and the novel ‘An American Marriage’

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What to look for on Smart Talk Friday, September 28, 2018:

Pennsylvania is in the midst of a pipeline-building boom, and the Mariner East 2 natural gas liquids line is set to come online soon. With it, there is controversy — and fear. WITF’s StateImpact Pennsylvania reporter Marie Cusick covers pipeline construction and energy issues in Pennsylvania, and she found that fear is a common thread in the neighborhoods and communities where pipelines are constructed. Marie Cusick is on Smart Talk to discuss how perceived risk and fear are impacting people in pipeline construction zones.

A new survey from the AARP Foundation found that one in three U.S. adults age 45 and older are lonely. Although this ratio has not changed since an earlier study in 2010, there are nearly five million more adults in this age category than before because of a growth within the population. The survey found that unpaid caregivers, low-income individuals, and those who identify as LGBTQ are at increased risk for chronic loneliness. Joining us on Smart Talk to discuss the survey and ways to combat loneliness is Lisa Marsh Ryerson, president, AARP Foundation.

The novel An American Marriage by Tayari Jones is the WITF September ‘Pick of the Month.‘ Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of the American Dream but they are ripped apart when Roy is arrested for a crime his wife knows he didn’t commit. Jones will make an appearance at The Midtown Scholar Bookstore during the Harrisburg Book Festival on Thursday, October 11. She will lead a discussion on the book, answer audience questions and conduct a book signing. Friday on Smart Talk, we’re joined by author Tayari Jones.

Battling Opioids Day 3 and F&M poll

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What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, September 27, 2018:

Don’t miss the broadcast premiere of Battling Opioids: A Project of Pennsylvania Public Media, today at 8pm on WITF TV. The first 60 minutes of the magazine style format program consists of stories from around the Commonwealth that focuses on stigma, prevention and treatment. The final 30 minutes of the program will consist of a live panel discussion. An 800 number will be on screen allowing viewers to call for information and resources that are available throughout the state. Today, on WITF-TV.

On Smart Talk, we’ll focus on the opioid crisis in our rural communities. Drug overdose deaths are rising in rural areas, surpassing rates in urban areas. What are the unique challenges these communities face when fighting the epidemic?

We’re joined by Kristin Daneker, Executive Director/Clinical Supervisor, Perry Human Services, to discuss the unique nature of addiction in rural Pennsylvania.


Kristin Daneker

Also, the September 2018 Franklin & Marshall College poll is out and we’ll talk results with Dr. G. Terry Madonna.


Dr. G. Terry Madonna

Teen e-cigarette use; FDA declares epidemic


Health and education officials across the country are raising alarms over wide underage use of e-cigarettes and other vaping products. The devices heat liquid into an inhalable vapor that’s sold in sugary flavors like mango and mint — and often with the addictive drug nicotine. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, September 26, 2018:

The FDA put the vaping industry on notice in September, issuing warning letters and fines to five major manufacturers and more than 1,300 retailers who have illegally sold e-cigarette products to minors. Their actions are in response to what they say is an epidemic among youth.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., says they are seeing clear signs that youth use of electronic cigarettes has reached an epidemic proportion, and a strategy to stem this “clear and present danger” starts with cracking down on retail sales of e-cigarettes to minors.

There are different names for vapes or e-cigarettes, but products do this same thing; turning a liquid chemical mixture of flavoring and nicotine into an aerosol that is inhaled. Vaping and e-cigarettes use started as an alternative to cigarette smoking to help people kick that habit.

Cigarette smoke contains around 7,000 measurable chemicals, many of which are known carcinogens. E-cigarette aerosols measure only 10 to 15. However, there are many unknown risks because there have been no long-term studies.

The American Lung Association expressed concern about the possible health consequences of e-cigarettes and lack of government oversite of the products. A statement on their website says that absent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation, there is no way for the public health and medical community or consumers to know what chemicals are contained in e-cigarettes or what the short and long-term health implications might be.

Joining Smart Talk on Wednesday to discuss e-cigarette use among youth and the public is Erika Sward, assistant vice president of national advocacy for the American Lung Association, Jennifer Hobbs Folkenroth, national senior director, tobacco, American Lung Association, and Dr. Jonathan Foulds, professor of public health sciences and psychiatry at Penn State College of Medicine. Foulds is also the project leader and principal investigator at Penn State Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science. Also joining the conversation is Dionne Baylor, supervisor and prevention specialist with Dauphin County Department of Drug & Alcohol Services.

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Dionne Baylor, Jennifer Hobbs Folkenroth and Dr. Jonathan Foulds

Opioids impact on children and I Go Home series


(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, September 25, 2018:

Every day, more than 115 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids. It has been declared a public health emergency. Here in Pennsylvania, the opioid epidemic is impacting our family members, friends, teachers, first responders, and perhaps most importantly – our children.

It’s estimated that a baby is born every 25 minutes suffering from opioid withdrawal, and 2.9 million children are being raised by grandparents today.

As part of WITF’s collaboration with Pennsylvania’s public media stations on the Battling Opioids project, Tuesday’s Smart Talk focuses on children of the opioid epidemic.

Appearing on the program are Wendy Loranzo, who lost her daughter Liz to an opioid overdose and Dr. Jennifer Chambers, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Capital Blue Cross.

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Wendy Loranzo and Dr. Jennifer Chambers

Also, more than fifty years ago, Philadelphia NBC10 reporter Bill Baldini published a groundbreaking expose on the inhumane conditions at the Pennhurst State School and Hospital. His report shed an uncomfortable light on the mistreatment of society’s most vulnerable citizens – individuals with intellectual disabilties. Baldini’s report was titled Suffer the Little Children and is credited with igniting the disability civil rights movment. Two years ago, WITF-TV produced a documentary on Pennhurst called I Go Home, which will air again Nov. 8, 8pm. There is also a new documentary produced by WITF- TV as a continuation of the intellectual disabilities topic titled Going Home, and airing Nov. 15, 8pm.

The Pennhurst story is highlighted this week when Millersville University hosts a forum on disability rights and history on Friday, September 28. Prominent advocates, policymakers, and scholars will address the history of disability rights and current concerns in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Joining Smart Talk to discuss the forum and the Suffer the Little Children report are Professor Dennis Downey, Ph.D., Professor of History Ermeritus and Reporter Bill Baldini.

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Bill Baldini (Coburn Dukehart/NPR) and Prof. Dennis Downey, Ph.D.

Battling opioids – A project of Pennsylvania Public Media

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What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, September 24, 2018:

Pennsylvania has one of the highest opioid overdose death rates in the nation; nearly 13 people die everyday. The disease knows no socio-economic boundaries, and because of the wide-ranging social impact on families and communities, the crisis affects all of us.

Across the state, Pennsylvania Public Media stations WHYY (Philadelphia), WITF (Harrisburg), WLVT/PBS39 (Greater Lehigh Valley), WPSU (State College), WQED (Pittsburgh), WQLN (Northwestern Pennsylvania), and WVIA (Northeastern Pennsylvania) are collaborating to produce educational programming that focuses on the opioid crisis and its impact.

To begin the project “Battling Opioids,” an hourlong television special produced by the partners, will air on all stations on Thursday, September 27, at 8 pm across the state.

Smart Talk will feature discussions relating to the opioid battle throughout this week. On Monday’s program, WITF’s Director of Programming and Promotions Fred Vigeant and WITF Transforming Health reporter Brett Sholtis join us to talk about the station collaboration and the opioid problem in Pennsylvania. Also with us is Dr. John Gallagher, chair of the Pennsylvania Medical Society’s Opioid Advisory Task Force and Matt Null, referral development manager of Gaudenzia addiction treatment and recovery.

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Matthew Null and Dr. John Gallager

You can help increase awareness and reduce stigma in your hometown by joining WITF’s Transforming Health project for a preview of the documentary and community conversation on Tuesday, September 25, at the WITF Public Media Center from 6:30-8pm.

An expert panel will include Jack Carroll, executive director of Cumberland Perry Drug and Alcohol Commission, Dr. Matt Howie, executive director of the York Regional Opiate Collaborative, and Kristin Varner, chief communications officer for The RASE Project.

Watch, learn, and share your thoughts at this community conversation and watch event. Click here to register.

Tech schools and the labor market


What to look for on Smart Talk Friday, September 21, 2018:

The U.S. job market is red-hot. The government reports the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits is at a near 49-year low, a sign the job market remains strong. In fact, the labor market is viewed as being near or at full employment.

Skilled jobs, on the other hand, are going unfilled in Pennsylvania and many parts of the country. Often, it’s the result of the promotion of four-year colleges and universities to youth in grades K-12, at the expense of vocational training.

Labor and industry specialists began sounding the alarm several years ago, as the economy began to ramp up. According to a Forbes report the problem today, while significant, is going to get worse as skilled-trade workers in the U.S age.

Friday on Smart Talk, we are joined by area vocational schools to discuss trends and initiatives to increase enrollment. Stephen Ampersand, Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) vice president of student affairs and enrollment management and Vic Rodgers, HACC associate provost of workforce development and continuing education are in the studio. Also, on the program are Michael DeGroft, Dean of Enrollment services, Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology and Valerie Hatfield, Lancaster workforce development board.

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Valerie Hatfield, Michael DeGroft, Vic Rodgers, and Stephen Ampersand

How millennials get news/How will PA counties that flipped for Trump vote?

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What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, September 20, 2018:

The millennial generation is individuals ages 21 to 37 who were born between 1981 and 1997. It is a generation of firsts: first to have computers in the classroom, first to take photos without film, first to grow up with social media. Millennials are considered the world’s first “digital generation.” It is no wonder that statisticians, advertisers, and style-watchers use this tech-savvy generation as a litmus test for digital trends and developments.

Millennials also consume news differently than previous generations. According to an American Press Institute report, some researchers were concerned this generation spends more time on social media than on traditional news sites, reflecting a less-informed population. Researchers found the opposite is true. Their report states that for Millennials “news and information are woven into an often continuous but mindful way they connect to the world generally, which mixes news with social connection, problem solving, social action, and entertainment.”

Millennials consume news, they just do it differently than previous generations.

On Tuesday’s Smart Talk, study contributor Tom Rosenstiel, American Press Institute, will join us to talk about “How Millennials Get News: Inside the Habits of America’s First Digital Generation,” along with Lisa Wardle, WITF Digital Manager.

Also, PA Post reporter Ed Mahon recently traveled to northeastern Pennsylvania to speak with voters in Luzerne and Northampton Counties — two counties that voted for Barack Obama in 2012 but flipped to Donald Trump in 2016. Mahon appears on Thursday’s Smart Talk to discuss what voters are saying and whether Republican candidates can count on those who voted for Trump to support them as well and what democrats are doing to recoup those votes.

Open primary legislation, Recycle Bicycle Harrisburg and bras across the bridge


What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, September 19, 2018:

A top state Senate Republican has introduced legislation to open Pennsylvania’s primaries to unaffiliated voters. Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati admits he doesn’t expect the bill to pass this session but is hoping to at least get the legislation to committee.

Currently in Pennsylvania, only registered Democrats and Republicans may cast ballots for their own parties’ primary races. A Scarnati staffer say’s the senator is concerned the current system is leading to Republicans and Democrats becoming more partisan, and less likely to compromise.

WITF Capitol bureau chief and host of State of the State podcast Katie Meyer joins Smart Talk to discuss the legislation.

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Katie Meyer

Also, some people take transportation for granted and that getting easily from place to place is an expectation. But not everyone has access to safe and reliable transportation, often relying on the next best thing; old, rundown bikes acquired or handed down through families.

Ross Willard saw it often that young people and adults in Harrisburg rode whatever bike they had access to, regardless of functioning brakes or gears. The condition of these bikes and the dangers posed to the riders drove Willard to act. He started the non-profit Recycle Bicycle Harrisburg to provide people with access to safe, reliable and affordable bike transportation.

The Recycle Bicycle organization helps people fix and restore bikes for themselves. Individuals can pick out a bike that fits them and the organization helps them fix and make the bike safe and functional. Recycle Bicycle supplies the tools, the parts and the knowhow, so clients can “earn” a bike with sweat equity.

Willard is in the studio to talk about the program, along with Kelly Sangree, a “family biking” aficionado.

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Ross Willard and Kelly Sangree

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Finally, young women don’t often think about their breast health. Afterall, breast cancer is an “old lady” disease, right? Wrong! Breast cancer is an equal opportunity disease affecting women of all ages and backgrounds. The Feel Your Boobies® Foundation is on a mission to change how young women think about their breast health, primarily those under 40 (pre-mammogram age).

On Saturday, September 22, the foundation is hosting a ‘Bras Across the Bridge’ event to raise money for outreach programs that provide breast health education materials to colleges. In the past, participants walked the recognizable chain of 1600 bras from City Island into downtown Harrisburg. This year, participants will decorate and wear the bras, in addition to making the walk.

Joining Smart Talk to talk about this event and breast cancer awareness are Leigh Hurst, Feel Your Boobies founder and executive director, and Sarah Brennan, a breast cancer survivor who was first diagnosed at 38.


Leigh Hurst and Sarah Brennan

Mold dangers and prostrate cancer awareness

What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, September 18, 2018:

The 2018 school year got off to a bumpy start around Pennsylvania with multiple schools closing or delaying their start after discovering mold in the buildings. In each case, the mold was remediated and, once air quality samples confirmed it was safe, the buildings and schools opened.

Why does it seem that there were more closures and mold findings this year? Is it because of the wet weather conditions or are building managers getting better at finding mold?

Mold is almost everywhere; mold spores are a regular part of the soil and are normally quite harmless. According to the CDC website, molds are fungi that can be found both indoors and outdoors. No one knows how many species exist, but estimates range from tens of thousands to perhaps three hundred thousand or more. Molds grow best in warm, damp, and humid conditions, and spread and reproduce by making spores.

So, if mold is everywhere, when does it become dangerous? Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposure include allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory complaints.

The only way to control mold growth inside buildings is to control humidity. We all know, that has been difficult to do, particularly this summer.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss mold and its impact is Rich Roush, Cumberland Analytical Laboratories, Inc.,and Dr. Mohammad Y. Ali, an Infectious Disease physician and public health practictioner with Geisinger Holy Spirit.

September is National Prostate Health Month. Despite being the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, prostate cancer receives little media attention. The rate of men diagnosed with prostate cancer is very similar to the rate of women diagnosed with breast cancer, and the mortality rates are also similar. Joining us to discuss the disease are Kristine Warner, executive director of the Pennsylvania prostate cancer coalition, along with prostate cancer survivor Mike Rotz.

Sisters speak out about abuse by a PA priest

What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, September 17, 2018:

Of all the stories to come out of the Grand Jury report on sexual misconduct by those associated with the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania last month, the one that got the most attention was that of five sisters from one family who were sexually assaulted, abused and molested by a priest in Dauphin County. The Grand Jury found that 300 priests and others associated with the Church had abused more than a thousand children over a 70-year period.

The Fortneys were devout Catholics who welcomed Rev. Augustine Giella into their home on numerous occasions. The Fortney sisters’ parents were completely unaware that Giella was assaulting their daughters — sometimes even when they were in the room. The girls didn’t tell anyone about the abuse until they were a little older.

The abuse began when one sister was only18-months-old. The others were five, 10 and 13 years old.

Giella eventually was arrested for sexual misconduct involving another girl but died before he went to trial.

The Fortneys are speaking out and appear on Monday’s Smart Talk. Also, joining us is Pennsylvania Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm, 1-888-538-8541.