Gubernatorial candidate Senator Scott Wagner / Are ghosts real?


Alex Trebek, left, moderates a gubernatorial debate between Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, center, and Republican Scott Wagner in Hershey, Pa., Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. The debate was hosted by the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry. (Matt Rourke/The Associated Press)

What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, October 31, 2018:

The countdown is on and the rhetoric is heating up. In less than a week, voters will go to the polls for what is shaping up to be an historic midterm election.

These midterm elections take place in the middle of President Donald Trump’s first term. Nationally, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate will be contested. Pennsylvania voters will go to the polls for the Governors’ office, as well.

Smart Talk invited candidates for the U.S. Senate, House of Representatives and the Governor’s office to appear on the program so that voters can hear where they stand on the issues. Hear the candidates here.

On Wednesday’s Smart Talk is former Pennsylvania state Senator Scott Wagner, a Republican running for Governor against incumbent Tom Wolf (D) and two others. Governor Wolf was also invited to appear on Smart Talk before the election but declined the opportunity.


Senator Scott Wagner

Also, tis the season for tricks and treats and all things scary. Are ghosts real? What is the difference between a ghost and a haunting?

Wednesday is Halloween and we’re focusing on ghosts and hauntings with Dr. Rich Robbins, a Bucknell University associate dean of Arts and Sciences and a certified parapsychologist, who will attempt to demystify the truth behind paranormal phenomena.


Dr. Rich Robbins

Smart Talk Road Trip to Bethany Village to discuss aging

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What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, October 30, 2018:

Smart Talk takes another Road Trip for Tuesday’s program — this time to Bethany Village in Mechanicsburg where we’ll discuss aging and more specifically aging well.

One of the highlights of the program is hearing from four Bethany Village residents who range in ages between 71 and 80 about their life experiences, what they like and don’t like about getting older and what younger people can learn from them.

Improving how people age is one of the goals of the Embracing Aging project in York County. Embracing Aging seeks to improve attitudes toward aging and reducing barriers to aging well. What does it mean to “age well?” Is there ageism in our society and how do we stop it? Baby-boomers are retiring or getting near retirement age. This is a generation that has constantly been on-the-go. Will the baby-boom generation change how we think about and behave in our older years?

Cathy Bollinger, the Managing Director of the Embracing Project of the York County Community Foundation is with us along with Ray Landis of AARP.

Finally, many want to travel when they retire or get older. Craig Haberle of AAA Travel is on the program to discuss traveling when we retire or get older.

Pittsburgh synagogue shooting / Candidate Dan Meuser (R)


A memorial of flowers and stars in Pittsburgh on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018, in remembrance of those killed and injured when a shooter opened fire during services Saturday at the synagogue. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, October 29, 2018:

The shooting that left 11 people dead at a Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday is being called the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history. Robert Bowers, who railed against Jews on his social media accounts is charged with the murders and federal hate crimes.

Nationally, anti-semitic hate crimes and vandalism increased more than against any other groups in 2016 according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Vigils were held in Pittsburgh and around the country last night decrying anti-semitism and hate. Once again, after a mass shooting, questions as to why and what can be done stop it are being asked.

On Monday’s Smart Talk, WITF’s Katie Meyer joins us from Pittsburgh. Also with us is Robin Burstein, the Senior Associate Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

The ADL posts up-to-date information on ADL H.E.A.T. Map. It is the first-of-its-kind interactive and customizable map detailing extremist and anti-Semitic incidents around the nation.

Also, on Monday’s Smart Talk is Candidate Dan Meuser, a Republican running for U.S. House of Representatives in the 9th District. The 9th Congressional District is made up of Lebanon, Schuylkill, Columbia and parts of Berks, Carbon, Northumberland, Luzerne, and Montour Counties.


Candidate Dan Meuser

Note: Incumbent Republican Congressman Scott Perry was scheduled to appear on Monday’s Smart Talk to discuss his re-electioin efforts. Congressman Perry will be on Thursday’s program.


Senate candidate Lou Barletta (R) / 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”


FILE PHOTO: A voter casts a ballot. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

What to look for on Smart Talk Friday, October 26, 2018:

Election day is now less than two weeks away. These midterm elections take place in the middle of President Donald Trump’s first term. Nationally, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate will be contested. Pennsylvania voters will go to the polls for the Governors’ office, as well.

Smart Talk invited candidates for the U.S.Senate, House of Representatives and the Governors office to appear on the program so that voters can hear where they stand on the issues. Hear the candidates here.

On Friday’s Smart Talk is Congressman Lou Barletta, a Republican running for Senate against incumbent Senator Bob Casey (D). Barletta serves as a U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania’s 11th congressional district since 2011.


Congressman Lou Barletta (R)

Also, this year is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The book has legions of fans across the globe and inspired scores of movie adaptations; more than any novel in history. The general theme involves a mad scientist raising a “creature” from the dead; spooking generations of horror enthusiasts.

The National Endowment for the Humanities is commemorating the bicentennial of the novel by launching “Frankenreads”: a “Bloomsday”-style collection of events celebrating Frankenstein. Events are taking place at libraries and universities around the world, culminating in a series of full-length live readings of the novel on Halloween, October 31, 2018.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss the novel and some of the misconceptions surrounding the story is Professor Ashton Nichols, a 19th and 20th century British literature scholar from Dickinson College.


Professor Ashton Nichols

Generations Yet to Come / voter registration trends / Candidate Jess King, 11th district

Ricketts Glen State Park

Ricketts Glen State Park is among the most scenic areas in Pennsylvania. It’s comprised of 13,050 acres in Luzerne, Sullivan, and Columbia counties. October 15, 2018, Marie Cusick/ StateImpact Pennsylvania

What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, October 25, 2018:

Pennsylvanians have the right to clean air and water, thanks to the efforts of a young legislator named Franklin Kury. Nearly 50 years ago, Kury and other environmental advocates led the initiative to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution guaranteeing these rights.

The Environmental Rights Amendment was added to the state Constitution in 1971, as article 1, section 27. A new documentary produced by StateImpact Pennsylvania called Generations Yet to Come: Environmental Rights in Pennsylvania airs Thursday, October 25 on WITF-TV at 8pm and Friday, October 26 on WQED-TV at 8:30pm.

“Generations Yet to Come: Environmental Rights in Pennsylvania”- Promo

StateImpact Pennsylvania reporter and documentary producer Marie Cusick is in the studio to talk about the program.

Also, enthusiasm for the upcoming election is translating into an increase in voter registrations.

Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated or third-party voters’ registration increased during 2018, which hasn’t happened for any other midterm in at least the past two decades, according to a PA Post analysis of Pennsylvania Department of State archived registration data going back to 1998.

Pa Post reports the trend seems to “quantify excitement among voters in Pennsylvania and across the country amid national political polarization.”

Keystone Crossroads reporter Emily Previti joins Smart Talk to discuss the trend. Previti produces The Context, a PA Post daily newsletter and is the senior reporter for statewide public media collaboration Keystone Crossroads.

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Emily Previti and Marie Cusick

Also, Smart Talk invited the candidates for the U.S.Senate, House of Representatives and the Governor’s office to appear on the program so that voters can hear where they stand on the issues.

Hear the candidates here

Appearing on Thursday’s Smart Talk is Democrat Jess King, running for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 11th Congressional district that encompasses Lancaster County and the southern part of York County.

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Candidate Jess King

Code Girls author Liza Mundy

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Smart Talk host Scott LaMar and Code Girls author Liza Mundy at Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg.

What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, October 24, 2018:

Seventy-three years after World War II ended, we’re finally hearing about thousands of young American women who saved lives and helped defeat the enemy. In her latest book Code Girls – the Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II, best-selling author Liza Mundy describes the secretive duties of the women who were able to break down and interpret codes sent by the Japanese and German militaries, diplomats and governments.

Their efforts led to knowing the enemies’ plans, where their troops were located, troop strengths and supply chains.

One of the reasons the story hasn’t been told over the last seven decades is the code breakers were sworn to secrecy — even from spouses, family and friends. Many of them were reluctant to break their silence even now.

Liza Mundy recently appeared at Midtown Scholar Bookstore for their Harrisburg Bookfest. Smart Talk host Scott LaMar interviewed her about the book and a recording of that conversation is on Wednesday’s Smart Talk.

Family genealogy / Congressman Lloyd Smucker 11th district

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Erin Hunt of Taylorsville, Utah, left, looks through Irish land records with Family History Library staffer Mark Gardner at the Mormon church-owned library in Salt Lake City in this May 4, 2010 photo. The library is visited by some 700,000 people annually and is widely considered the world’s largest repository of genealogy records. (AP Photo/Mike Stark)

What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, October 23, 2018:

Family history and genealogical research is one of the fastest growing hobbies in the world. People trace their lineage and map their family tree for any number of reasons. Some people want to validate history and family stories, others are motivated by unanswered medical questions and to assess risks and conditions.

As more people begin searching genealogical sites, databases grow larger and connections are made. In the internet age, mapping a family tree is at right at your fingertips.

In 2001, Congress declared October as National Family History Month in the United States. Every year, the National Archives hosts a virtual Genealogy Fair via live webcast on YouTube. The sessions offer family history research tools on Federal records for all skill levels. Thousands of family historians participate in the live event.

Aaron McWilliams, an archivist with the Pennsylvania State Archives, joins Smart Talk on Tuesday to discuss ways to research your family tree.

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Aaron McWilliams

Also, Smart Talk is featuring interviews with candidates running for governor, U.S. Senate, and U.S. House of Representatives before the November 6 general election. All candidates who appear on the ballot in the WITF listening area and who have opponents were invited to be on the program.

Joining Smart Talk on Tuesday is Congressman Lloyd Smucker, who is running for reelection in the 11th district that encompasses Lancaster County and the southern part of York County.

Ken Krawchuk/Paul Glover — candidates for governor on Smart Talk

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What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, October 22, 2018:

Election day is a little over two weeks away. This mid-term election seems to be getting more attention than most as voters decide on candidates running for governor, U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Here in Pennsylvania, voters will cast ballots for state representatives and half the Pennsylvania state senate.

Leading up to the election, Smart Talk is speaking with the gubernatorial, and U.S. House and Senate candidates from Central Pennsylvania to give voters an opportunity to hear where the candidates stand on the issues.

Hear the candidates here.

Among the candidates we’re talking with are those who are neither Democrats or Republicans. Pennsylvania has more than 44,000 voters registered Libertarian, 11,500 registered as Green and 1.1 million not registered with any party.

Appearing on Monday’s Smart Talk are two candidates running for governor of Pennsylvania.

Ken Krawchuk is on the ballot representing the Libertarian Party and Paul Glover is the Green Party’s candidate for governor.


Author Stephen Fried / What’s new with Alzheimer’s research

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What to look for on Smart Talk Friday, October 19, 2018:

Some 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s Disease and another 16 million are caring for them (unpaid). The federal government is spending a record $1.8 billion dollars to research Alzheimer’s, which many consider a growing calamity, since the population is aging. There is no cure and no long-term successful treatment for Alzheimer’s.

Research continues into Alzheimer’s Disease and some of it appears to be promising. However, for every positive, there’s a negative to go along with it. For example, 99.6% of Alzheimer’s drugs tested successfully in animals fail in human trials.

On Friday’s Smart Talk, we’re joined by the Alzheimer’s Association’s Director of Scientific Engagement, Dr. Rebecca Edelmayer and Jeremy Bland, the Director of Marketing and Communications for the Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Harrisburg Chapter, to discuss research and the future of Alzheimer’s.

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Dr. Rebecca Edelmayer & Jeremy Bland

Also, author Stephen Fried appears on Friday’s program to talk about his book Rush — Revolution, Madness and the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father. Benjamin Rush is one of the least known signers of the Declaration of Independence but he accomplished so much more in his life like founding Dickinson College in Carlisle and pioneering treatment for mental illness.

Stephen Fried, who is a Harrisburg native, appears at the Beth El Temple in Harrisburg at 7:30 Sunday evening.

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Rush author Stephen Fried

Breast Cancer Awareness / Senate candidates and healthcare

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In this May 31, 2013 photo, breast cancer survivor Alicia Cook holds photos of family members who have also been afflicted by breast cancer, outside her home in Chicago. New research shows genetic breast cancer is more common in black women than previously thought. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, October 18, 2018:

Breast cancer treatments are often more effective when the cancer is detected early. Self-screening and regular mammograms, for women 40 and older, are critical tools in early diagnosis. But there are barriers to breast cancer screening and access to breast health information doesn’t always reach low-income populations.

The Feel Your Boobies Foundation is working to change that in Central Pennsylvania, through a collaborative effort with the Hamilton Health Center. The Health Center provides community-based health care for all people regardless of income level and insurance status. The Foundation, by expanding their educational outreach to young women in underserved and minority communities, hopes to remove a barrier to breast cancer screening.

Research shows that black women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age than white women and their mortality rate is higher. Early screening is critical to changing that statistic.

Appearing on Thursday’s Smart Talk to discuss this collaboration are Dr. Loren Robinson, Deputy Secretary for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Leigh Hurst, Executive Director, Feel Your Boobies Foundation, and Tyrisha Roberson, a breast cancer survivor. Roberson was diagnosed in her early 20’s with metastatic breast cancer and is still receiving treatment.

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Tyrisha Roberson, Dr. Loren Robinson & Leigh Hurst

Also, health care is a hot-button issue in this year’s U.S. Senate campaign. Incumbent Democratic Senator Bob Casey and his Republican opponent Lou Barletta are clashing over the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the preexisting conditions stipulation.

WITF Transforming Health reporter Brett Sholtis is in the studio to discuss where the candidates stand on these and other healthcare issues.

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Transforming Health reporter Brett Sholtis