It’s all about technology on a Smart Talk road trip

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What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, October 17, 2018:

It’s a Smart Talk Road Trip to Harrisburg University of Science and Technology to explore what’s new in the world of technology, design and art. There is a lot going on in Central Pennsylvania and at Harrisburg University, starting with the UPNEXT Fest.

What began as Harrisburg’s Startup Week has “exploded” into eight days of events and activities for anyone interested in learning more about the technology, design and the startup scene in Central Pennsylvania. Smart Talk is talking about the UPNEXT fest with Chuck Russell, president of the Technology Council of Central Pennsylvania (TCCP).

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Chuck Russell addresses the Smart Talk audience

Then, it’s all about women in technology. More girls are studying STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) than ever before, but there is still an employment and wage gap. What does the current landscape look like for women in tech fields? How far have we come and where do we need to go?

On Smart Talk we’re joined by Bili Mattes, Harrisburg University provost and chief academic officer. Mattes is also the executive director of the STEM-UP leadership program. Dr. Alice Armstrong is a STEM-UP alum and she is joining the conversation, as well.


Dr. Alice Armstrong, Bili Mattes and Scott LaMar

Then, Foundry Makerspace is a social enterprise initiative to build the capacity of schools for 21st Century life and work. We’ll talk to organizational leaders about their mission and what it means to be a “maker.” Smart Talk is joined by Chad Frey, Foundry Makerspace president, Nashon Walker, fellow at Scott and Melrose Elementary, and Heather Lister, fellow at Camp Curtin Academy and Marshall Math Science Academy.

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Heather Lister, Nashon Walker, Chad Frey and Scott LaMar


U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement / 13th Congressional District candidate Brent Ottaway (D)

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In this Oct. 17, 2017, file photo, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, center, with Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, left, and Mexico’s Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, right, speaks during the conclusion of the fourth round of negotiations for a new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in Washington. U.S. and Canadian negotiators are working long hours to keep Canada in a North American trade bloc. Freeland resumed talks Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, with Lighthizer. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, October 16, 2018:

Negotiations for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA) were finalized last month when Canada agreed to join the U.S. and Mexico in a trade deal that replaces NAFTA. Legislatures in all three countries must ratify the deal before it becomes official and it is almost certain to face a very vigorous debate in the U.S. Congress.

There are certain areas of the agreement that are grabbing attention, and some involve the auto industry. The USMCA tightens the “rules of origin” for parts requiring that more parts must be sourced from North America, even if they can be found cheaper somewhere else. The trade agreement also states that a minimum amount of the car must be produced by workers earning above a certain wage. This rule is especially important in Mexico, a source of cheap labor for automakers. Some critics say that this requirement could cause prices to rise for cars built in North America.

The USMCA is expected to give the U.S. greater access to Canada’s dairy market, a vital issue for U.S. dairy manufacturers and a key component to the trade negotiations.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss how this new agreement will impact Pennsylvania agriculture are Mark O’Neill, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, member farmer Paul Hartman, Berks County, and Jayne Sebright, Center for Dairy Excellence.

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Jayne Sebright and Mark O’Neill


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Dairy cows, Scattered Acres farm, courtesy of Facebook @scatteredacresinc

Also, the 2018 U.S. elections will be held (mostly) on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. 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 the 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.

Congressional candidate for the 13th Congressional District Brent Ottaway (D) joins us on Tuesday’s Smart Talk.


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Candidate Brent Ottaway (D)

Animal protection legislation/10th Congressional district candidate George Scott (D)

What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, October 15, 2018:

The Humane Society of the United States reports that there are more than 10-thousand “puppy mills” in the country. Lancaster County is home to many “puppy mills” and the state ranks among the worst for consumer complaints about dogs purchased through these operations.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals defines a “puppy mill” as a large-scale commercial dog breeding facility where profit is given priority over the well-being of the animals. Dogs bred through these operations often carry hereditary defects and long-term health problems.

Currently, there are two animal protection bills under consideration by state legislators. The Pennsylvania Retail Sales bill (SB 1154) would require pet stores to source animals from shelters and rescues rather than “puppy mill” operations. It would also require the pet stores to post license numbers of breeders.

The Animals in Distress bill (HB 1216), also known as the “the hot car” bill, will protect animals in distress in motor vehicles by allowing public safety professionals to remove them without liability for damages.

Animal advocates and lawmakers are gathering at the Capitol today in support of both of these bills. Joining Smart Talk to discuss the legislation are Senators Guy Reschenthaler (R-37) and Andy Dinniman (D-19), and Kristen Tullo, Pennsylvania state director, The Humane Society of the United States.

Also, the 2018 U.S. elections will be held (mostly) on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. 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 the 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.

Congressional candidate for the 10th Congressional District George Scott (D) joins us on Monday’s Smart Talk.

Will it be a bad flu season?/ Mammal Hall restoration / Harrisburg book festival

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What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, October 11, 2018:

It’s back! The flu season has arrived and with it, the debate over the flu vaccine.

Health officials encourage people to get their flu shots by the end of October. In the U.S., flu season begins in October and can last as late as May, with most activity peaking in February.

The CDC recommends everyone ages six months and older get a flu vaccine each season, particularly those in high risk categories: young children, elderly, pregnant, and those with compromised immune systems. The vaccine is shown to reduce flu related illnesses and serious complications that can result in hospitalization or even death.

Every year, there seems to be debate about the efficacy of the previous year’s vaccine.

According to the CDC, the vaccine is designed to protect against the three or four influenza viruses their research indicates are most likely to spread and cause illness. Choosing which viruses to protect against is a scientific process that involves multiple labs around the globe. In other words, it is a very educated, scientific guess.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss the flu season and the vaccination program is Dr. John Goldman, MD, Vice President and System Epidemiologist, UPMC Pinnacle.


Dr. John Goldman, MD

Also, the State Museum of Pennsylvania is celebrating 50 years of Mammal Hall, one of its most popular exhibits. A three-year restoration project costing $680,000 was recently completed and the hall rededicated. The special collection of dioramas depict common and rare species of Pennsylvania in their natural habitats.

Watch this video explaining aspects of the renovation. (Story continues below.)

When Mammal Hall first opened in 1968, it was the second gallery installed at the museum. Each diorama features mammals in their natural locations throughout Pennsylvania, depicting all seasons of the year and various times of day.

The State Museum of Pennsylvania, adjacent to the State Capitol in Harrisburg, is one of 24 historic sites and museums administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. The State Museum also offers interpretations showcasing Pennsylvania’s heritage, featuring exhibits examining the dawn of geologic time, the Native American experience, the colonial and revolutionary eras, a Civil War battleground, and the commonwealth’s industrial age.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss the Mammal Hall restoration project is Beth Hager, State Museum Director.


Beth Hager

Also, Midtown Scholar Bookstore owner Catherine Lawrence is in the studio to talk about the 6th annual Harrisburg Book Festival that begins Thursday.


Catherine Lawrence

Smart Talk 10th anniversary: The environment/9th Congressional district candidate Denny Wolff (D)


What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, October 10, 2018:

Since Smart Talk debuted this week in 2008, we’ve heard from you often about the topics and issues that you find most interesting, compelling and important. Environmental issues and the environment are always at the top of the list.

Whether it is climate change, the impact of natural gas drilling, renewable energy, invasive species, clean water and air or preserving land — environmental issues resonate with Smart Talk listeners.

As the Smart Talk 10th anniversary week continues, we look back Wednesday at Pennsylvania’s environment over the past 10 years and what lies ahead in the future with former Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary David Hess and author of the Pennsylvania Constitutional Amendment guaranteeing clean air and water, former Senator Franklin Kury.

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Senator Franklin Kury and David Hess.

Also on Smart Talk, 9th Congressional district candidate Denny Wolff (D) is in the studio to talk about the election and his position on the issues. Wolff is a lifelong resident of Columbia County and a fifth-generation dairy farmer. The 9th Congressional District is made up of Lebanon, Schuylkill, Columbia and parts of Berks, Carbon, Northumberland, Luzerne, and Montour Counties.

Smart Talk invited the candidates for the U.S. Senate, House of Representatives and governor to appear on the program so that voters can hear where they stand. The conversations are intended to allow candidates to state their positions and to provide information to voters to help them decide which candidates to support.


9th Congressional district candidate Denny Wolff (D)

Domestic violence gun legislation and Gubernatorial candidate (Lib) Ken Krawchuck

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What to look for on Smart Talk Friday, October 5, 2018:

Pennsylvania could join 29 other states that require people convicted of domestic violence to turn in their firearms within 24 hours, making it consistent with the Protection from Abuse Act.

The Senate voted 43-05 earlier this week to send the bill to Gov. Tom Wolf, who plans to sign it into law. With bi-partisan support, it’s the first time in years that Pennsylvania has tightened a gun law.

Action on this legislation comes during National Domestic Violence Awareness month.

Under current law, domestic abusers have 60 days to turn firearms over to a family member or friend. The new law will require guns be relinquished to police, lawyers or licenses firearms dealers.

Friday’s Smart Talk focuses on the new law with it’s sponsor Republican State Representative Marguerite Quinn of Bucks County and Julie Bancroft, Chief Public Affairs Officer with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

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Julie Bancroft and State Representative Marguerite Quinn (R)

**Candidate Ken Krawchuk’s interview will air on a later Smart Talk, due to being preempted by an NPR special report.

Smart Talk continues our conversations with the candidates on the 2018 mid-term election ballot Friday. Joining us on the program is Libertarian candidate for governor Ken Krawchuk to discuss the issues facing Pennsylvania.

Politics over the last 10 years and the Kittatinny Ridge


What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, October 9, 2018:

Smart Talk premiered on October 9, 2008, in response to the Great Recession (as it became known). The program was designed to engage and answer Central Pennsylvanians’ questions about the worst economic downturn since the 1930s. The program was supposed to be temporary but just a month after its debut, voters went to the polls to elect a new president. They voted, primarily, between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain.

It was decided that the “temporary” Smart Talk program would stay on-the-air at least through the historic election that had generated excitement across the country.

History was made when Obama became the nation’s first African-American president.

When Smart Talk became a permanent fixture on WITF — politics and public policy was a major topic of discussion.

Smart Talk’s 10th anniversary continues Tuesday with a look back at politics over the past decade with Franklin and Marshall College political analyst and historian Dr. G. Terry Madonna.


Also on Smart Talk, the Duncannon Borough Council voted in September to secure a conservation easement of more than 1600 acres under the protection of The Nature Conservancy. The easement protects a portion of the Sherman’s creek watershed from future development and is part of the Kittatinny Ridge.

The Kittatinny Ridge, also known as Blue Mountain, runs through Pennsylvania for 185 miles and is home to a portion of the Appalachian Trail. The ridge is a veritable highway; an important raptor migration corridor in the northeastern U.S. and used by literally tens of thousands of hawks, eagles, and falcons each fall. Other species, in addition to raptors, migrate through the area, including Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and Monarch Butterflies.


Kittatinny Ridge

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Photo courtesy of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association @HawkMountainSanctuary

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is among the best known hawk watching sites in the East and is located on the ridge. Hawk Mountain is a 2,500-acre sanctuary and the world’s first refuge for birds of prey. The scenic overlooks are open to the public and are an important location for volunteers who are counting raptors during the annual migration.

On Smart Talk today, is Bill Kunze, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, and Laurie Goodrich, Ph.D., Director of Long-Term Monitoring, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.

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Dr. Laurie Goodrich and Bill Kunze

Smart Talk 10 year anniversary and lead poisoning inspectors

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Marilou Yingling holds an x-ray fluorescent “gun” that is used to determine the presence of lead paint. The device requires its radioactive elements to be replaced about once a year, and that costs about $3,000, Yingling said. (Brett Sholtis/Transforming Health)

What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, October 8, 2018:

Ten years ago this week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 700 points. During the previous week, the Dow went down by almost 23-hundred points and General Motors stock lost 31 percent of its value.

The economic news kept getting worse; 478-thousand people filed for jobless benefits during the previous week and the economy lost 159 thousand jobs the month before. There were banks going out of business and those still open weren’t lending money. The federal government had approved a $700 billion bailout – mostly for banks and major industries the week before.

A recession that began with the subprime mortgage crisis, loans made to people with poor credit histories and purchased by financial institutions who acquired those mortgages, was in full swing. It was called the Great Recession and it was the worst financial collapse in the United States since The Great Depression in the 1930s.

Everyone was impacted in one way or another and the economic collapse was all anyone could talk about.

WITF made a programming decision to engage the community and provide information on the floundering economy. Appearing on that first Radio Smart Talk were Scott Ehrig, M&T Bank and Rick Rodgers, Rodgers and Associates. Beth from Dover was Smart Talk’s very first caller, but was one of many with questions and comments.

Radio Smart Talk was just getting started as the economy continued to falter, but there was a presidential election in just a few weeks pitting Democrat Barack Obama against Republican John McCain. There was plenty to talk about and plans to make Radio Smart Talk temporary changed.

On the show today are Scott Gilbert, first Smart Talk host and WITF’s news director at the time, economy experts Scott Ehrig, FMA Advisory, INC., and Rick Rodgers, Rodgers and Associates.

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Rick Rodgers, Scott Ehrig, and Scott Gilbert

Also today, lead inspectors are warning that there are homes needed tested but due to a recent change in how inspectors are paid many go without. A state policy change has cut off the funding source that used to pay for lead inspections across Pennsylvania.

Under the old system, lead inspectors would bill the state $350 for each home inspection, which would help pay for testing supplies and pay the inspectors.

Under a new system, which began this year, the state requires Medicaid insurers to pay for lead testing and set up separate conracts with lead inspectors to perform the service. This new layer of bureacracy means that fewer inspections are being done, but the problem of lead contamination in area homes has not changed.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss the changes and how they are affecting public health are WITF Transforming Health reporter Brett Sholtis, Leesa Allen, Executive Deputy Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, and April Hutcheson, Director of Communications with the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

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April Hutcheson and Brett Sholtis

Public Defender Series and solutions on climate and energy


What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, October 4, 2018:

Anyone accused of committing a crime and facing criminal charges in the U.S. has a Constitutional right to be represented by an attorney and as the famous Miranda warning says, an attorney will be appointed for the defendant if the defendant can’t afford one.

Indigent defendants are often represented in court by public defenders.

An investigative series by PA Post reporters finds that Pennsylvania is the only state in the country that doesn’t provide state funding for public defenders. It’s up to the state’s counties to pay for public defenders. The PA Post series also found that many public defenders are stretched thin because they handle too many cases and as a result may not provide adequate representation for their clients. At least one lawmaker is concerned that Pennsylvania isn’t meeting its Constitutional responsibilities.

PA Post reporters Emily Previti and Katie Meyer appear on Thursday’s Smart Talk to describe what they found.

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Emily Previti and Katie Meyer

Also, Dr. Richard Alley’s research as a Geoscientist is focused on studying the past to have a look into the future. His research with the Greenland ice sheets and Antarctica allow him to make forecasts of the future in the midst of climate change. Alley says that by looking at global warming framed against the bigger picture of energy and the environment, we can also grow economies. The economy, health, jobs, national security, and the environment all intersect. As do the ethics of it all, because the people causing global warming are the ones who are least affected by it.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss insights to climate and energy solutions is Dr. Richard Alley, Ph.D., Professor of Geoscience, Pennsylvania State University. He is appearing at a local event with the Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Harrisburg Rotary Club on Wednesday, October 10.


Dr. Richard Alley, Ph.D.

EMS services sound the alarm

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What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, October, 3, 2018:

When there is a medical emergency, you pick up the phone, dial 9-1-1 and first responders come to your aid. But what happens if there is no one there to answer your call?

Local emergency service providers are in a crisis and few Pennsylvanians realize how bad the situation is and how it may affect them, personally.

EMS providers say a lack of reliable and sustainable funding and staffing shortages are threatening the future of EMS services throughout the state. Without a solution, some EMS service providers may close their doors for good, leaving no one there to “answer the phone.” Already, there are half as many EMS services now than in the 1990s in Pennsylvania.

We discuss the EMS crisis on Wednesday’s Smart Talk with David Sanko, Executive Director, Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, Jason Campbell, CEO South Central EMS service, and Donald A. DeReamus, Legislative Committee Chair, Ambulance Association of Pennsylvania.

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Jason Campbell, Don DeReamus and David Sanko