Top Stories of 2018 on Smart Talk — clergy sex abuse

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Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro holds hands with Judy Deaven who says her son was a victim of sexual abuse by a priest as a boy, during a news conference at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

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

The Top Stories of 2018 on Smart Talk continue Thursday with one that resonated throughout Pennsylvania, across the nation and even to the Vatican in Rome — the Grand Jury report on sexual misconduct in the Catholic Church.

Last August, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro released details of a Grand Jury report that found 301 priests and others affiliated with Catholic Dioceses had sexually molested, abused or assaulted more than 1,000 children over the past 70 years. Shapiro said that in addition, the Church often moved priests who had been credibly accused or generally covered up the accusations. Shapiro named names that were included in the Grand Jury report even though most had never faced criminal charges. In fact, many of those named were dead.

The Grand Jury report inspired other states to begin investigations into clergy abuse and Pope Francis had to address the issue since the report was made public.

With us on the program are Rep. Mark Rozzi of Berk County — an abuse survivor — and Pennsylvania’s Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm. We are also joined by survivor John Delaney.

The report said a priest sexually molested, abused and assaulted five sisters from one family. Four of the Fortnet sisters from Dauphin County appear on Thursday’s program.

2018 Smart Talk Road Trips

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

The first of three Top Stories of 2018 on Smart Talk episodes airs Wednesday.

Smart Talk Road Trips have become some of the most anticipated programs produced all year. The show visits interesting places throughout the region and the state to discuss issues, history and other compelling topics. A live audience at the Road Trips brings more energy.

We’ll highlight three Road Trips Wednesday.

Last March, we travelled to Pittsburgh and the Senator John Heinz History Center where there was an exhibit marking the 50th anniversary of the premiere of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. Fred Rogers is a Pittsburgh icon and the exhibit displayed many of the original set pieces from his pioneering children’s TV show. On Smart Talk, we spoke with Deborah Acklin, President & CEO WQED Multimedia; Paul Siefkin-President, Fred Rogers Company on the program.

In October, we made a Road Trip to Bethany Village in Mechanicsburg where we had an interesting conversation with four residents who talked about aging.

Finally, the George Spangler Farm in Gettysburg is where we discussed civility last July. The occasion was the 75th anniversary of the Eternal Peace Light at Gettysburg.

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.

An epidemic killing coal miners / ER’s and mental illness treatment

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“There’s a lot of memories here, some good, some bad,” says Smith, while reflecting on his years working at the now defunct Solid Energy mine in Pike County. (photo: Rich-Joseph Facun, NPR)

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

The symptoms appear gradually, and don’t go away.

Shortness of breath. A chronic cough. Coughing up phlegm.

Other diseases, and illnesses, can cause similar symptoms. The difference is that with a diagnosis of black lung, there is no cure, only treatment of the symptoms.

A multi-year investigation by NPR and the PBS program Frontline has identified an outbreak of the advanced stage of black lung that is far greater than previously thought or reported.

In the past, black lung was usually associated with older miners who spent their working lives underground. The trend now is that the disease is occurring in workers who have logged as little as ten years in the mines.

Appearing on Smart Talk to about the resurgence of the deadly coal miner disease is NPR Investigative Correspondent Howard Berkes. Listen to NPR report, “An Epidemic is Killing Thousands of Coal Miners. Regulators Could Have Stopped it.

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Stephen Voss/NPR

Also, emergency rooms are often the first line of help for people living with mental illness and their link to treatment resources.

WITF Transforming Health reporter Brett Sholtis appears on Smart Talk to discuss the impact this has on ER’S and the individuals and families seeking help. Also joining the discussion is Kenneth “KC” Johnson, WellSpan Phillhaven director of access and crisis intervention.

This story is part of WITF’s Through the Cracks project, to investigate and examine how those who are living with mental illness are coping, receiving treatment, and integrating into the community.

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KC Johnson and Brett Sholtis

Poland climate conference / The Middle America Project


Polish teenagers stage a protest in the U.N. climate conference venue on the last days of talks to urge negotiators from almost 200 countries to reach an agreement on ways of keeping global warming in check in Katowice, Poland, Friday, Dec. 14, 2018.(AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

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

The United Nations Climate Change Conference was held earlier this month in Katowice, Poland. The conference was convened to decide the rules and guidelines for implementing the Paris Climate Accord.

The 2015 Paris agreement was touted as a major milestone in reducing global emissions, but since it was signed the Trump administration has stated the U.S. will withdraw from the agreement in 2020.

The Polish conference took on renewed urgency because of the U.S. plan and the need for slowing climate change,

Professor Donald Brown attended the climate conference and he is appearing on Smart Talk to share his observations and analysis. Professor Brown is the Scholar in Residence for Sustainability Ethics and Law for Widener University Commonwealth Law School, Environmental Law and Sustainability Center.


Donald Brown

Also, a recent demographic assessment by D.C.-based analytics firm has drawn an interesting conclusion.

Their findings show that Dauphin County is “statistically closest to resembling America as a whole.”

Called the ‘Middle America Project,’ the analysis was made using a myriad of statistical variables: income, voting patterns, race, religious affiliation, and a wide range of social and demographic characteristics.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss the analysis and what the findings mean is Patrick Ruffini, Partner and Co-Founder of Echelon Insights.


Patrick Ruffini

What to know about flood insurance/While Reason Slept

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

The year 2018 will go down as one of the wettest on record in South Central Pennsylvania. The region received between 10-to-15 inches of rainfall above the average for the last 12 months.

More rain and several significant rain events resulted in more homes being damaged by water. Whether it was a flooded basement, a damaged foundation or leaking roof, the rain took its toll on many structures. Unfortunately, some homeowners discovered after it was too late that their homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policies didn’t cover the damage caused by water.

They needed flood insurance even if they didn’t live near a body of water.

Flood insurance is one of the most misunderstood forms of insurance and with an average yearly premium of $700, it can be one of the most expensive.

We discuss what you need to know about flood insurance on Tuesday’s Smart Talk with Jim Enders, Vice President of Enders Insurance in Dauphin County.


Jim Enders

Also, in his new book While Reason Slept, Thomas Brier Jr. (a Hershey native) tells the story of the nation’s founding principles and how the men who wrote the Constitution envisioned government for the common good. He writes that the Constitution has been eroded by self interest, consumerism and propaganda.

Thomas Brier appears on Tuesday’s Smart Talk.


Tom Brier

How much is that antique worth?

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

During the holiday season, many of us reminisce about our past. Often, a favorite gift we received will be part of those memories. For a lot of us, that favorite gift was a toy. That same toy may be in the attic as a keepsake. Even if you didn’t want to sell it, you probably have wondered how much money it is worth or its value today.

That’s where Monday’s Smart Talk comes in.

David Cordier of Cordier Auctions and Appraisals is in the studio to discuss antiques, collectibles and how much value they may have.

And it’s not just toys Mr. Cordier will be evaluating. It can be anything — furniture, firearms, heirlooms — you name it.

What makes this show fascinating is not just hearing about the estimated price of a piece, but about its history and where it came from, how it was acquired or how long it has been in the family.

Do you have an item you’d like to have appraised from a long distance? Send a brief (under 25 words) description or maybe a photograph to


David Cordier


Pennsylvania’s nuclear dilemma: should the state bail out plants?

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Exelon’s Three Mile Island plant is scheduled to prematurely close in September 2019. The company has been lobbying for help from the state to keep it open. Photo courtesy: Exelon

What to look for on Smart Talk Friday, December 14, 2018:

Pennsylvania could avoid a “devastating and permanent blow” to its economy and environment if it considers the ways other states have helped bail out their own failing nuclear plants… that’s according to a recent legislative report.

Two of Pennsylvania’s five nuclear plants are soon set to close prematurely.

Exelon plans to shutter its Three Mile Island plant in 2019, and FirstEnergy announced it would retire its Beaver Valley plant ahead of schedule, in 2021.

The early closures are part of a broader trend across the U.S. as the industry has struggled amid slowing demand for electricity, high operating costs, and competition from cheaper natural gas and renewables.

In recent years, other states have used various, controversial mechanisms to give billions of dollars to prop up their ailing nuclear plants by recognizing them as a source of carbon-free power… and there’s a big push to do something similar in Pennsylvania.

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss a possible bailout are Rep.Thomas Mehaffie (R- Dauphin) and David Fein, Senior Vice President of State Governmental and Regulatory Affairs at Exelon.


Rep.Thomas Mehaffie

Also joining the program are Mark Szybist, senior attorney, Climate and Clean Energy Program, Natural Resources Defense Council, Stephanie Catarino Wissman, Executive Director, Associated Petroleum Industries of Pennsylvania, and Glen Thomas, President GT Power Group.

Pennsylvania’s Solar Future / NPR’s Melissa Block


What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, December 13, 2018:

California is the clear winner. Or perhaps we should say the “clean” winner. The Golden State tops unofficial lists of best states for solar growth, producing enough to power 5.4 million homes. No other state comes close.

Pennsylvania is listed in the top ten for number of solar PV systems installed, but when it comes to energy production, we have a ways to go.

Currently, solar produces less than one percent of Pennsylvania’s electricity. The state Environmental Protection Office (EPO) has set a goal increasing that amount to 10%.

What kind of investment will Pennsylvania have to make to meet this goal?

Patrick McDonnell, Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection joins us on Smart Talk Thursday to talk about Finding Pennsylvania’s Solar Future,‘ along with plan architect David Althoff.

The EPO released the Solar Future plan last month, along with 15 strategies to increase solar production.

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David Althoff and Secretary Patrick McDonnell

Also, award-winning NPR special correspondent Melissa Block co-hosted All Things Considered for 12 years. Today, she produces features about high-profile individuals, and stories on critical issues.

Block recently covered a story highlighting the intersection of guns and dementia and the dilemma facing families. Listen to that feature:

Melissa Block appears on Smart Talk today to share this story, and another about an unlikely partnership.


Melissa Block

Broadband access not available everywhere in PA


What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, December 12, 2018:

Turn on a computer or connect a phone to Wi-Fi and most of us expect immediate, and fast, connectivity. In this digital age, we’ve come to take internet access for granted.

The Federal Communications Commission estimates about 800,000 Pennsylvanians lack access to Broadband. However, a recent Penn State study finds the number much higher at 11 million people as defined by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC says broadband has a speed of at least 25 megabits per second (Mbps) download and at least 3 Mbps upload.

Governor Tom Wolf has launched a ‘Broadband Initiative,’ with a goal to provide high-speed internet access to every household and business in Pennsylvania by 2022.

The Governor says that “lack of quality internet access means businesses are not able to market themselves and conduct business online, kids miss out on learning opportunities and healthcare facilities cannot share information with specialists.” The broadband Initiative is intended to “bridge the digital divide.”

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss broadband access in Pennsylvania are Steve Samara, PA Telephone Association, Barry Denk of the Center for Rural PA and Senator-elect Kristin Phillips-Hill, York County.

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Steve Samara, Barry Denk and PA Senator (elect) Kristin Phillips-Hill