Do spirits exist among us?

Segment: Tracking paranormal activities Thru the Veil Investigations Services

It’s Halloween and Smart Talk is getting into the spirit of the season. There are people who claim to have experienced or seen what they describe as supernatural events; things that can’t be easily explained by laws of nature.

Perhaps what they’ve seen should be called Paranormal, or phenomena that occur outside normal experience or scientific explanation.

A mid-state team from Thru the Veil Investigations approach these events as very real phenomenon that should be investigated.

Tom Shirey
Tom Shirey appears on Smart Talk on October 31, 2019.

Joining Smart Talk on Thursday to provide insight to paranormal activity is Tom Shirey, a founder and lead investigator with Thru the Veil Investigations.

Jeanne Robertson has been traveling the country as a professional speaker for more than 55 years. Her unique blend of humor and life observations have earned her the title of American Humorist.

Jeanne Robertson
Jeanne Robertson appears on Smart Talk October 31, 2019.

Robertson’s original material is delivered with her distinctive Southern accent, which adds a polite, but satirical overtone. She is a member of the Speakers Hall of Fame and she will appear at the Shippensburg Luhrs Performing Arts Center on Friday, November 8.

Jeanne Robertson will appear on Smart Talk Thursday.

Legislation requiring insurance companies to pay for long-term Lyme disease treament

Lyme is a bacterial infection that is passed to humans through the bite of a deer tick; a common parasite in Pennsylvania. In fact, Lyme disease is so common here that the state has ranked first in the U.S. for reported cases over the last five years.

It is known as the “great imitator,” because Lyme symptoms are common to a host of other diseases. Frequently misdiagnosed, a sick person may not realize or remember they were bitten by a tick and, therefore, they don’t make the connection to the disease.

Treatment with antibiotics will be quicker and more complete the sooner it begins. If left undiagnosed, the disease becomes more complicated as the infection progresses through the body. Once this happens, treatment may be less effective, longer-term, and quite expensive.

Many insurance plans don’t currently cover the cost of long-term antibiotic treatment, so legislation has been proposed to require coverage in Pennsylvania.

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss both sides of this issue are Republican state Representative Kathy Rapp of Warren County, Jackie Zulli, Vice President of legislative affairs for the PA Lyme Resource Network,and Dr. Henry Linder, MD, Endocrinologist. Sam Marshall, President and CEO of the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania will also be joined by Jonathan C. Greer, Senior Vice President of the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania.

Jacki Zulli
Jackie Zulli, Vice President of legislative affairs for the PA Lyme Resource Network, appears on Smart Talk, October 30, 2019.
Henry Linder
Dr. Henry Linder, MD, Endocrinologist, appears on Smart Talk, October 30, 2019.
Kathy Rapp
Republican state Representative Kathy Rapp of Warren County, appears on Smart Talk, October 30, 2019.
Sam Marshall, President and CEO of the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania, appears on Smart Talk September 10, 2019
Sam Marshall, President and CEO of the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania, appears on an earlier Smart Talk in September.

Also, the NPR radio production the Hidden Brain uses science and storytelling to reveal patterns driving human behavior.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss how these patterns reveal our choices and direct our relationships is Host Shankar Vedantam.

For more information on Lyme disease plus a deeper look at the changing tide of healthcare–check out WITF’s Transforming Health. Online at A partnership of WITF, WellSpan Health and Capital Blue Cross.


Reforming Pennsylvania’s probation system

Probation reform is making headlines in Pennsylvania and around the country.

Nationally-known and celebrity advocates are part of the reason. Rapper Meek Mill brought attention to the reform movement this summer when he successfully petitioned Philadelphia prosecutors to change a decade old plea agreement. The plea deal kept him under court-ordered probation supervision for more than 10 years, which is not unusual under Pennsylvania law.

Changes to the current system are gaining momentum and have bi-partisan support in the state legislature. In fact, reform is one of the few issues where both liberals and conservatives agree.

Jessica Jackson
Jessica Jackson, Chief Advocacy Officer of the Reform Alliance, October 28, 2019.

Joining us on Monday’s Smart Talk to discuss probation reform initiatives is Jessica Jackson, Chief Advocacy Officer, the Reform Alliance and David Safavian, general counsel and deputy director of the Center for Criminal Justice Reform with the American Conservative Union.

David Safavian
David Safavian, general counsel and deputy director of the Center for Criminal Justice Reform with the American Conservative Union, appears on Smart Talk, October 28, 2019.


Also, when President Trump took office, renegotiating U.S. trade deals was one of his priorities. Trade negotiators revised the 25-year old NAFTA agreement in 2018, and it is now officially known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Mexico ratified the terms last summer and Canada is reportedly ready to sign the deal but is waiting on U.S. Congressional approval.

So, why is it taking so long for Congress to act?

Appearing on Smart Talk Monday to provide an industry perspective is Linda Dempsey, Vice President of International Affairs policy for the National Association of Manufacturers.

Linda Dempsey, Vice President of International Affairs policy for the National Association of Manufacturers, appears on Smart Talk, October 28, 2019.



Shining a spotlight on PA campaign spending

A year-long investigation by journalists with Spotlight PA and The Caucus uncovered an uncomfortable truth behind Pennsylvania campaign finance laws. The truth is that while candidates must keep records of their expenses, they don’t have to offer any spending details unless specifically asked.

The implication is that hiding in the law’s ambiguity are questionable financial transactions, according to the reports. The investigation found high-price dinners, liquor, sporting events and even club memberships listed as campaign expenses.

Sam Janesch and Angela Couloumbis
Sam Janesch and Angela Couloumbis appear on Smart Talk on October 29, 2019.

Joining Smart Talk Tuesday to provide background on the investigative series are reporters Angela Couloumbis of Spotlight PA and Sam Janesch of The Caucus.

Also, the York County History Center will feature acclaimed historian and Presidential author H.W. Brands, Ph.D., as part of their Distinguished Speaker Series next month.

Brands will present on Ronald Reagan, the subject of one of the author’s many books.

H.W. Brands will appear on Smart Talk Tuesday to discuss his books and role in numerous documentaries.

Election coverage on WITF is supported by the law firm of Saul, Ewing, Arnstein & Lehr.

H.W. Brands
Historian and author H.W. Brands, Ph.D., appears on Smart Talk October 29, 2019.

Pennsylvania’s forests; our woods at work

The forest products industry in Pennsylvania is big business, with a state-wide economic impact of $19 billion. Pennsylvania leads the nation as the largest producer of hardwood lumber and as an exporter of wood products.

Hardwoods are deciduous trees that have broad leaves and produce a fruit or nut. Types of hardwood trees include oak, maple, ash and cherry. Each tree offers unique grain patterns and colors, and their wood can be crafted into durable, finished products.

Woods at work
Jason Albright, Wayne Bender and Luke Dillinger appear on Smart Talk on October 25, 2019.

There are more than 250 timbering operations in Pennsylvania, most of which are small, family-size operations. In order to sustain the health and viability of forested land and the wood products industry Governor Tom Wolf convened a Green Ribbon Task Force. Several members of the Task Force appear on Friday’s Smart Talk.

Joining the discussion are Jason Albright, assistant Pennsylvania State Forester, Luke Dillinger, wood procurement and forest certification manager for Domtar Paper Co., and Wayne Bender, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Hardwoods Development Council.

Also, Lancaster city welcomes the Red Rose Film Festival to the community next week. The festival is a promotion of independent films and will take place from November 1 – 3. There are 76 films in total, including 10 feature length narratives, 28 short narratives, 18 documentaries and 20 student films. The films cover a variety of genres and are hosted at multiple locations throughout the area.

Red Rose Film Festival
Ryan Shank and Scott Lentz appear on Smart Talk on October 25, 2019.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss the festival is Ryan Shank, Executive Director of the Red Rose Film Festival and Scott Lentz, local director and filmmaker.

Finally, Hedy Lamarr was an iconic movie star in the 1930s through the 1950s, who was known for her glamour and beauty. But she also was an inventor of technology that is instrumental in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth today.

Heather Massie, who has ties to Central Pennsylvania, wrote and performs the one-person play called Hedy: The Life and Inventions of Hedy Lamarr. In the last three years, Heather has performed as Hedy for audiences around the world. This weekend, she’ll bring Hedy to the Gamut Theatre in Harrisburg but not before appearing on Friday’s Smart Talk.

Hedy Lamarr
Writer and performer Heather Massie appears on Smart Talk on October 25, 2019.

Breast Cancer Awareness; are we making progress?

The statistics are alarming: nearly one in eight U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over her lifetime. This year it is estimated that 268,600 new cases will be diagnosed. For Pennsylvania, the CDC ranks the state 11 out of 50 in breast cancer occurrences 

Although, breast cancer is the most common and one of the deadliest forms of the disease, there has been tremendous research and treatment advances, too.

Friends Like Me Care Package

Smart Talk

Friends Like Me Care Package

New genetic testing allows doctors better insight into a person’s genetic likelihood of developing cancer. Surgeons have developed ways to remove tumors with greater accuracy, while minimizing scar tissue and complications. And many patients now receive targeted radiation therapy for shorter periods of time than in the past.  

Appearing on Thursday’s Smart Talk to discuss breast cancer awareness month and their organizations initiatives are, Pat Halpin-Murphy, President and Founder of the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition and Leigh Hurst, founder and executive director of the Feel Your Boobies Foundation.  

Leigh Hurst and Pat Halpin-Murphey appear on Smart Talk October 24, 2019

Smart Talk

Leigh Hurst and Pat Halpin-Murphey appear on Smart Talk October 24, 2019

Also, legislation is being considered at the State Capitol designed to drive the pet market in Pennsylvania toward more humane sources by prohibiting the sale of commercially raised dogs, cats and rabbits in pet stores, and increase transparency by requiring sellers to include identifying information in advertisements. It’s called Victoria’s Law and we’ll discuss it on Smart Talk with guests Kristen Tull, Pennsylvania State director of the Humane Society of the United States, Heather Mitts, a three-time Olympic gold medalist as part of the U.S. women’s national soccer team and animal advocate, and Dr. John Rossi, V.M.D., Humane Society Veterinarian Association Representative.

Bosnian enclave thrives far from the shadow of genocide

In early 1992, the government of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina declared independence from Yugoslavia and ethnic tensions in the country rose to a crisis point.

Bosnian Serb forces, with the backing of the Serb-dominated Yugoslav army, began a campaign to expel all Bosnian Muslims and Croatian civilians, resulting in the murder and disappearance of thousands of people, mostly men and boys. Over the next few years, nearly 100,000 people were killed.

In the years after the war, an International Criminal Tribunal (ICTY) was established to adjudicate Bosnian war crimes. One trial continues to make headlines with the PBS Frontline documentary on the notorious general accused of genocide and war crimes: The trial of Ratko Mladic

The PBS documentary aired last year and featured the lead prosecutor for the Tribunal, Dickinson Law professor Dermot Groome. The documentary garnered the attention of Bosnian refugees who settled in central Pennsylvania after the war. The group, and their advocates, wanted to use the film as an opportunity to talk about their history and thank the communities who welcomed them as refugees.

Appearing on Smart Talk to share their experiences are the Rev. Jeff Gibelius, Pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church, Carlisle, Elvir Sejmenovic, Refugee, and Mersida Camdzic, a Refugee and community business owner. The film and public event will take place on Saturday, October 26, at the Dickinson College Schlecter auditorium.


Justin Kocis

Elvir Sejmenovic, Refugee, and Mersida Camdzic, refugee, and Rev. Jeff Gibelius, Pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church, Carlisle, appears on Smart Talk, October 23, 2019.

Also, Dickinson College is nationally recognized for its sustainability efforts. The College recently hosted a sustainability summit that brought together colleges and universities to discuss how simple behavior changes can impact climate change.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss how college campuses can lead the way to behavior change are Lindsey Lyons, the assistant director of Dickinson’s Center for Sustainability Education and Kevin Green, senior director of Rare’s Center for Behavior and the Environment.

Where have all of the birds gone?

Bird watchers and scientists are sounding the alarm over the findings of a recently released assessment of North American bird populations.

The study was published in the October edition of Science and it details a wide-spread bird population decline over the past 50 years.The bird population has gone from roughly 10 billion to just over 7 billion now.

The observations show that the loss is not just among rare or threatened species, but also affects more common birds with large territories. The numbers, in real terms, amount to a loss of one in every four birds.

The study was conducted by researchers at seven institutions and it highlights a concern about the environment’s ability to support even our most common bird species.

So, what is causing this precipitous decline? The research points to a combination of factors that include habitat loss, fewer insects, toxic pesticides and outdoor feral and pet cats.

Left to Right: Ron Rohrbaugh, David Barber, Daniel R. Ardia, Ph.D

Appearing on Tuesday’s Smart Talk to help illustrate the issues are Dan Ardia, Professor of biology, Franklin & Marshall College and President of the Association of Field Ornithologists, David Barber, Senior Research Biologist at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, and Ronald Rohrbaugh, Director, Conservation Science and Forest programs with Audubon Pennsylvania.

“Birds are indicators of the environment. If they are in trouble, we know we’ll soon be in trouble.” – Roger Tory Peterson , 1908-1996, American ornithologist

Food allergies can be life-threatening

Halloween is fast approaching and trick-or-treaters will be ringing doorbells for candy. However, due to a rise in food allergies in young children, not all candy is suitable.

A food allergy a medical condition in which exposure to a food triggers a harmful and potentially deadly immune response. Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include hives, eczema flares, nausea, and stomach pain. Anaphylactic reactions can be life threatening and most commonly require an epinephrine injection; an EpiPen.

In the United States, milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and crustacean shellfish make up the eight major food allergens which are responsible for the most serious reactions. More than 5.5 million kids under the age of 18 have a food allergy, and 40 percent of those kids have two or more food allergies. Around 32 million Americans live with a food allergy, that’s nearly 11 percent of the population.

Currently, there are no known cures for allergies. But there are medical studies and potentially new drugs to help lessen the severity peanut allergies, in particular. Although not a cure, it’s a step in the right direction.

Lisa Gable
Lisa Gable, CEO of Food Allergy Research and Education, appears on Smart Talk, October 21, 2019.

Want to help? Join the Teal Pumpkin Project. This is a nationwide movement which offers alternative treats for trick-or-treaters. Place a teal pumpkin outside your home to signify you have non-food treats to offer visitors.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss food allergy awareness are guests Katie Noss, a school nurse and mother of a peanut allergy child, Lisa Gable, CEO of Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), and Dr. Krista Todoric, MD., Penn State Hershey Allergy Asthma and Immunology.


Dr. Todoric wanted to follow up on her comments about “leaky gut” —

“Leaky gut” is a term that is not generally used by clinicians and, while meant to describe an altered process of digestion and absorption, is generally not an accepted medical diagnosis. We, in allergy and immunology, do use the term “leaky” descriptively in association with an immunodeficiency diagnosed in infancy.

Food Allergy
Katie Noss, a school nurse and mother of a peanut allergy child, and Dr. Krista Todoric, MD., Penn State Hershey Allergy Asthma and Immunology, appears on Smart Talk, October 21, 2019.

Recreational marijuana in Pennsylvania – what happens next?

Recreational marijuana is a hot-button issue in Pennsylvania.

Governor Wolf recently came out in favor of legalizing cannabis for recreational use. Wolf arrived at this position following Lt. Governor John Fetterman’s 67-county listening tour. As part of the tour, Fetterman participated in town-hall style meetings to gauge the support for legalizing marijuana and found that of those who “voiced their opinions, the majority supported legalization.”

Lt. Gov

Justin Kocis

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, appears on Smart Talk, October 18, 2019.

The tour results are consistent with a March Franklin & Marshall College Poll that shows 59 percent, or nearly seven in 10 voters, support the idea of legalizing marijuana.

Already there are 33 states and the District of Columbia that have legalized marijuana use in some form. Many of these states, like Pennsylvania, allow for limited medical use.

Not everyone is on board the legalization train. Many organizations have voiced their opposition, like the American Lung AssociationCenters for Disease Control, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, who cite statistics showing the impact of marijuana on physical and mental health. Their position is that just because it is legal in many states, doesn’t mean it is safe.

This week, two Pennsylvania Democratic state senators introduced legislation that would legalize adult marijuana use. Any legislation could face a roadblock in a Republican controlled senate.

Appearing on Smart Talk Friday to discuss the administration’s support for legalizing recreational marijuana is Lt. Gov. John Fetterman.

Lt. Gov

Justin Kocis

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, appears on Smart Talk, October 18, 2019.