Pa. State Parks offering hikes for new year

What do you think about starting 2022 with a hike through nature at a Pennsylvania State Park? The State Department of Conservation and Natural resources is hosting more than 50, free guided hikes at 37 state parks on New Year’s Day.

The hikes usually are about one or two miles, but can be longer depending on the park and its terrain, according to DCNR.

We’ll learn more about First Day Hikes on Thursday’s Smart Talk with Christine Ticehurst, our Recreation and Interpretation Program Coordinator who oversees the First Day Hikes program, Kimberly Peck and Renae Weidner, environmental education specialists at Laurel Hill and Codorus state parks.

New book details NRA’s missteps

The National Rifle Association is one of the nation’s most powerful lobbying organizations and probably most responsible for stopping any new significant gun laws.

However, the NRA has gone through a series of major financial and legal setbacks in recent years. They include filing for bankruptsy, accusations of financial mismanagement by high-ranking NRA officials, which led to defending itself in an investigation by the New York State Attorney General and dozens of resignations.

NPR’s Washington Investigative Correspondent Tim Mak is on Thursday’s Smart Talk to discuss his new book Misfire Inside the Downfall of the NRA.

Thousands of WWII soldiers’ opinions released to the public

Most Americans probably believe we have learned everything there is to know about World War II since it ended more than 76 years ago. But the public release two weeks ago of what is known as The American Soldier in World War II has provided hundreds of thousands of viewpoints from American troops on their combat experiences, race, and mental and physical health.

During the war, the U.S. Army administered surveys to more than half a million American troops.

The results were closely guarded until now. Sixty-five thousand pages of uncensored opinions have been released.

Some of the unvarnished opinions have raised eyebrows as soldiers complained about or criticized the military, the press and racial, ethnic and religious groups.

Muhlenberg College professor of media and communications Jefferson Pooley is on the project’s advisory board and is with us on Wednesday’s Smart Talk.

Groups go to court against Senate election review

Last month State Senate Republicans agreed to pay an Iowa consulting firm $270,000 over the next six months to review the 2020 election in Pennsylvania. They say the review is designed to determine the flaws that exist in the election system and fix them through legislation.

Skeptics argue the real impetus for the effort is to satisfy former President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of election fraud.

Three advocacy organizations and eight voters have gone to court to fight a subpoena issued by the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee that wants voters’ names, addresses, dates of birth, driver’s license numbers and partial social security numbers.

On Wednesday’s Smart Talk, we’re joined by Robin Roberts – one of the voters challenging the subpoena – and Vic Walczak, the American Civil Liberties Union- Pennsylvania legal director to explain their opposition to providing the information.

Affordable housing is on everyone’s wish-list

Finding affordable housing can be difficult. As inflation and the cost of living increases, so do home prices and rent.

For low-income families or individuals with limited resources, affordable housing might seem like an impossible dream.

There is an organization in the mid-state that has spent the past 50 years helping people find safe, welcoming and affordable places to live. HDC MidAtlantic, headquartered in Lancaster, manages a partnership of advocates, developers, property managers and community partners to offer affordable solutions.

Dana Hanchin, is HDC MidAtlantic’s CEO and President and she appears on Smart Talk Tuesday, along with HDC MidAtlantic’s Vice President of Resident Services Debbie Gable to offer insight to the challenges, and solutions, people face finding affordable housing.

Native American paths have become state parks in Pa.

Pennsylvania has 141 state parks and forests. About half of them have names or paths that derive from Native American tribes that once lived in Pennsylvania. In fact, some of the state parks grew out of American Indian paths.

Indigenous people lived in what is now Pennsylvania for at least 20,000 years and European colonists for just 400, so there is a lot of history on the land that is now a state park or forest.

Tuesday’s Smart Talk addresses that history with Angie Jaillet-Wentling, a cultural resources programs coordinator with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of State Parks and Ashley Barry, a park ranger working at the Laurel Hill State Park Complex.



Pa. Physician General has tips on avoiding COVID and flu during holidays

Many families and friends will be gathering over the next two weeks to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s. It comes at a time when COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Pennsylvania.

The state’s Acting Physician General, Dr. Denise Johnson joins us on Monday’s Smart Talk to provide tips and advice on how to stay safe and avoid COVID and the flu during the holidays.

Why are so many jobs going unfilled and what happened to all those who quit?

There have been several explanations or narratives about why millions of jobs are going unfilled. There are about four million more job openings than unemployed people in the U.S. right now. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, there are 11 million job openings and almost 6.9 million unemployed.

At the same time, millions of American workers quit their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic looking for higher pay, better working conditions or careers in which they’d be happier. What happened to them all?

Why does there seem to be a disconnect between employers and would-be employees?

Washington Post economics correspondent Heather Long is on Monday’s Smart Talk with some answers.

Monday’s program is part of WITF’s Careers That Work project,an ongoing, evolving multimedia initiative highlighting workforce development in south central Pennsylvania. It is supported by Tech Link South Central PA Consortium for Career and Technical Education. Learn more at


Harrisburg University professor names newly discovered dinosaurs

Only about half of the dinosaurs have lived on Earth more than 60 million years ago have been named. So, it’s big news when a new species is discovered or named.

Harrisburg University of Science and Technology professor of Environmental Science and Sustainability Steven Jasinski, PhD. has named or helped name seven different dinosaur species, including two in the last year.

Jasinski joins us on Friday’s Smart Talk to discuss paleoantology and discovering and naming dinosaurs.

State proposes retirement plan for those who don’t have one or can’t get one through employer

Most American workers have some type of retirement plan through their employer, but many don’t. Most employers who don’t offer the rare nowadays defined pension or a 401K plan are small businesses. Usually the cost of a retirement plan is what keeps them from making it available to their employees.

The Pennsylvania State Treasury has come up with a program for workers who don’t have access to an employer sponsored retirement plan.

It’s called Keystone Saves and it would allow employees to contribute to their retirement at no cost to the employer.

State Treasurer Stacy Garrity appears on Friday’s Smart Talk to explain Keystone Saves along with John Scott, Director of the Retirement Savings Project – The Pew Charitable Trusts