Fixing Pennsylvania’s pollution problem in the Chesapeake Bay stifled by underfunding

Everyone loves the Chesapeake Bay; the natural beauty, recreation opportunities, the bountiful fish and wildlife. But appreciating the Chesapeake will not fix Pennsylvania’s pollution problem.

Pennsylvania’s role in polluting the Bay is well documented and a continuing source of friction with other watershed states. In fact, the state of Maryland is suing the Commonwealth for not doing enough to reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.

A report by environmental advocates cite chronic underfunding as a major cause of the state’s failure to meet pollution reduction milestones. Joining Smart Talk Friday to highlight policy recommendations to help restore the Bay are Ezra Thrush, Senior Director of Government Affairs, PennFuture, along with Renee Reber, Campaign Manager, Watershed Advocacy with PennFuture.

Area Eagle Scouts tackle big projects to earn the honor

Two central Pennsylvania teens have achieved scouting’s highest award, tackling big projects and, in one case, earning national recognition.

Scout Casey Essig, of Mount Holly Springs, PA., Boy Scout Troop 170, was recognized recently for his efforts to honor veteran’s gravesites in a Mount Holly cemetery. Through painstaking research, he discovered the cemetery held the remains of service members from the War of 1812, Civil War, Korean War, Spanish American War, Vietnam, WWI and WWII, many not properly marked with flag holders.

Eagle Scout Christopher Adam, of Mechanicsburg, PA., New Birth of Freedom Council, also focused his project on Veterans and recognizes the contributions of America’s “greatest generation.

Adam was selected for the Glenn A. and Melinda W. Adams National Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year Award for 2020 for the memorial called Liberation Pointe, consisting of two bronze statues enclosed within a marble pentagon. The memorial stands at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Middlesex Township.

Both Essig and Adam appear on Smart Talk Friday to share the inspiration behind their projects.

Eagle Scout Casey Essig speaks to a crowd gathered for the Memorial Day ceremony recognizing Veterans buried at the Mount Holly Springs cemetery.


Eagle Scout Christopher Adam stands at the Liberation Pointe memorial at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Middlesex Township.

Cybersecurity should be a huge priority after events of last few weeks – Also on the program: New book details how military vets recover with the help of nature

Cyber criminals and even foreign governments are constantly working to obtain online data they can use — whether it be for money or sabotage.

Just in recent weeks, more than eight billion passwords were leaked in a popular hacker forum. There’s a decent chance yours are among them.

Meanwhile, the Colonial oil pipeline and JBS meat suppliers were the targets of ransomware attacks. Colonial paid $4.4 million to get their data held hostage restored. The FBI has since recovered the ransom but ransomware is a growing threat to many of the most essentials aspects of our lives.

How is this happening and what can be done to stop it?

Joining us on Thursday’s Smart Talk to discuss cybersecurity are Terrill Frantz, Ph.D., Ed.D., Professor of eBusiness and Cybersecurity with Harrisburg University of Science and Technology and Brandon S. Keath, Professor of Cybersecurity Operations and Management with Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.

New book details how military vets recover with the help of nature

A walk in the woods or paddling in a kayak are how many of us relax in the outdoors. For military veterans who have suffered trauma, anxiety or addiction — either in combat or in their personal lives — the outdoors could be life saving.

So writes Cindy Ross in her new book Walking Toward Peace: Veterans Healing on America’s Trails.

In the book, Ross tells the stories of veterans who were suffering but were able to find peace and change their lives in the outdoors — often referred to as ecotherapy.

Cindy Ross appears on Thursday’s Smart Talk.



High-stakes case load lands on Supreme Court docket – Casino eyes Shippensburg as other communities say no to the games

The U.S. Supreme Court takes on high-stake cases on the June docket, likely holding the most important ones until the end of the term.

Most observers count four potentially big decisions; those decisions that have the highest notoriety. Cases involving religious liberty, abortion rights and an election law case are getting most of the attention.

Michael Moreland, JD., Ph.D., Professor of Law and Religion and Director of the Eleanor H. McCullen Center for Law, Religion and Public Policy with the Villanova University School of Law appears on Smart Talk Wednesday to provide analysis of the Court’s docket and the impact certain decisions could make.

Casino eyes Shippensburg as other communities say no to the games

There are two sides to every argument and the case of a mini casino license in Shippensburg is no different.

Advocates and opponents to the Parx Casino application met at a public hearing in May to present final arguments for and against the facility before the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board makes a final decision on the matter.

Two other Central Pennsylvania communities have already declined the casino and opponents want Shippensburg to do the same.

Rev. Jim Rogers is the senior pastor with the Shippensburg First Church of God and an active member of the Shippensburg United group who oppose the casino. He appears on Smart Talk Wednesday, along with Wayne Gruver, a member of Shippensburg United, to share their arguments.

Vaccine incentives: Do prize drawings and rewards increase vaccination rates?

Pennsylvanians may be familiar with Gus the “spokesgroundhog,” selling instant scratch-off lottery tickets on TV. Nowadays, he may not be nearly as popular as the lottery offerings that are directed at the newly vaccinated.

Ohio made headlines with Vax-a-Million, where any Ohioan who has received a least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine can enter to win a $1 million lottery prize drawing. Not to be outdone, New York, Maryland and California are also incentivizing vaccines through cash drawings. On Monday, Philadelphia joined the list of places running sweepstakes. Businesses are also getting in on the action: United Airlines is now offering frequent flier miles for the newly vaccinated.

Do lotteries and incentives actually increase vaccination rates? There is science behind the initiatives. Appearing on Smart Talk Tuesday to share details of their study are Nick Clark, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science and Director of Public Policy, Susquehanna University, along with Matt Rousu, Ph.D., Professor of Economics and Dean of the Sigmund Weis School of Business, Susquehanna University.

Flight 93 Heroes Award to recognize selfless acts of heroism

As the country approaches the twentieth anniversary of 9/11, the Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania is working to keep the memory of that day alive.

They are sponsoring an annual award in honor of the heroes of Flight 93, who are credited with taking control of the highjacked jetliner targeting the U.S. Capitol Building, home to the United States Congress. The Flight 93 Heroes Award will recognize selfless acts of heroism and keep the memory alive of the sacrifice of the 40 passengers and crew members on that fateful flight.

Donna Gibson, President of the Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial, will appear on Smart Talk Tuesday to offer details about the award and nation-wide nomination process.

Gun violence plagues York City and police deal with dozens of shootings – Also on the program: Vaccination rates don’t tell the whole picture, as virus spreads fast among the unvaccinated

Gun violence is on the increase across the country and very close to home.

The City of York, in particular, is on pace for around 70 shootings in 2021 — a number similar to last year. Just last Tuesday, a 15-year-old boy was shot.

What are the factors contributing to so much violence and what can be done to stop it?

York City Police Commissioner Michael Muldrow says it will take the whole community and not just police in an enforcement role. Commissioner Muldrow appears on Monday’s Smart Talk with ideas on the causes of the violence and strategies to make the community safer.

Vaccination rates don’t tell the whole picture, as virus spreads fast among the unvaccinated

More than half of all Pennsylvanians 18 and over are now fully vaccinated, which gets the state closer to the 70 percent goal set by Governor Wolf.

Health officials are pleased with the state’s progress, but are also concerned about vaccination rates slowing and individuals and demographic groups electing not to receive the vaccine at all.

A recent Washington Post report shows that vaccination rates don’t tell the whole picture and that data indicates the virus is spreading fast among the unvaccinated.

Dan Keating is a Washington Post Investigative journalist and he joins us on Smart Talk Monday to talk about the report.

For more on public health issues 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.


Coping with reopening anxiety – Communities planning events and exhibits

To mask or not to mask — attend or not attend. Pennsylvanians have options as pandemic restrictions ease and the state, and country, return to “normal.”

That doesn’t mean it will be easy to shed the anxiety that came along with the mitigation protocols. In fact, for some people who have experienced loss or a death, they may also be dealing with trauma when trying to go back into community life.

Professionals offer tips, like starting slow and establishing boundaries to maintain personal comfort levels. Tom Crotty, Ph.D., is a Clinical Psychologist with WellSpan Philhaven and he appears on Smart Talk Friday to offer additional coping strategies.

For more on mental health issues 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.

Communities opening up with events and exhibits

As Pennsylvania emerges from mitigation restrictions, community organizations and arts events are being scheduled. Opening safely, while transitioning out of pandemic restrictions, is top of mind for organizers.

Joining Smart Talk Friday to share their plans for the summer are Kelley Gibson, President, Cultural Alliance of York County; Julie Hill, Downtown Director with the Camp Hill Borough and Summer Soiree organizer; Bill Allis, owner and director of the Bower Native Garden and Sculpture Park in Shermans Dale, PA.; Rebecca Rutstein, multidisciplinary artist whose work includes painting, sculpture, interactive installation and public art experiences; Dave Wauls, President of the Long’s Park Amphitheater in Lancaster; Mike Pries, Commissioner with Dauphin County who represents Fort Hunter Mansion and Park.


Vaccines and privacy – Bill to ban vaccine passport – Daylight Saving

There is a lot of debate about the importance of privacy and the role of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 regarding vaccination status.

Can an employer ask you if you’ve been vaccinated? What about schools? Do travel companies and other countries have a right to know your status?

People often incorrectly cite HIPAA as a reason to maintain privacy, misunderstanding what the law allows and what it protects.

John DeLorenzo is the associate general counsel for UPMC Central Pa. Region and he joins Smart Talk Thursday to talk about HIPAA misinformation.

Legislation advances that would ban authorities from requiring ‘vaccine passports’

A bill to ban government authorities from requiring people show their vaccination status passed the state Senate Health and Human Services committee last month.

Republican state Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill of York County sponsored the bill, which would prohibit “the requirement of vaccine passports,” according to her memo.

Phillips-Hill noted that Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf repeatedly has said he has no plan to require a proof of vaccination. This legislation would make sure that doesn’t change, she said.

Brett Sholtis, WITF Transforming Health reporter appears on Smart Talk Thursday to offer more details.

For more on public health issues 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.

A push to increase oversight and transparency of Pa. fracking industry – Also on the program: Understanding Electric Vehicle Technology

Pennsylvania is the second largest producer of natural gas in the country and Democrats in the legislature say that the industry has boomed with little accountability to the impact it is making on communities.

There are known risks to fracking, to include the contamination of ground water, risk of chemical spills, and air pollution impacts.

Senate Democrats are introducing a package of bills they say will make concrete changes to reduce the health and safety risks to Pennsylvania communities.

Joining Smart Talk Wednesday to outline the recommendations is Democratic State Senator Maria Collett of Bucks and Montgomery County.

Electric vehicles hit the roadways, what should we know about the technology

President Biden threw his support behind electric vehicle technology recently, by including transition incentives in the $2 trillion infrastructure plan. When General Motors announced that by 2035 they will only make electric vehicles, it became clear this isn’t a fad.

Electric vehicle technology is being called the biggest revolution in motoring since Henry Ford’s production line first started.

So, what is all of the excitement about and what should we understand about the technology?

Christopher Van Stavoren is an Assistant Professor in Automotive Technology with the Pennsylvania College of Technology and he appears on Smart Talk Wednesday to share the fundamentals about electric vehicles.




Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month – New book details the importance of movement and music in battling brain disease

Listen to Smart Talk every weekday at 9am and 7pm on WITF 89.5 & 93.3. You can also stream WITF radio live on our website or ask your smart speaker to “Play WITF Radio.”

Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month is recognized in June. Although a cure and even effective treatments for Alzheimers disease remain elusive, researchers continue efforts to find treatments to stop or delay the disease progression.

Appearing on Smart Talk Tuesday to share important statistics and what is on the horizon for treating the disease are Clay Jacobs, Executive Director, Greater Pennsylvania Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, along with board member Kris Hansen-Kieffer, Ed.D., Vice Provost for Student Success & Engagement/Assistant Professor of Exercise Physiology at Messiah University.

New book details the importance of movement and music in battling brain disease

In a new book, author Jem Spectar writes about the looming threat of neurodegenerative diseases, and that he believes people at risk should develop a plan of action to fight against these incurable disorders.

He argues that scientific research reveals how movement, exercise, and dance therapy are helping people in their struggle against brain diseases and that others can benefit from understanding the medicinal impact of rhythmic movement.

Author Jem Spectar, Ph.D., President of the University of Pittsburgh Johnstown, appears on Smart Talk Tuesday to share highlights of his book, Movement + Music = Medicine: Fight Alzheimer’s, Dementia & Parkinson’s.

For more on brain health issues 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.

Recommended summer reads for enjoying the season

Pennsylvanians are starting to emerge from pandemic restrictions and take much-needed weekends away or vacations with family.

This is a great opportunity to talk about summer reading and books for the beach (if you’re fortunate to head that way).

Every summer, Smart Talk produces a program that focuses on books with a panel of area wordsmiths to share their summer book recommendations; from popular new releases to literary classics, fiction and nonfiction. These books will keep you entertained for the summer to come.

We’d also like to hear about a few of the books you’re planning to read this summer. Call the program at 1-800-729-7532 or email us at

Joining Smart Talk Thursday are Catherine Lawrence, a writer and owner of the Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg, Travis Kurowski, Ph.D., an assistant professor of English and coordinator of creative writing at York College of Pennsylvania and Carolyn Blatchley, Executive Director of Cumberland County Library System.

Reading Lists:

Catherine Lawrence book list

Travis Kurowski book list

Carolyn Blatchley book list

Listener book recommendations