Smart Talk’s books for summer reading


What to look for on Smart Talk, Monday, June 10, 2019:

A good book is the best sidekick to any summer vacation, whether it’s a beach weekend, family road trip, or faraway escape.

Smart Talk welcomes a panel of area wordsmiths to share their summer book recommendations, from popular new releases to literary classics. We’d also like to hear about a few of the books you’re reading this summer. Call the program at 1-800-729-7532 or email us at

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Catherine Lawrence and Travis Kurowski

Joining Smart Talk are Catherine Lawrence, a writer and owner of the Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg and Travis Kurowski, an assistant professor of English and coordinator of creative writing at York College of Pennsylvania.

Reading Lists

Dickinson President Margee Ensign / Being a generalist / Gov. Steve Bullock

What to look for on Smart Talk, June 7, 2019:

Founded in 1783 by Dr. Benjamin Rush, Dickinson College was the first college chartered in the new United States of America. Today, the Carlisle liberal arts institution has just over 2200 students to whom the college seeks to provide a “useful” education. 

Some of Dickinson’s current areas of focus are campus sustainability, student recruitment, and major fundraising. 

Dr. Margee Ensign took office as Dickinson’s 29th president in July 2017. Ensign served previously as President of the American University in Nigeria and is an international political economy scholar whose work focuses on challenges of international development, as well as on the implications of development assistance. 

She joins us on Friday’s Smart Talk to discuss her vision for Dickinson College and her thoughts on current issues facing the higher education landscape. 

Also, a push towards specialization is prevalent in arenas ranging from managing the economy to raising children. In his new book Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, author David Epstein argues that, for successful individuals from Nobel laureates to professional athletes, specialization is the exception, not the rule, and that dabbling and failing can be keys to success. He appears on Smart Talk to discuss these ideas. 

Finally, Montana Governor Steve Bullock is one of 24 candidates seeking the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential election. He joins Smart Talk to discuss his positions on the issues and his path to the nomination.

Smart Talk road trip to the Eisenhower National Historic Site

What to look for on Smart Talk, June 6, 2019:

Seventy-five years ago today, General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s order set in motion a massive ground, sea, and air invasion of Europe called Operation Overlord. As the Supreme Commander of Allied Expeditionary Forces in WWII, he spearheaded the planning and eventual success of the invasion that would turn the tide of the war.

Eisenhower returned to civilian life after the war until conflict on the Korean Peninsula brought him back into uniform for a time. In 1952, Ike, as he would become known, turned to national politics and was eventually elected the 34th president of the United States.

President Eisenhower bought a Gettysburg farm in 1950, but his association with the town and battlefield actually began while he was a West Point cadet.

Today, Smart Talk takes a road trip to the Eisenhower National Historic Site and the home and farm of General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Appearing on the Smart Talk to discuss the site and the D-Day anniversary are John Heiser, historian at Gettysburg National Military Park, Tim Lambert, WITF News director and D-Day story producer, Alyce Evans, National Park Service guide, and Michael Birkner, professor of history Gettysburg College.

Consul General of Canada and the 75th anniversary of D-Day

What to look for on Smart Talk, June 5, 2019:

Pennsylvania exported $10.3 billion worth of products to Canada in 2017. Chemicals and machinery led the way.

A year ago, trade relations between the U.S. and Canada had reached a critical phase.

Canada had imposed tariffs on some American imports in retaliation for President Trump ordering tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from Canada.

Now a new trade agreement is on the table.

The United States, Mexico, and Canada have reached an agreement to update the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which is now called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)

The Consul General of Canada in New York Phyllis Yaffe is on Wednesday’s Smart Talk to discuss how the new agreement impacts Pennsylvania and the U.S.

Also, commemorations marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day are taking place this week around the country and the world. This remembrance on June 6 has been called the “final salute,” as few if any veterans from WWII will live to share the 100th anniversary.

In The First Wave: The D-Day Warriors Who Led the Way to Victory in World War II, historian Alex Kershaw provides a new take on one of the most important days of the 20th century. He joins us on Wednesday’s Smart Talk to discuss the book.

What Lt. Gov. Fetterman learned on pot tour/PA’s climate goals

What to look for on Smart Talk, June 4, 2019:

Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman recently concluded a listening tour that made 70 stops across 67 counties to hear the opinions of Pennsylvanians on legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes.

Recreational marijuana has been legalized in 10 states and decriminalized in 15 more, but federal law still makes possession illegal across the country.  Pennsylvania legalized marijuana for medical purposes in 2016, but recreational use remains unlawful across the Commonwealth.

The 2019 Pennsylvania Health Poll found that 51 percent of Pennsylvanians favor the complete legalization of marijuana, the first time in the history of that poll.

Lieutenant Governor Fetterman joins us on Tuesday’s Smart Talk to discuss his takeaways from the tour.

Also, Pennsylvania recently joined the U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of states working to implement policies to uphold the United States’ commitments to reduce emissions that were part of the Paris Climate Accords. President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement soon after taking office.

As part of this effort, Pennsylvania has adopted a Climate Action Plan, and, in January, Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order to set Pennsylvania’s first statewide climate goals, aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050, compared with 2005 levels.

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss the Commonwealth’s approach to climate policy is Patrick McDonnell, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Economics of a soda tax / Replacing PA voting machines

What to look for on Smart Talk, Monday, June 3, 2019:

Philadelphia made national headlines when it implemented a tax on sugary-sweetened beverages, known more commonly as the “soda tax.”

In defending the tax, Mayor Jim Kenney argued that it would not only benefit the city’s bottom line, but it would encourage people to reduce soda consumption and create a revenue stream that would support the very neighborhoods in which soda consumption is highest. 

A team of researchers recently studied what would be the optimal soda tax if it were to be implemented nationwide and recommended a levy of 1-2.1 cents per ounce. They say the resulting reduction in soda consumption would reduce the prevalence of a host of diseases such as diabetes, which could help both consumers and the government and funds programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss the research findings is Dr. Benjamin Lockwood, Assistant Professor of Business Economics & Public Policy in the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

Also, Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration told all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties that they need to have new voting machines in place by the 2020 election.

PA Post reporters Emily Previti and Ed Mahon recently looked at who stands to profit from that requirement. Ed Mahon appears on Smart Talk.

Hives and honey / PA State Animal Response Team


What to look for on Smart Talk, Friday, May 17, 2019:

Bees are nature’s most prolific, and important, pollinators.

Their intrinsic value to global ecosystems and commercial agriculture cannot be overstated. More than 75 percent of all food crops and nearly 90 percent of wild plants need animal pollinators to some degree.

Bees and other natural pollinators are under threat and are disappearing rapidly. Habitat loss is a primary cause, along with pesticides and global climate change.


Comparison of bees (Photos of bumblebee and honeybee in public domain, photos of wasp and hornet courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Appearing on Smart Talk to discuss the role of honey bees and beekeeping are members of the York County Beekeepers Association, which is celebrating 100 years of bee-advocacy. Many restaurants in downtown York are also participating in Restaurant Honey Week from May 18-May 25. Joining the conversation is David Papke, chairman of the Centennial Celebration Committee and a 40-year beekeeper, Jeremy Barnes, past-president of YCBA, and Gary Anderson, president of York County Beekeeper’s Association.

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Jeremy Barnes, David Papke and Gary Anderson

Also, animals are especially vulnerable when disasters strike.

In the late 1990’s, Hurricane Floyd decimated parts of the Southeastern U.S. Millions of animals perished and thousands were separated from their owners.

North Carolina recognized that many animals could have been saved if there was some type of coordinated response. So they developed a plan for future emergencies.

In 2004, Pennsylvania followed suit and launched a State Animal Response Team (PASART) to prepare for natural and other animal-related events.


SART members pulling a horse dummy out of water, as part of the team’s animal-related rescue services training.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss their unique mission are Sarah Speed, executive director of the Pennsylvania State Animal Response Team and Ed Kraus, director of advancement.

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Sarah Speed and Ed Kraus

Alzheimer’s research and local Fulbright scholar

Every minute, someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s disease.

It is the sixth leading cause of death in this country, resulting in more deaths than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.

Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that specifically affects parts of the brain that control thought, memory and language. Scientists continue to develop new methods to understand this disease and treat those living with it. One of those scientists is Dr. Keith Fargo, the director of scientific programs and outreach at the Alzheimer’s Association.

Fargo oversees the TrialMatch program: a way for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias to connect with clinical trials.

Joining us on Smart Talk to discuss the TrialMatch program and the impact of Alzheimer’s disease is Dr. Keith Fargo. Also on the program is Clay Jacobs, the Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Pennsylvania Chapter.

Also, a Fulbright Scholarship is hard to get.

With an acceptance rate of around 20 percent, a Fulbright student scholarship attracts the best and brightest applicants from colleges and universities around the country.

A local university student was recently awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study history at the University of Kent, Canterbury, United Kingdom. This is the only award granted there for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Larry Herrold, of Sunbury, is a senior history and religious studies major at Susquehanna University. Herrold joins Smart Talk to discuss his major and the unique direction planned for his studies.

Raising minimum salaries for PA teachers and property taxes explained

The minimum yearly salary for public school teachers in Pennsylvania hasn’t increased since 1988, when it was set at $18,500.

In his 2019 budget proposal, Gov. Tom Wolf proposed raising the minimum salary for teachers to $45,000 annually. If approved, it would increase the salaries of about 3,000 teachers working in 180 school districts. The average teacher in Pennsylvania is paid $67,000 a year.

The Wolf Administration estimates the higher minimum would cost about $14 million to bring the salaries of those making less than $45,000 up to that level. There have been suggestions that that estimate is low. Other objections have centered on the impact higher salaries would have on rural school districts who generally have less money and whether there would be a ripple effect of increasing all teacher salaries.

Appearing on Monday’s Smart Talk to discuss increasing the minimum salary for teachers is Chris Lilienthal PSEA Assistant Director of Communications, Pennsylvania State Education Association. Also with us is Hannah Barrick, Director of Advocacy, Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials.
Also, it seems fitting that the quote ‘In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,’ is attributed to Benjamin Franklin, a famous Pennsylvanian. It would seem more appropriate if the quote specified property taxes, because these taxes seem to get the most attention.’s The Listening Post takes on a reader’s question, “what keeps these taxes in force.”

PA Post reporter Ed Mahon joins Smart Talk to discuss why school property taxes are so hard to kill.

What are Pennsylvanians thinking about the issues?

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What to look for on Smart Talk Monday, April 1, 2019:

The latest Franklin and Marshall College statewide poll was released late last week and it shows Pennsylvanians support legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes and favor raising Pennsylvania’s minimum wage. Half like what Gov. Tom Wolf is doing in office and a third believe President Trump deserves re-election.

The issue that matters most to Pennsylvanians right now? Taxes by a small percentage over education although voters say increasing state funding for public education should be a priority in answer to another question.

So what does it all mean? What opinions have changed or shown the greatest shift in recent years?

On Monday’s Smart Talk, we’re joined by Dr. G. Terry Madonna, Professor of Public Affairs and Director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs, political analyst and pollster at Franklin & Marshall College to break it all down.

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Dr. G. Terry Madonna, Professor of Public Affairs and Director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs, political analyst and pollster with Smart Talk host Scott LaMar.