Smart Talk WITF's Daily Public Affairs program
Smart Talk

Smart Talk

From WITF

WITF's Daily Public Affairs programMore from Smart Talk »

Most Recent Episodes

Smart Talk 10/06/2017: Shopping for Healthcare / Harrisburg Book Festival / Antique Auto Show

The number of employers pushing high-deductible healthcare plans has nearly doubled since 2012, from 13% to 25%. Lawmakers are looking to cut those deductible costs by offering individual health savings accounts hoping consumers would be encouraged to shop around for the best value. This hasn't been the result, according to Amy Wolaver, an economist at Bucknell's Institute for Public Policy. "Very few people try, and of those who do try, they have difficulty in finding information." Wolaver told Brett Sholtis of WITF's Transforming Health desk. She found that lower-income and minority families are the least likely to compare pricing of health services. On the Friday edition of Smart Talk, we'll speak with Sholtis about the difficulty consumers have in comparatively shopping for healthcare. Also, the Harrisburg Book Festival begins this Thursday and runs through Sunday. Located at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore and Café in downtown Harrisburg, the event will include poetry readings, children's book presentations and readings from regional and national and international authors as well as a keynote address from 2016 National Book Award Winner, Dr. Ibram Kendi, author of Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. Smart Talk will discuss the importance of cultivating a literary identity in Central Pennsylvania and some of the events at the book festival with Alex Brubaker, director of the festival and Catherine Lawrence, co-owner of the Midtown Scholar. Later, the Antique Automobile Club of America's 2017 Eastern Division National Fall Meet runs through Saturday outside of the Giant Center in Hershey. Every car conceivable will be there - from the Model T's of the 1910s to the Porsches of the '80s and everything in between. Steve Moskowitz, executive director of the Antique Automobile Club of America, will join Smart Talk to discuss America's love for cars - an affair that has been ongoing for more than a century.

Smart Talk 10/06/2017: Shopping for Healthcare / Harrisburg Book Festival / Antique Auto Show

Smart Talk 10/05/2017: John Tierney on Nuclear Proliferation / Brett Jenks on Addressing C...

As societies mature, its participants will look back with regret at behaviors once regarded as routine. Brett Jenks looks at these attitude shifts and wonders about the motivations and consequences for such changes in society and how they may apply to the approach to contemporary issues, such as climate change. Jenks is the CEO of Rare, "a global leader in using behavior change to achieve long-lasting conservation results" and recipient of Dickinson College's 2017 Sam Rose '58 and Julie Walters Prize at Dickinson College for Global Environmental Activism. He will lead a discussion entitled "Why the Biggest Barrier to Solving Our Climate Crisis May Be in Our Heads" next Tuesday at Dickinson's Anita Tuvin Schlechter Auditorium. Jenks appears on Thursday's Smart Talk to discuss seismic shifts in human behavior and how our behavior effects climate change. Also, Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) works to create a safer, healthier world for future generations. The non-profit organization focuses on preventing nuclear war and eliminating nuclear energy, reversing the effects of climate change and protecting the environment from toxic pollution. Next week, the Harrisburg-Hershey Chapter of PSR will sponsor a discussion with former Massachusetts Congressman John Tierney. A former member of the House Intelligence Committee, Tierney currently serves as the Executive Director of the Council for a Livable World where he uses his experience to fight the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Tierney will address the escalating threat of nuclear war and the treat nuclear armament poses to national security at the West Shore Country Club in Harrisburg next Wednesday; the event will benefit the Harrisburg Peace Garden. Smart Talk will speak with Tierney about the current state of nuclear proliferation and the future for national security as well as Dr. Robert Little, a Harrisburg physician and president of the Harrisburg-Hershey Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Smart Talk 10/05/2017: John Tierney on Nuclear Proliferation / Brett Jenks on Addressing C...

Smart Talk 10/04/2017: PA manufacturing in spotlight/Recovery successes

We are in the midst of Pennsylvania Manufacturing Week. Gov. Tom Wolf said, "Pennsylvania Manufacturing Week and Manufacturing Day, (Friday, October 6) are part of a movement to build positive perceptions about manufacturing, draw attention to the amazing career opportunities available, and highlight the industry's important contributions to our economy." The manufacturing industry could use a boost. Over the past 30 years, much of the news about manufacturing focused on job losses and manufacturers shutting down due to overseas competition or technology. However, manufacturing is still a significant part of Pennsylvania's economy. According to the state, it has an $84 billion economic impact, almost 19,000 employers and offers an average wage of $59,000 a year. Sheri Collins, Pennsylvania's Deputy Secretary of the Office of Technology and Innovation with the Department of Community and Economic Development appears on Wednesday's Smart Talk to discuss manufacturing. Also, America is dealing with an opioid crisis that started with many people using painkillers that often led to heroin. Of course, opioids is just one of many substances that have led to dependence - alcohol, methamphetamines, and cocaine all come to mind. At the same time, there are tens of thousands of people who have worked hard to recover from substance use. And in Pennsylvania that usually means they went through a county program. We talk recovery on Wednesday's program with Kristin Varner, Director of Training and Advocacy for The RASE Project as well as a Certified Recovery Specialist and Mike Krafick, Certified Recovery Specialist (CRS), and Supervisor with Armstrong Indiana and Clarion Drug and Alcohol Commission.

Smart Talk 10/04/2017: PA manufacturing in spotlight/Recovery successes

Smart Talk 10/03/2017: PA's Youth Services Problem / Veterans Sharing Stories

Pennsylvania's child welfare system is broken and is putting children's lives in danger. That's according to state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale in his year-long State-of-the-Child report that identified caseworker staffing at county Children and Youth services departments as the root of the problem. The report says counties don't have enough qualified professionals, inadequate training, staggering caseloads and inappropriately low pay that all contribute to uncontrollable turnover. For example, York County had a 90% turnover rate in caseworkers over a two-year period. New laws took effect in 2015 as a result of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse case that expanded the definition of child abuse and increased the number of those required to report abuse. Consequently, the number of child abuse reports that counties had to investigate exploded. DePasquale pointed out that 46 children died last year as the result of abuse or neglect while 79 others were close to death. All while the state spent $1.8 billion to protect the state's children. On Tuesday's Smart Talk, we'll discuss the findings of the report and a few of the recommendations to improve the situation with Auditor General DePasquale. Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's epic documentary The Vietnam War resulted in many across the nation discussing aspects of the conflict that may have been difficult to talk about. With that in mind, the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle is hosting a discussion with veteransTuesday night entitled "Recovering Sacred Ground for All Generations." The program will provide an opportunity for the audience to share and reflect on their own experience and help facilitate continued dialogue concering the impact of war on their lives.

Smart Talk 10/03/2017: PA's Youth Services Problem / Veterans Sharing Stories

Smart Talk 10/02/2017: Las Vegas shooting/Single-Payer Healthcare

At least 50 people were killed and 200 injured in the nation's worst mass shooting Sunday night in Las Vegas. On Monday's Smart Talk, we'll get an on-the-ground report from LasVegas journalist Dana Gentry. The Senate's third attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, failed last week before the vote made it to the floor. It was the third attempt since the inauguration of Donald Trump, who campaigned with the promise to overturn the ACA, saying on many occasions the plan " . . . is unaffordable and it's a disaster." Earlier in September, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders proposed a "Medicare-for-all" bill that, according to Sanders' own website, would " . . . create a federally administered single-payer health care program." The plan would cover all aspects of healthcare; preventative and emergency care, primary, specialized, vision, dental, mental - everything for everyone. People could choose any doctor and prescriptions would be covered. Supporters of universal single-payer healthcare are thrilled that the bill brings the topic to the national narrative, though it has little chance of passing the Republican-controlled congress. Critics contend that further government involvement in the healthcare process would only take choices away from consumers and cost would skyrocket. On the Monday edition of Smart Talk, we will spend the hour discussing the merits and drawbacks of a single-payer healthcare system. Pennsylvania State Representative Pamela DeLissio (D - 194th) will discuss her proposal - the Pennsylvania Health Care Plan - a single payer plan administered by the state. We'll also speak with Dr. William Davidson, a cardiologist who has served Central Pennsylvania for 30 years and is a member of Physicians for a National Health Program, an organization of doctors advocating for a universal single-payer system. We'll also speak with critics of the single-payer concept; Vince Phillips is a retired lobbyist who advocated for the Pennsylvania Association of Health Underwriters and Eric Beittel, a financial planner and the former President of the Board of the Central Pennsylvania Association of Health Underwriters. We'll also hear from Elizabeth Stelle, the Director of Policy Analysis for the Commonwealth Foundation.

Smart Talk 10/02/2017: Las Vegas shooting/Single-Payer Healthcare

Smart Talk 09/29/2017: Protecting against hackers/Nazi Titanic author

Author Salman Rushdie captures the chasm of culture between Eastern and Western societies intertwined with a touch of mysticism and historical fiction. His 1981 novel Midnight's Children earned him a Booker Award; in 1983 he was inducted to the Royal Society of Literature. 1988's Satanic Verses earned him an order of execution from Iran's Ayatollah Khomeni for percieved blasphamy against the Q'uran. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2007. Smart Talk talks with Rushdie about his latest novel, The Golden House, which illustrates the lives of an eccentric family against the backdrop of political turmoil eerily similar to very real events in Washington. Rushide will be signing copies at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg Friday evening at 8:15. Also, while most high schoolers are content to work at a mall or in fast food, Bob Buhrig took a job his senior year that had him driving hearses and comforting grieving families at Myers Funeral Home in Mechanicsburg. Bob found something he was passionate about, describing his mission "to provide thoughtful service and compassionate care." Buhrig bought the business from the Myers in 2011 and has served as the owner/operator and funeral director at the Myers-Buhrig Funeral Home since. Buhrig, along with George Foley, a funeral service consultant with Matthews International, also speaks candidly to groups about death and making arrangements for our passing. They often take a jocular approach in an effort to get people to open up about their fears, concerns and questions about happens after. Bob Buhrig and George Foley will join Smart Talk to discuss life after life and answer your questions about death and dying and salve your curiosity about the funeral industry. Later, Dauphin County saw 85 opioid-related deaths in 2016, county commissioners are responding by filing a suit against the manufacturers and marketers of the addictive prescription pharmaceuticals. The county claims the companies understated the addictive nature of these drugs while overplaying their benefits. Dauphin County Commissioner Jeff Haste will join Smart Talk to discuss the impact these prescription opioids have had in the communities in and around Harrisburg and what role the commissioners feel the pharmaceutical companies played in exacerbating the crisis.

Smart Talk 09/29/2017: Protecting against hackers/Nazi Titanic author

Smart Talk 09/28/2017: Protecting against hackers/Nazi Titanic author

Senate Republicans are scrapping a vote on the proposed Graham-Cassidy bill. This was the third attempt to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The bill's authors - Senators Lindsey Graham, (R-S.C.), Bill Cassidy, (R-La.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), and Ron Johnson, (R-Wis.) - explained the failure as resulting in "circumstances under our control and not under our control, the process and timing of this vote did not line up this time" and assured their constituents, "we will push on." Republicans criticized Obamacare from its inception saying Americans shouldn't be required to have or purchase health insurance, that it cost too much, did little to control healthcare costs while premiums increased and choices of insurance were limited. At the same time, millions of uninsured Americans — many with pre-existing conditions — now have health insurance and billions of dollars from the federal government have helped states expand Medicaid for those who couldn't afford insurance. On Thursday's Smart Talk, we discuss the future of health insurance with Pennsylvania's Acting Secretary of Human Services Teresa Miller. Secretary Miller testifed this week against the Graham-Cassidy bill. Also, Bill James is considered the godfather of baseball sabermetrics - a method of using empirical data to gauge a baseball player's productivity. James used those analytic skills in a different arena when he investigated the crimes of a hundred-year-old serial killer, who terrorized small towns throughout the country. The investigation uncovered dozens of murders that were thought to be unconnected and sometimes led to the conviction, execution and even lynching of innocent people falsely accused. With his daughter, Rachel McCarthy James, Bill James compiled his findings and even name the man they think committed the murders in The Man from the Train: The Solving of a Century-Old Serial Killer Mystery. Smart Talk speaks with the father/daughter team about the book Thursday.

Smart Talk 09/28/2017: Protecting against hackers/Nazi Titanic author

Smart Talk 09/27/2017: Protecting against hackers/Nazi Titanic author

There are three major credit reporting companies in the U.S. The three companies possess an enormous amount of personal information about you. Make a major purchase, like a house, and your credit report will be consulted. So when the data of one of those three — Equifax — was breached earlier this month, it had potential to be disastrous for millions of people. In fact, personal information such as social security numbers and birthdates of up to 143 million people was exposed. The attackers could use that information in many ways that could ruin your credit and finances for years to come. So how does one protect themselves from hackers? On Wednesday's Smart Talk, we joined by Andrew Hacker (yes, that's his name) who is the Cyber Security Expert in Residence at Harrisburg University of Science and Technology to answer that question. Also, in 1927, the Germans set to sea the Cap Arcona, a luxury liner to rival the Titanic. Once Hitler came to power, the ship was actually used as a stand-in for the Titanic in a feature film full of Nazi propaganda. During World War II, the Cap Arcona served as a transport, a troop barracks and a floating concentration camp for Jews imprisoned by the Nazis. The demise of the ship is even more tragic and little known. Author and historian Robert P. Watson tells the tale of the doomed Cap Arcona in his new book, The Nazi Titanic. Watson joins us on Smart Talk to tell the story of the doomed cruise ship. Robert P. Watson is the featured speaker at Chizuk Emuna Congregation in Harrisburg October 8th at 4 p.m

Smart Talk 09/27/2017: Protecting against hackers/Nazi Titanic author

Smart Talk 09/26/2017: Stopping child sex abuse by other children

Often under-reported, 30-50% of child sexual abuse incidents are perpetrated by other youths. These offenders are usually the victims of abuse themselves. Institutions are grappling with how to predict, prevent and prosecute such cases. Reporting procedures can be murky in some jurisdictions and some schools and youth organizations are unsure of their own liability in these matters. Samaritan Safe Church bills itself as ". . . a sanctuary, where one finds protection, support, guidance . . . " that operates to "establish a national network of leaders and organizations working to end child sexual abuse." Samaritan Safe Church recently partnered with Center for Children's Justice and the law firm of Gibbel Kraybill and Hess to develop a program addressing child sex abuse and human sex trafficking. The collaborative will also address the issue of child-on-child sexual abuse. On October 5th, the collaborative will sponsor an event addressing child-on-child abuse. Attendees will learn how to spot the signs of abuse, identify risks within institutions such as schools, churches and teams and how to navigate the law as it relates to child sexual abuse. On Tuesday's Smart Talk, we will speak with Linda Crockett, Director of Safe Church/ Safe Places at Samaritan Counseling Center about children and teens with sexual behavior issues and the resources to assist caregivers to identify risky behavior. We'll also be joined by Cathy Palm, Director of the Center for Children's Justice who will parse out the legal complexities associated with reporting sexual abuse and Ann Martin, an attorney with Gibbel, Kraybill and Hess who specializes in Title IX issues as they relate to sexual abuse in school settings.

Smart Talk 09/26/2017: Stopping child sex abuse by other children

Smart Talk 09/24/2017: Illegal Guns / Surviving Hurricanes in Puerto Rico

Americans are divided on how to deal with gun violence. Some blame the firearm industry and lax gun laws for flooding the market with high-powered, high-capacity weapons. Others contend people are the problem and that guns are tools of preservation protected by the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution and that it is alternately the fault of popular culture or personal responsibility that creates violent criminals. The issue becomes further clouded when guns illegally change hands and end up in possession of people who are not allowed by law to have firearms or they drop off the radar and go into circulation as unregistered guns. Ed Mahon is an investigative reporter with the York Daily Record. This week the YDR is publishing a three-part series on the impact illegal guns are having in York County. Mahon appears on Monday's Smart Talk to describe his findings and the YDR's analysis of illegal guns in the county. Also, the people of Puerto Rico are still reeling after Hurricane Maria knocked out all of the power on the island last week. Maria came on the heels of Hurricane Irma. Some Puerto Ricans living on the mainland of the U.S. still haven't heard from family members. On Monday's program, we'll hear from Hector Valdez, a producer at Spanish-language radio station WLCH in Lancaster about his family in Puerto Rico and efforts being made to get aid to those impacted by the storm.

Smart Talk 09/24/2017: Illegal Guns / Surviving Hurricanes in Puerto Rico

Back To Top