In Conversation There's a lot going on in Louisville, and WFPL's In Conversation with Rick Howlett gives people a platform to talk — both to each other, and with the larger community — about the biggest issues facing our city, state and region. Live at 11 a.m. every Friday on 89.3 WFPL. Miss the show? Listen here as a weekly podcast.
In Conversation

In Conversation

From 89.3 WFPL News Louisville

There's a lot going on in Louisville, and WFPL's In Conversation with Rick Howlett gives people a platform to talk — both to each other, and with the larger community — about the biggest issues facing our city, state and region. Live at 11 a.m. every Friday on 89.3 WFPL. Miss the show? Listen here as a weekly podcast.

Most Recent Episodes

Appalachia As A Bellwether For The Country

The challenges that the Appalachian region faces aren't just Appalachian problems; they're American problems. Those problems include addiction, poor health outcomes and the need for communities to make a transition from fossil fuel extraction, and they will largely determine whether we, as a nation, can meet challenges of inequality, climate change and economic recovery. Far from being a backwater, Appalachia is a bellwether for the country. This week is the debut of Louisville Public Media's very first book, "Appalachian Fall," written by Jeff Young, Managing Editor of the Ohio Valley ReSource collaboration, and the rest of that reporting team. The book is a collection of the reporting this team has done on the future of Appalachia — from the Blackjewel coal miners blocking the train tracks in Harlan County to people on the front lines of the opioid crisis and others fighting for a just economic transition for coal country. Kirkus Reviews says the book is: "Blunt, essential reading on today's Appalachia that is less elegiac and more forward-thinking than most." This week we talk to Jeff Young, and reporters Brittany Patterson, who covers energy and environment, and Sydney Boles, who covers economic transition in Appalachia. Donate to support this and future episodes of In Conversation.

What's Next for Downtown Louisville?

If you've ever looked at historical photos of downtown Louisville, you might have been struck by how busy and bustling it looked. Loads of people were out and about going to work, wearing fancy outfits to the theater, and shopping at department stores. But mid-century "urban renewal" efforts changed downtown, putting parking lots and high rises where multi-use buildings and pedestrian-friendly sidewalks used to be. Since then, efforts to revitalize downtown have come and gone (remember the Galleria?), but in the last few years, our city center seemed to gain some momentum. The Yum Center brought people downtown for games and concerts, Whiskey Row reopened with restaurants and shops, and some distilleries opened their doors to teach tourists where the good stuff comes from. Enter 2020. The coronavirus pandemic shuttered downtown, closing courts and government offices, and sending workers from their high rise cubicles to their dining room tables. Then protests drew opportunistic vandals who broke storefront windows. Buildings are still boarded up. Bars are closed by order of the governor, and restaurants are still operating at limited capacity in the interest of public health. What does this all mean for the urban center of Louisville? Will the downtown those workers and sports fans and diners and tourists eventually (hopefully?) go back to look anything like the one they left behind? This Friday on "In Conversation," we're talking about the challenges this year has brought to downtown Louisville, and what the future might hold.

Fancy Farm Without Politicians?

The Fancy Farm Picnic is known through the state as the place where political candidates come to stump, kiss babies and encourage the eating of pounds of meat. But with the COVID-19 pandemic, and numbers in the state spiking uncomfortably high, politicians won't speak at the picnic this year. How are politicians campaigning differently this summer? And what will Fancy Farm be like without the rhetoric and heckling? This week, we talk about the history and legacy of the Fancy Farm picnic, and how it went from a simple fundraiser for St. Jerome Catholic Church to an important milestone on the Kentucky campaign trail. Our guests are: Cynthia Elder, author, "Fancy Farm Living is the Life for Me," editor, "The Catholic Settlement: A History of St. Jerome Catholic Church 1836-2011" Andy Hayden, Fancy Farm picnic organizer Al Cross, veteran Kentucky political journalist We also have updates on the LMPD's response to Louisville protests, and coronavirus testing availability in Kentucky, from KYCIR's Jake Ryan, and WFPL's Ryan Van Velzer.

School Reopening Plans In Kentucky

Getting children and teens ready to go back to school takes on a different meaning this year, as COVID-19 infection rates are spiking around the country and here in Kentucky and Indiana. On this week's "In Conversation," we explore the decisions educators, administrators and parents have to make to keep students and teachers safe. We also talk about how parents are weighing the pros and cons of sending their children back to school versus delaying their return. WFPL's Education Reporter Jess Clark joins us with the latest school reopening news, and Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Marty Pollio talk about JCPS's plan. Kerri Massey also join us — she's a veteran teacher, currently at Smyrna Elementary and has three school aged children herself. And Angie McDonald, a school nurse advisor with the Kentucky Department of Education talks about health and safety protocols in school settings.

Confederate Statues And Other Monuments In Public Spaces

Demonstrators across the country who have been demanding an end to racial injustice and excessive police violence have also been calling for the removal of Confederate monuments and other public displays that for many evoke slavery, white supremacy and oppression. Some protesters have taken matters into their own hands, tearing down statues themselves. This week on In Conversation, we jump into the debate over controversial monuments and public art, and we want you to join the discussion. Our guests include: Writer Conner Towne O'Neill, whose forthcoming book Down Along With That Devil's Bones explores the continuing battle over monuments dedicated to notorious Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. Dr. Anne Bailey, history professor at State University of New York at Binghamton and director of the Harriett Tubman Center for the Study of Freedom and Equality. Braylyn Resko Stewart, Louisville-based artist who co-created a large mural featuring Breonna Taylor and others who died at the hands of police. WFPL Arts Reporter Stephanie Wolf. Listen to In Conversation live on 89.3 WFPL, Fridays mornings at 11.

The Rise Of Substance Use During COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic seems to be changing our relationship with drinking and drugs. Liquor sales are booming. Drinking socially wasn't an option for a while, so people who never drank alone found themselves mixing up cocktails for one. And why wait for happy hour when most hours of the day are the same? Meanwhile, folks with serious substance use problems saw their weekly meetings move to Zoom. Opioid-related drug overdoses nearly doubled in Kentucky. Substance use issues are on the rise, and they require different solutions as shutdowns and social distancing affect the ability to get needed help. Join us on "In Conversation" this Friday as we talk to experts about the impact of the coronavirus on how we use alcohol and other substances. We'll talk about people with long time addictions, those dealing with COVID-19 prohibitions in the beginning of their recovery, and how to keep a handle on your own drinking when the cocktail hour seems to have no beginning or end. We'll find out how professionals and advocates are finding news ways to offer support, and hear from members of the community about how they are handling alcohol and drug use while isolated, and dealing with the stress of a growing pandemic.

Looking Ahead To Kentucky's General Election

The stage is set for the November General Election in Kentucky. The state's primary was delayed until June 23 because of the coronavirus, and it took a week for all the votes to be tabulated because most of them were absentee mail-in ballots. In Kentucky's closely watched Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, retired Marine pilot Amy McGrath held off a late charge by state Rep. Charles Booker to win the nomination. She'll try to unseat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell this fall. This week on In Conversation, we'll analyze Kentucky's primary election results and look ahead to the November General Election with Capitol Reporter Ryland Barton. Plus, Education Reporter Jess Clark joins us to talk about Kentucky's plan to reopen public schools following the coronavirus shutdown. We also replay our conversation with former Camden, New Jersey Mayor Dana Redd and Rutgers University professor and Camden resident Nyema Watson. The city overhauled its police department during Redd's administration.

Summer Vacations And Pride Month During A Pandemic

Many states that have reopened their economies from coronavirus shutdowns are seeing a dramatic surge in COVID-19 infections. Some have reinstated certain restrictions, and Texas has paused its reopening plan. Gov. Andy Beshear and state health officials say Kentucky remains in a plateau, but the commonwealth continues to record scores of new coronavirus cases daily, with many recent ones tied to out-of-state travel. Health officials say numerous people have returned to Kentucky with COVID-19 after traveling to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Starting Monday, bars across Kentucky can reopen under certain conditions, people can congregate in groups of up to 50, and other activities will be permitted. The state has also released its plan for the reopening of schools this fall, and Churchill Downs says the Kentucky Derby will be held — with spectators — on September 5. Today on In Conversation, we talk about the coronavirus pandemic in Kentucky and how a surge in cases would affect the state's reopening plan. Two guests join us for this segment: Mike Berry, Secretary of Kentucky Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet, and Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, Vice Chair off the Infectious Disease Society of America's Global Health Committee. Plus, this is Pride Month, but amid the coronavirus pandemic and the racial justice demonstrations around the world, the celebration is different this year. We talk about it with Allen Hatchell, outgoing president of Kentuckiana Pride, and DJ Victoria Syimone Taylor. Donate to support this and future seasons of In Conversation.

The Pandemic And Kentucky's Primary Election

Kentucky's primary election is Tuesday, June 23rd, and the coronavirus pandemic is changing the way most Kentuckians cast their ballots. The primary was postponed from May to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and for the first time, Kentuckians are being allowed to vote by mail, or vote in person early without providing an excuse. Most Kentucky counties will have only one voting location, but a federal lawsuit has been filed seeking to add balloting sites in the state's most populous counties. This week on In Conversation, we'll talk about the upcoming election and the balloting process with Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams. Kentucky Public Radio Capitol Reporter Ryland Barton will be here to preview the primary races. Plus, we'll have the latest on the demonstrations for racial justice that are entering their fourth week in many cities. Friday is Juneteenth, and we'll hear some citizens' thoughts on the day commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S.

Police Reform

Camden, New Jersey was once considered one of the most violent cities in the country. Now, it's a case study in police reform. The city completely dissolved its police department in 2012 and put together an entirely new one, focused on community engagement. Crime in Camden dropped by almost half. As pressure grows in Louisville to make sweeping changes to LMPD, we want to know what drastic police reform actually looks like. So this week, we're talking to some of the change makers in Camden: Mayor Dana Redd, who was mayor during the police reform and is widely credited with its implementation and success. And Dr. Nyeema Watson, a lifelong Camden resident who's the associate chancellor for civic engagement at Rutgers University. Later in the show, we'll check in with Congressman John Yarmuth, co-sponsor of the Justice in Policing Act of 2020. He'll explain some of the changes called for in the bill, which has won support from civil rights groups. We'll kick things off with an update on local protests and calls for police reform, with WFPL's Amina Elahi and Ryan Van Velzer.

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