Podcast: Florida Matters Archives

The Business of College Football
College football in Florida is more than a Saturday afternoon pastime for players, coaches and fans. It’s also big business, generating millions of dollars in revenues for universities. The start of play this year, though, has included questions...
The Way Forward for Florida’s Economy
Economists disagree about how to deal with a recession. Some say direct government spending is best while others argue cutting back on government spending and putting money in people’s pockets works better. We’ll talk about these arguments and weigh...
Hazing
Hazing on college campuses has been put in the spotlight after a suspected hazing at an off-campus event for the Omega Psi Phi fraternity at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Though details about what happened are still mostly unknown as the...
The Pier’s Future
The St. Petersburg City Council has voted to tear down the city’s inverted pyramid pier, opting for a new structure and a shorter approach. Some say it would mean the loss of a building that is identified with the city. We’ll hear why some city...
Voters’ Voices
There’s a new poll out almost every day now that the primary election is upon us, and the leader seems to change with every survey. In cooperation with Bay News 9 and the St. Petersburg Times, we’ll be following a group of voters through the...
Primary Election: The Final Push
Several high-profile statewide primary races are neck-and-neck right now, and the candidates have gotten very heated in their rhetoric and their advertising. Would-be nominees have one last week to make their case and position themselves with their...
Primary Election Preview: Senate and Gubernatorial Races
Voters decide Aug. 24 which Republican will face Alex Sink and Buddy Chiles in the governor’s race and which Democrat faces Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio for a U.S. Senate seat. With two weeks to go, these primary races are getting heated, and there...
2010 Legislature: Red-Light Cameras, Texting Ban
State lawmakers are considering two bills this session they hope will make Florida’s roads safer. One would ban texting behind the wheel, making it a secondary offense (which means you have to be pulled over for something else first). We’ll look at...
Primary Election Preview: Attorney General’s Race Part 2
Our coverage of the race for state attorney general continues with the Republican primary election. Three Republicans hope to succeed Attorney General Bill McCollum and continue much of his work in the office. Meet the field -- two Crist...
Primary Election Preview: Attorney General’s Race
The Democratic primary for Florida attorney general has two veteran state lawmakers pitted against one another in a race that has been somewhat overshadowed by contentious contests for governor and U.S. Senate. In the first of our two-part series on...
Oil Spill Claims
Oil giant BP has promised to pay for the damage caused by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. For many fishermen and beachside hotels and restaurants, the company’s money may be all that keeps them from losing their businesses. And now, some local...
Tampa Police Shooting: A Community Conversation
It’s been a little more than a week since the memorial service for Tampa Police Officers David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab, and while life is starting to return to normal, there is still a feeling of rawness throughout the community. The officers’...
The Oil Spill's Psychology
Social scientists will tell you that every disaster -- natural or man-made -- takes a mental toll on those living through it. More than two months into the Gulf oil spill, we look at the psychological impact of this catastrophe, including how it’s...
The Economic Impacts of the Oil Spill
Pools of oil are washing ashore along Florida’s coast, coating the sand with tar balls and sludge. And though it’s only panhandle beaches that have oil on them so far, hoteliers and tourism officials in the Bay area say visitors think all the state’...
Panhandling and Roadside Commerce
If you’re asking for donations for charity, selling a Sunday newspaper or just looking for a few bucks for yourself, you can’t do it anymore along the major roads in St. Petersburg. The city has enacted a ban on all kinds of transactions along busy...
Drug Court:Treatment, Not Jail
People arrested for drug crimes often face jail time and perhaps court-ordered rehabilitation or treatment. In drug court, that’s flipped around: outpatient or residential treatment, regular check-ins with a judge, and jail time as a last resort....
What the Oil Spill Means for Florida
Oil has been pouring into the Gulf of Mexico since an oil rig exploded last month. The rig was leased by BP, which has been trying to cap the well and stem the flow of petroleum. Meanwhile, Gulf Coast communities are watching and waiting to see what...
The Shifting Politics of Oil
Is it a waffle or a flip-flop or just a revised opinion based on new evidence? The ongoing oil spill in the Gulf has some elected leaders and political candidates scrambling to point out their opposition to offshore drilling -- even if they once...
Drilling After the Oil Spill
Florida lawmakers have commissioned reports and held hearings as they explore opening state-controlled waters for oil and gas exploration. The question of offshore drilling has been floating around Tallahassee for years, and it looked like the...
Florida Legislature: Mid-Session Update
The big stories in this year’s annual session of the Florida Legislature have not turned out to be the ones most observers expected. Lawmakers have passed major education changes and signed a gaming deal with the Seminole Tribe. But the biggest job...
Review of the Legislative Session
Observers of Florida politics say the legislative session that ended last Friday was especially rough-and-tumble. Rampant partisanship and power plays -- along with a state republican party at war with the Governor -- all affected the legislation...
Hurricane Season 2010
As June 1 approaches each year, emergency managers remind us to think about our hurricane evacuation plan and put together our supplies kit. Just a few years ago, in the wake of two very active seasons, it wasn’t too hard to get people motivated to...
U.S. Senate Race & the Politics of Independence
Will Gov. Charlie Crist avoid the Republican primary in the U.S. Senate race by running as a candidate with no party affiliation? By the end of the week, we’ll know Crist’s plans. What he’s been thinking -- and its ramifications -- have been the...
Florida Legislature: 2010 Session Preview
According to some estimates, state lawmakers have to find $2.6 billion more for next year’s state budget. Either that, or cut that much in government spending. That means negotiating a state budget will again be front and center for the yearly...
Expanding Offshore Drilling
Last week, President Obama announced plans to expand offshore drilling in the United States, allowing new exploration in federal waters as close as 125 miles from Florida’s Gulf coast. The move comes on the heels of efforts in Florida last fall to...
Overhauling Teacher Tenure and Pay
The talk of the first half of this year’s legislative session has been education, and especially a proposal that eliminates teacher tenure and ties teachers’ pay raises to student performance. Introduced by a north Florida Senator and supported by...
Best of Florida Matters, Part 2 - WUSF 89.7 Spring Membership Campaign
Listen back to a few of the engaging conversations we brought you recently on Florida Matters. A group of local Haitians shares their efforts to find family members after January’s devastating earthquake there, and they offer their thoughts on the...
Best of Florida Matters - WUSF 89.7 Spring Membership Campaign
We’re looking back at some of the stories and conversations you make possible every week on Florida Matters. We’ll examine the impact of watering to protect crops during the freeze earlier this year. Experts weigh the benefits and costs of opening...
Commuting and Traffic in the Tampa Bay Area
Sometimes driving in the Bay area can be a real pain. But are we really worse than Los Angeles, New York or even Atlanta? Forbes magazine says we are -- the magazine dubbed the Tampa Bay metro area as the worst for commuters in a recent issue. That...
Recession Saving and Investing
As our current recession has persisted -- and even deepened -- we’ve heard the stories of people cutting back to make ends meet. Sometimes that means changing investment strategies or even reducing contributions to retirement accounts because paying...
The Impact of Sept. 11
The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are imprinted on the nation’s collective psyche, influencing everything from the nation’s foreign policy and how we travel by air to where our military forces are deployed and how we train first responders....
St. Petersburg Mayor's Race
A couple of weeks ago, 10 St. Petersburg residents were vying to be the city’s next mayor. Now, that list has only two names on it. The winner will inherit a list of unresolved issues, like deciding the future of downtown -- including BayWalk and...
Technology and Open Government
Staffers at Florida’s utility regulator have been in trouble lately for giving their cell phones’ instant messaging codes to power company officials. Turns out, that could violate the state’s broad public records and open government laws if there is...
Swine Flu/Cuba Relations
This week, state health officials said 102 people have died from swine flu in Florida. Doctors say the virus usually causes only a mild illness, and those who have died had underlying medical conditions. Still, all the talk of a swine flu pandemic...
A New Lakeland Mayor
After 17 years with Buddy Fletcher at the helm, a new mayor will take over in Lakeland. Those who want the job include two long-time city officials and a young newcomer to city politics. The new leader will face a deep recession in Florida and the...
Facing the Mortgage Crisis
The number of foreclosures in Florida has quadrupled since 2006. In Bradenton and Sarasota alone, foreclosures rose 600 percent between 2006 and 2008. This week on Florida Matters, we’re examining the impact of foreclosure on our community. We’ll...
Testing and Education Quality
A national conference this week in Jacksonville focused on quality education. In Florida, that quality is often measured by the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, and teacher bonuses, school funding and more are tied to the results. A few...
TV: Facing the Mortgage Crisis - Radio: The Push for Drilling
The debate over allowing oil and natural gas drilling as close as a few miles from Florida’s Gulf coast has heated up in recent weeks and figures to be a key issue during the spring legislative session. On this week’s show, we’ll hear why...
The Push for Drilling - Part 2
Last week, we focused on oil and natural gas drilling off Florida’s Gulf Coast. We wrap up that conversation by looking in more detail at the potential for new jobs and royalty payments to the state if the moratorium on drilling in state waters is...
Listening to Our Past
Meet a man who joined the circus as a teen, another who was part of Tampa’s first day of integrated dining in the 1960s, and a woman whose family went to meetings and picnics in Ybor City supporting the Spanish Republic during that country’s civil...
Helping Homeless Veterans
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says as many as a third of the nation’s homeless people are veterans. The issue has gained such prominence recently that the VA secretary has pledged to end homelessness among veterans within five years -- and...
Training Better Teachers
Over the next seven years, Hillsborough County Schools will spend $202 million to make teachers better at their jobs. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has chipped in $100 million of that -- the largest of four teacher effectiveness grants. The...
2009 Year in Review
As the saying goes, “It’s the economy, stupid.” That was the big story of 2009, touching all of our lives and driving much of the national conversation. Fittingly, it’s also the story we start with as we look back at the last year in Florida with...
Listening to Our Past (Rebroadcast)
Meet a man who joined the circus as a teen, another who was part of Tampa’s first day of integrated dining in the 1960s, and a woman whose family went to meetings and picnics in Ybor City supporting the Spanish Republic during that country’s civil...
2009 Year in Review (Rebroadcast)
As the saying goes, “It’s the economy, stupid.” That was the big story of 2009, touching all of our lives and driving much of the national conversation. Fittingly, it’s also the story we start with as we look back at the last year in Florida with...
Florida's 2010 Political Landscape
It’s the first week of 2010 and Florida’s election season has already begun. The state’s Chief Financial Officer and Attorney General are battling for the governor’s job. And what once seemed an inevitable victory for Gov. Charlie Crist in the U.S....
Disaster in Haiti
Estimates put the number of dead in the tens of thousands as recovery continues from a devastating earthquake in Haiti. The quake is being felt well beyond Haiti’s borders, including in Florida, which is home to more than 200,000 Haitians. We’ll...
Balancing Water Uses
When the rare overnight freeze moves into the Bay area, farmers typically turn on the sprinklers and blanket their crops with an insulating layer of ice. In the short term, that doesn’t usually cause significant problems. But after 11 days of...
Reworking Class Size Limits
In 2002, Florida voters set specific limits on the number of students in the state’s classrooms. Since then, districts have been phasing in smaller classes, shrinking them by two students a year. And come August, all classrooms in the state must be...
Water Quality: EPA Takes Over
Last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agreed to set specific limits on phosphorus and nitrogen in Florida waters to settle an ongoing lawsuit. It’s the first time the EPA has stepped in and set water quality standards for a state. The...