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Robin Sussingham

Reporter/Host

Robin Sussingham is a reporter/producer and host at WUSF Public Broadcasting.  A native of Lakeland, she frequently reports on events and issues in Polk County.

She came to WUSF from public radio stations KUER and KCPW in Utah, has contributed stories to NPR and Marketplace, and has an extensive background in newspapers, magazines and online reporting. 

Robin majored in chemistry at Duke, and went to NYU for a Masters Degree in Science, Health, and Environmental Reporting. She's reported on everything from the Olympics to the oil spill, but will jump at a chance to talk about food or books.

Ways to Connect

Streamsong photo

In remote central Florida, land turned inside out by phosphate mining has been transformed yet again -- this time as an upscale golf resort that's getting a lot of attention in the golfing world. The thousands of acres of Mosaic land that makes up Streamsong may be depleted of phosphate -- but it's rich in something  invaluable in the golf business. Sand.

DEP

UPDATE: The URL for the Beach Access Map has been shortened to fdep.maps.arcgis.com.

Florida has 825 miles of sandy coastline, but it may not feel that way if you don't know where to find public access in between the privately-owned properties.

Bill DeYoung

Bruce Atkins was 32 years old, an experienced mariner, and an apprentice harbor pilot in Tampa Bay. It was his last training mission, and he was shadowing Captain John Lerro, as Lerro steered the 606 foot cargo ship Summit Venture through  the  twists and turns of the shipping channel in the shallow bay.

May 9th, 1980, was a rainy, misty morning -- but not unusual Florida weather. No one predicted the sudden, freak storm with gale force winds, that seemed to come out of nowhere.

"It became a blinding, driving, rain, wind," Atkins recalls.

Ron Garan

Retired Astronaut Ron Garan tells WUSF's Robin Sussingham in this interview, "we need to find the low-hanging fruit" of international cooperation. He is the author of the book The Orbital Perspective.

Robin Sussingham

The Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition is crossing the state to bring attention to Florida's wilderness and the need to connect it all. Expedition members Mallory Lykes Dimmitt, Joe Guthrie and Carlton Ward recently met up with several dozen friends and fellow environmentalists in their first "trail mixer" along the Withlacoochee River.

Josh Cheuse

Alan Cheuse has been reviewing books for NPR's All Things Considered since the 1980s. He's giving a talk this week at All Saints' Academy in Winter Haven, where he'll also be teaching student workshops.

He sat down with WUSF's Robin Sussingham to talk about his favorite books now, and what advice he'd give to book clubs.

The books he suggested:

"Honeydew" by Edith Pearlman

"Twelve Days" by Alex Berenson

"The Other Joseph" by Skip Horack

"The Architect's Apprentice" by Elif Shafak

Robin Sussingham / WUSF News

Tuesday marked the first day in Florida history that same sex couples were able to legally marry. To mark the occasion, Hillsborough County Clerk Pat Frank held a group wedding at a park across the street from the courthouse. Some of the couples had waited decades for this.

The church bells rang out near the Joe Chillura courthouse square. The sun was shining and at noon Pat Frank took the podium in front of 20 or 30 same sex couples - plus a throng of reporters and well-wishers.

Reececliff Family Diner in Lakeland has been turning out its award winning pies since the 1930s, and lots of families rely on them every year for their Thanksgiving dessert. The restaurant has been operating in the Dixieland neighborhood since 1934.

Robin Sussingham

Greenlight Pinellas is not the only mass transportation referendum coming up in the next election.  Polk County is also having its own vote on public transportation -- and it’s own raging debate. The so-called My Ride, My Roads plan will push the sales tax to 8 percent, raising money for road maintenance and greatly expanded bus service in Polk.

Robin Sussingham

A standing-room-only crowd of more than 700 people packed into a high school auditorium in Lakeland Thursday night. They came to see Florida heavyweights John Morgan and Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd square off over legalizing medical marijuana.

Florida Polytechnic University

Saturday, Aug. 16, marks the grand opening for Florida's 12th university. Florida Polytechnic University, in Polk County, will offer a tuition-free STEM education to its inaugural class of about 550 students, who start class on Aug. 25.  President Randy Avent  sat down with WUSF's Robin Sussingham to talk about his vision for the university.

FEMA

On Friday, Aug. 13, 2004, while many in the Tampa Bay area braced for what they thought may be a direct hit, the Category 4 Hurricane Charley took a right turn into Charlotte County and Punta Gorda. A decade later, we go back to just hours after that devastating blow, when it was a tense time in that small community of mostly senior citizens nestled between Sarasota and Ft. Myers. We also revisit the quaint DeSoto County town of Arcadia, where sustained winds of a hundred miles an hour ripped down walls and roofs from its historic main street.

Here's an impressive stat: six of the 10 most costly hurricanes in U.S. history hit Florida during 2004 and 2005. Insurance companies took a big hit financially  and, as you'd expect, our property insurance coverage got more expensive. But the state saw its last hurricane nine years ago. So why are we still paying such high rates?

Robin Sussingham

All over Florida, laws are changing to make it easier for suburban homeowners to do a little farming. It's becoming more and more common to have a neighbor who's growing his own organic vegetables, collecting eggs from his own chickens, or even raising bees for their honey.

We will take an in-depth look at the increasing popularity of backyard agriculture this week on Florida Matters on Tuesday, Oct. 14 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 19 at 7:30 a.m. on WUSF 89.7 FM.

Robin Sussingham / WUSF News

A comprehensive bill to protect and restore Florida's natural springs has been moving through the state senate with strong bipartisan support. Support for springs in the Florida House, however, is far less certain. Still, it's the biggest burst of momentum and  public attention concerning these natural wonders in recent memory.

IFAS

Giant lizards called Argentine black and white tegus are coming out of hibernation right now -- and they're in the Tampa Bay area. Wildlife officials say the invasive species eat everything -- including the eggs and hatchlings of native animals that conservationists are trying hard to protect.

Robin Sussingham

The United States Department of Agriculture recently announced it was putting $21 million toward saving the citrus industry. They're trying to rescue it from what's widely seen as its biggest threat ever -- a disease called citrus greening.

Today in Lakeland, the USDA official who's coordinating how that money will be spent, Dr. Mary Palm,  spoke to dozens of growers and others that work in citrus. But the growers  stressed that they can't wait for long term solutions, and said that the industry needs immediate help to survive.

The Lakelander

You often hear that print media is out -- or going digital.  So when an upmarket, city magazine  with big  production values suddenly appears in a mid-sized town like Lakeland, can it succeed? Publishers of the new magazine, The Lakelander, are banking on it.

Robin Sussingham

A piece of history from Bartow will be included in the new Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.

The museum recently acquired a foundation stone bearing the initials of builder L.B. Brown, a former slave who built scores of homes during Bartow's early years. Museum officials see Brown as an example of the often overlooked contributions to America's growth by pioneering African Americans.

Polk State College

Polk State College held a ribbon-cutting for its new Advanced Technology Center on Thursday at the Clear Springs development east of  Bartow. Built with a $12 million donation from Clear Springs developer Stan Phelps, the center will train industry workers in high skilled technology jobs. The campus was originally envisioned as a $30 million project, but state funding fell through. Polk State College president Eileen Holden spoke to WUSF's Robin Sussingham about the center's current capabilites and Polk State's hopes for future expansion.

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