Susan Giles Wantuck

Reporter/Host

Susan Giles Wantuck is our midday news host, and a producer and reporter for WUSF Public Media who focuses her storytelling on arts and culture. 

She also serves as a music host on Classical WSMR 89.1 and 103.9. 

She is a lifelong resident with family roots that stretch back in Florida before it garnered statehood.  Susan holds a B.S. in Mass Communication from USF. The Florida Associated Press Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists have honored her hosting and reporting work.

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There may be nothing new under the sun, but in the Sunshine State, the Feds say identity-theft tax fraud is an epidemic that's spreading to other states. 

And it's only going to get worse. 

It seems Florida inmates are sharing "how-tos" in prison.  

George Zimmerman's attorney is asking that the judge in the case be removed over a possible conflict of interest. Yahoo News reports:

Mark O'Mara, Zimmerman's attorney, requested that Seminole Circuit Judge Jessica Recksiedler be removed after she revealed that her husband works with Mark NeJame, a CNN legal analyst. Last week, after O'Mara agreed to take Zimmerman as a client, NeJame revealed that he had been approached by Zimmerman—the 28-year-old neighborhood watchman accused of second-degree murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin—about representing him.

 

Zimmerman was turned away by NeJame, but not before NeJame recommended other defense attorneys, including O'Mara.

Zimmerman stands accused of 2nd degree murder for killing teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford in late February.  It happened after neighborhood watch captain Zimmerman flouted the advice of a 911 operator and followed Martin and the two had some sort of confrontation.

NBC Sports put together its mascot power rankings recently.

And is it any wonder that the cool cat who rules the Trop came out on top? Yes, I am talking about DJ Kitty, mascot for the Tampa Bay Rays:

He started as a scoreboard gimmick during the 2010 ALCS, when someone found a cat, dressed him in a Rays hat and tiny jersey, and placed him behind a DJ turntable. In that sense, DJ Kitty is a cousin to the Angels’ Rally Monkey and the Cardinals’ Rally Squirrel … 

The Deej beat out a variety of other critters and vegetables to take top prize.

And the kitten has morphed from just a video-based real tune spinning cat to a costumed cat over the years.

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

Routine patrol early Sunday morning turned out to be anything but for Hillsborough Deputy Juan Lazu.

Around 1:00 a.m. he was hit nearly head-on by a driver in a Ford Excursion going the wrong way with his lights off on Bearss Avenue westbound near the Jimmy B. Keel Public Library. 

The impact sent the squad car spinning and Deputy Lazu was able to radio for help.  Other deputies pulled him from the squad car before it and the Ford exploded and burst into flames.  Deputy Lazu had minor injuries and is expected to recover fully and get back to work. 

Tonight, the Florida Highway Patrol announced that 24-year-old Michael Graziano died early this afternoon from injuries in an April 3rd wreck. 

The Graziano's family attorney, George Tragos,  spoke to the Tampa Bay Times.

"It's a devastating tragedy for a family that has already suffered more than their share of tragedy."

Graziano was the passenger in a speeding car whose driver tried to overtake a dump truck before dawn that day at Ulmerton and 66th Street in Pinellas County.  The Volvo rear ended the truck, leaving Graziano in critical condition.

The Graziano family are not strangers to tragedy or car accidents.  About 5 years ago, Michael's older brother John was the passenger in a speeding car driven by Hulk Hogan's son, Nick Bollea.  John Graziano suffered severe brain damage when Bollea's car struck a tree and his family has been caring for the Iraq war veteran ever since.

President Obama is making his case for the "Buffett Rule" in Florida today. 

He'll also beef up his campaign war chest with fundraisers at stops in Boca Raton and in Tampa on Friday. 

Courtesy Katie Ball

I know Honda owners who brag about getting more than 200,000 miles out of their cars. That is, if they change the all-important timing belt. 

But one Orlando woman has them beat.  By hundreds of thousands of miles. 

Rachel Vietch is going blind.  And at 93, she's ready to hang up her car keys for good.

The Twitterverse was really rocking with discussion of what's been happening in the U.S. Supreme Court today.  It was the final day of oral arguments over the centerpiece policy of the Obama Administration, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. 

A circus atmosphere pervades the space outside of the U.S. Supreme Court today, where justices started hearing a record six hours of testimony as they weigh in on The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the centerpiece of the Obama Administration. 

But what does this mean for Florida, which has lead the way in challenging the constitutionality of the law?

My grandma used to say, "up yonder" and "man alive."  She was from Gainesville, Georgia.  My family's roots on my dad's side are steeped in Florida.  My ancestors were here before Florida became a state. 
 
So you'd think I'd be a veritable cornucopia of Florida-based words. Well, not really.  I do know that my dad used the term, "mosquito hawk" for a dragonfly when he was a boy.  And that's the same word my friend's mom used for mosquito.  She grew up in Hillsborough County, as my father did.

But other than that, I can't really say what term my family used for a heavy rain, for instance.  Was it gullywasher?  I only wish I knew. 

Courtesy of Quantum Leap Farm

I've seen first hand the horse power of animal healing.  Years ago, I had to opportunity to volunteer at Quantum Leap Farm, in Odessa, Florida.  I only spent a couple of days working there, but even a few hours showed me that this was no fluke.

Volunteering there was a family affair that started with my sister, then me, and eventually my husband, Frank Wantuck.  He forged friendships with the people who worked there and those who were served there and of course, the animals, like Sonic the horse. 

Some time ago, I produced this Florida Story featuring Frank and the founder of Quantum Leap, Edie Dopking.  I knew it was a good one, because even while recording it, I was overwhelmed with the beauty and power of the story.

All of this came to mind when I heard Julie Rovner's feature on NPR about animal therapy.

You may have noticed gas prices going up...and up.  Some are predicting $5 dollars a gallon by summer, but The AAA Auto Club South doesn't think it will get that high. 

Politicians have been weighing in on the gas situation. GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul even used a debate in Arizona this week to claim that on that day, gas prices hit $6 a gallon in Florida.

Courtesy of The Florida Orchestra

The Florida Orchestra is hosting an extended stay by the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.  It's part of the Florida Orchestra's multi-year cultural exchange. 

Late this year, the NSOC will be coming to America for its first U.S. tour.  And while it will perform in many places, the musicians will be in the Tampa Bay area a little longer, for master classes and for a joint Chamber Music Concert at Tampa's Historic Cuban Club.   Read more about it here.

Courtesy of South Florida Sun Sentinel

The latest Florida Department of Education ranks  Palm Beach County's Hagen Elementary School a "B" school.

But teachers there want to improve performance on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test or FCAT and they are even willing to resort to a white lie,  says the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

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