Arts and culture

Clearwater is One of The Most Honest Cities in U.S.

Aug 21, 2014

Clearwater was one of the most honest among top-ranked cities in the U.S., earning an honesty rating of 97 percent, tied with six other cities including Detroit, Louisville, Ky. and Santa Monica, Calif.

Author Kathleen Flinn comes by her love of cooking the natural way. Her mom, dad, grandmother and grandfather all cooked. Flinn grew up on a farm in Michigan, where her mother baked bread, canned vegetables, made jam and more. 

The family went fishing (on and off ice),  hunting, camping and her folks even joined the local German-American club, even though they weren't German.  

Flinn is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Sharper Your Knife, the Less you Cry. And her latest book, Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good, is chock-full of family recipes, including some of the sweets her mom used to bribe the local radio station DJ, so he would play her dad's favorite song at a certain time each day. 

The HistoryMakers

Poet Maya Angelou, actress Ruby Dee and even President Barack Obama have something in common. They've all participated in The History Makers project--the country's largest African American collection of video interviews capturing the struggles and achievements of the black experience.Those 2,600 HistoryMakers videos have a new home--the Library of Congress.

It was 1985 when Henrietta Smith was the first African-American faculty member at the University of South Florida at the School of Library Science.  

Julia Duba / WLRN

Oscar-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams died this week.

Williams had many iconic roles, and he filmed one of his great performances right here in South Florida.

"The Birdcage" is set in The Carlyle hotel on South Beach. 


Many in the Tampa Bay area braced for what they thought would be a direct hit from Hurricane Charley ten years ago. But, the category 4 storm took a right turn and made a direct hit on Punta Gorda, Friday, August 13, 2004 at about 4:45 p.m. at least that’s when the town clock stopped according to Wayne Sallade, director of emergency operations for Charlotte County.

Back then, Sallade had 17 years of experience on the job, but nothing can really prepare one for the kind of destruction that Charley wrought.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

In a matter of hours August 13th, 2004, Hurricane Charley demolished historic downtown Punta Gorda. Quaint brick shops collapsed. Glass office buildings were blown out. Thousands of mobile homes disintegrated pounded by the 150 mph winds.

The next day, Wally Satar used a tow truck to pull apart twisted steel, engine blocks and welding tanks at his brother’s Mystic Gas Station. He was trying to salvage tools and anything that didn’t blow away.

The only thing left standing  was one wall and a white car perched atop the hydraulic lift.

Ten years ago Wednesday, (Aug. 13),  Hurricane Charley swirled its way inland through the quaint DeSoto County town of Arcadia. Sustained winds of a hundred miles an hour ripped down walls and roofs from its historic main street - dealing a major blow to its antiques district. WUSF's Steve Newborn was there in the aftermath, and returned a decade later to see how the town has changed.

Ten years ago, the grind of buzz saws was the sound heard most often in Arcadia

Jazz Pianist Kenny Drew Jr. Passes Away

Aug 6, 2014

Kenny Drew Jr., a Bay Area pianist and composer known to jazz audiences around the world, died this past Sunday. WUSF 89.7 Jazz Director Bob Seymour shares this remembrance:

He was immensely talented and had a piano sound identifiable within just a few notes. Kenny Drew Jr., the son of a major jazz piano player, was taught largely by his aunt, and that early classical training was apparent in the virtuosity that was always a big part of his sound.

Most of the plaintiffs in this year's same-sex marriage cases have been people who just wanted to get married.

But Heather Brassner was different -- she wanted a same-sex divorce. 

Brassner, a West Palm Beach art dealer, wants to marry her partner, Jennifer Feagins, but she's still in a civil union that she entered in Vermont with her ex 14 years ago.

Chris O'Meara / Associated Press

When David Price was finally traded, it was to an unexpected bidder.

The Detroit Tigers added another Cy Young Award winner to their star-studded rotation, acquiring Price from Tampa Bay in a blockbuster deal Thursday. The Rays received left-hander Drew Smyly and minor league infielder Willy Adames from the Tigers. Tampa Bay also got infielder Nick Franklin from Seattle, with Detroit outfielder Austin Jackson going to the Mariners.

Mohamed Ghumrawi and Sholom Neistein have been friends for six years.

Sholom is Jewish. Mohamed is Muslim and of Palestinian descent. 

Florida Schools Get Ready for Flood of Border Kids

Jul 25, 2014

School officials in Hillsborough County, which has a large Hispanic population, did not respond to a request for information. In Pasco County, shelters expect to double their capacity. Tampa NBC affiliate WFLA reported the Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services is asking Pasco County’s Planning Commission to double shelter capacity to 32 beds to accommodate more border children. But neighbors of the center have mixed reactions.

The car that drives itself. That sci-fi fantasy will be coming to life this weekend, as Audi will be test driving its automated car on the Leroy Selmon Expressway in Tampa.

The Selmon Expressway is one of the few state-approved testing spots in America for driverless cars.
Brad Stertz, Communications Manager for Audi, says Audi is the first to demo to the public the functions of a highly autonomous car.

Wedding bells are not ringing yet for same-sex couples in Monroe County.

Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones had hoped to apply for a marriage license on Tuesday after last week Monroe Circuit Judge Luis Garcia ruled in their favor seeking the right to marry. But State Attorney General Pam Bondi immediately appealed Garcia’s decision, automatically putting the process on hold.

TB History Center Showcases Florida Highwaymen Art

Jul 22, 2014
Tampa Bay History Center

Back in the 1950s and '60s, a group of African-Americans, known as the Highwaymen, sold Florida landscape paintings to locals and tourists on the side of the road. The paintings were sold for only a few bucks at the time but after the '90s, their value soared. The Tampa Bay History Center is showcasing these prized paintings.

Monroe Circuit Judge Luis Garcia declared Florida's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional Thursday afternoon.

Tariq Abu Khdeir Welcomed Home

Jul 17, 2014

Tariq Abu Khdeir, the Palestinian-American teen who was beaten and detained by Israeli police earlier this month, returned home last night after being released from house arrest in East Jerusalem. Abu Khdeir was met with loud cheers from friends and family as he walked through the terminal at Tampa International Airport around 10:30 p.m. His face no longer bears the marks of his beating by Israeli police, but the fifteen-year-old said that he remains burdened by the stories of those unable to escape the violence, and hopes that Americans will too.

Elaine Litherland / Sarasota Herald-Tribune

A reporter and photographer from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune took their first trip to Cuba recently. Dance critic and arts writer Carrie Seidman and photographer-videographer Elaine Litherland covered a Sarasota ballet troupe taking part in an international dance competition.

They documented the life of Ariel Serrano, who defected to the U.S. in 1993 and found his way to Sarasota. His 17-year-old son, Francisco, the only American ever to dance in the April event, followed in his dad's footsteps, and danced his way to the gold medal.

It's probably the most oft-cited literary fantasy of all time: I'm talking about that passage in Catcher in the Rye where Holden Caulfield says: "What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn't happen much, though."

A Florida community with the highest concentration of Greek people in the country has been recognized as a Traditional Cultural Property by the National Park Service. Locals hope the designation for the Tarpon Springs Greektown Historic District brings tourists to the area.

Surplus Medical Supplies to Help Syrian Refugees

Jul 8, 2014
Wikipedia Commons

A 40-foot container with a $100,000 worth of medical supplies will be leaving Tampa on Friday. It's headed to Turkey, where it will then be distributed to field hospitals inside Syria that treat refugees and others.

USF student Noor Shakfeh, a Syrian-American, is collaborating with the non-profit Advocates for World Health (AWH) to bring a container with medical supplies, like dialysis and ventilator machines, to the Syrian American Medical Society.

Ari Goldman reached his goal of becoming a New York Times reporter by the time he hit 25. Mastering the cello has been a longer journey.  

Goldman picked the cello back up decades later, first playing with his son's children's orchestra and ultimately finding a place to play in The Late Starters String Orchestra.  

Unlike other music-making organizations in New York City, which Goldman says are like "auditioning for Broadway," with this orchestra, "if you think you can play, you can play."  

First Adoptive Community of its Kind in Florida

Jul 2, 2014
Yoselis Ramos / WUSF

There was a time when community meant more than cookie-cutter houses with manicured lawns. Children not only responded to parents but their neighbors too. A helpful neighbor was always just a phone call or a few yards away. Recreating that sense of community is the goal of one Tampa community for adoptive families.

New Life Village is a community for people - whether it's a single parent or an empty-nest couple - looking to adopt foster care children. Even older adults can be a part of the community as surrogate grandparents.

Miss Florida pageant's Facebook page

The Supreme Court hasn't been asked to rule on this - yet - but an apparent voting mishap has led officials to strip the winner of last weekend's Miss Florida pageant of her crown and award it to the first runnerup.

St. Pete Pride a Boost to Local Economy

Jun 27, 2014
Win McNamee / Getty Images / NPR

St. Petersburg Pride Weekend is here.

In its 12th year, the event celebrating diversity in the LGBT community is expanding from four days this year instead of one. It’s also predicted to bring more money to the city of St. Petersburg and its businesses.

The city estimates that Pride Weekend will provide an $18 million economic boost for the city, up from $10 million in previous years. Organizers say more than 100,000 people have attended past celebrations of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Tampa Soccer Fans Keep Cheering Despite Loss

Jun 26, 2014

MacDinton's Pub in Tampa was painted red, white and blue for the USA's World Cup showdown against Germany. America lost 1-0, but will still advance to the next round, leaving fans like Todd Brindle relieved, but not overjoyed.

"I'm happy we're going on to the next round, that's always a good thing," Brindle said. "Not happy with the way we played today. We played sloppy. Horrible touches, bad passing."

In Brazil, heavy rain made it a slippery match but USA fan Beth Bryan was not going to let her team's loss rain on her parade.

Marco Borggrave

The Florida Orchestra has named Michael Francis its new Music Director. He's 37-years-old, English and a double bass player. 

1 Million Cups: The Perfect Place For Entrepreneurs

Jun 25, 2014
Nathan Powell

The Greenhouse in St. Petersburg helps grow entrepreneurs. Every Wednesday morning, a group called 1 Million Cups meets to give entrepreneurs the chance to pitch their ideas, mold their businesses and get a free cup of coffee. 

Matt Joyce of the Tampa Bay Rays unintentionally pulled off the kind of trick you couldn't do if you tried it a thousand times: he hit a baseball directly back into a pitching machine, which then - as unthinking, heartless mechanical devices are prone to do - fired the ball right back at him. See the video in this story from NPR.

The report, which uses data extracted from the U.S. Census' American Community Survey, ranked the 48 states in the contiguous U.S. based on six different criteria, including long commutes, unemployment and amount of hours spent working. Each state's six scores were then averaged for a final score, which was then ranked from No. 1 to 48. Florida's high unemployment rate (11.3 percent) and high population of residents without health insurance (25.8 percent) helped the state earn the top spot