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Florida Matters

Florida Matters tackles tough issues, highlights little-known stories from our part of the world, and provides a greater perspective of what it means to live in the Sunshine State. Join us each week as we journey across the state to explore the issues important to Floridians and cover the challenges facing our community and our state. Listen to the show on WUSF 89.7 Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 7:30 a.m.  It's also on Classical WSMR 89.1 and 103.9 on Mondays at 10 p.m.

Jeanette Abrahamsen / USF Zimmerman School of Advertising & Mass Communications

Last month, the first installment of our series, "Telling Tampa Bay Stories," took us to Plant City, where we heard stories about the history and development of the Hillsborough County community.

This week's Florida Matters highlights some of the places and events that make Plant City special.


Jeanette Abrahamsen

This week on Florida Matters we focus on the places and events that make Plant City special, like the Plant City Photo Archives and History Center.

Film Tampa Bay

This week on Florida Matters we talk about how the state’s film industry has fared since the loss of a tax incentive program and how it can survive in the future.

Jeanette Abrahamsen / USF Zimmerman School of Advertising & Mass Communications

Last year, our series, "Telling Tampa Bay Stories," took us to Tampa's Progress Village. This year, the focus is Plant City -- a Hillsborough County community where agriculture and development, history and progress all meet.


Sam Newlon

Plant City is best-known for its annual Strawberry Festival, but there is much more to this Hillsborough community.

For example, some may not know the city is also home to the Bing Rooming House, a National Historic Site that was once a hotel for people of color during segregation. 

Florida Matters host Robin Sussingham recently moderated a community discussion about veteran entrepreneurs with professionals who've been working on training and educating former soldiers on skills they need. 

Not only to integrate back into society, but to take on the risks and rewards of being an entrepreneur. The panel took place in front of a live audience at USF St. Petersburg, and we also took some questions from the audience. In this podcast, you'll hear about American Freedom Distillery and from one of its founders, former Green Beret Scott Neil.

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WUSF Public Media

Transitioning out of the military can be tough, but some veterans are finding a new role in civilian life as business owners.


The political stakes in Florida couldn’t get much higher.

On Tuesday, voters will pick a new governor and a U.S. Senator. Congressional and state legislative seats are up for grabs, as well as Attorney General and a slew of local offices. There’s also a long list of constitutional amendments -- on everything from gambling and voting rights to homestead taxes and vaping.

On this week's podcast, Florida Matters Host Robin Sussingham sits down with long time political journalist and analyst William March to talk about the political zeitgeist, whether polls can be trusted, and whether the issue of gun control is working for the Democrats.

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Mary Shedden

This week on Florida Matters we discuss the key races in the upcoming general election and the power wielded by voters in the Interstate 4 corridor.


WUSF Public Media

With voting day only a week away, Florida's midterm election is shaping up to be another nail-biter.

To help you understand how the Tampa Bay area will influence this year's big races, WUSF's Robin Sussingham sat down with political analyst and USF Professor Emerita Susan MacManus. MacManus said the youngest voters - Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z - are likely to decide this election, whether they show up to the ballot box or not. And the I-4 corridor remains a strong predictor for how the rest of the state will vote.

  

This week on Florida Matters, we talk about the film industry in Florida. Florida cancelled its tax credits for film makers in 2016 -- and now industry observers say some big productions are moving to places like Georgia, which are still giving out big financial incentives. But several studies have come out saying state support for the film industry might not be worth the money, including one from Florida's Office of Economic and Demographic Research, which showed a return on investment of just 18 cents per dollar spent by the state.

Flickr

This week on Florida Matters we're talking about how the state's film industry has fared since it ended a tax incentive program in 2016.

In this week's podcast, Florida Matters host Robin Sussingham sits down with Lillian Dunlap, the executive director of Your Real Stories and creator of Story Days in Tampa Bay. The annual storytelling festival has just finished up, and Robin asks Lillian what she hopes listeners will come away with.

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Boyzell Hosey / Tampa Bay Times

Story Days in Tampa Bay recently hosted its fifth annual festival in St. Petersburg. This week on Florida Matters we hear excerpts from a performance  that reflects on Hurricanes Irma and Maria a year after the storms.

Florida Matters is hosting a special panel discussion about veteran entrepreneurs in front of a live audience in St. Petersburg and we want you to join us.

WMFE

The Pulse nightclub shooting on June 12, 2016 was, at the time, the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, leaving 49 dead.

What if more victims could have lived? This year a peer-reviewed study concluded 16 victims died with potentially survivable wounds.


Forty-nine people died in the Pulse nightclub mass shooting in Orlando in 2016, but new information indicates that 16 of those victims may have been able to survive their injuries -- if they'd been treated sooner.

Robin Sussingham talks to John Montes, an Emergency Services Specialist with the National Fire Protection Association about the NFPA's new standards for first responders.


WMFE

49 people were killed in the Pulse Nightclub shooting in 2016. But an investigation from Health News Florida's Abe Aboraya and Pro Publica finds some people may have survived if paramedics had been allowed inside the club sooner.

This week on Florida Matters we hear that story and talk about how response efforts have changed since the massacre.


Julio Ochoa / WUSF Public Media

More and more Floridians every week are signing up for access to medical marijuana, and with over 100,000 patients already on the registry, there is clearly money to be made.

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Florida Matters host Robin Sussingham speaks to Kim Rivers, CEO of Trulieve; Daniel Elias, president of Pharmacology University, a medical marijuana education program; and Darrin Potter, Chief Horticulture Officer at GrowHealthy in Lake Wales. GrowHealthy and Trulieve are licensed medical marijuana treatment centers and are authorized to cultivate, process and dispense medical marijuana in Florida. They tell us that you're going to need very deep pockets to get started in the medical cannabis business in Florida.

Mark, flickr

Medical marijuana is becoming increasingly available in Florida despite ongoing court battles over state regulations for the young industry. We're talking with people who work in the business this week on Florida Matters.

Abandoned Animals Strain System In Puerto Rico

Sep 22, 2018
Kaitlin Hall/WUFT

As the sun rises above San Juan’s Peninsula de Cantera neighborhood, stray pigs roam the streets looking for scraps of food.

Gisselle Garcia/WUFT

For nearly seven decades, generation after generation has operated Carlos Bonnet-Vargas’ bookstand on the colorful streets of Old San Juan.

With painted green shelves, messy piles of books and magazines and Puerto Rican flags flying high, the kiosk has attracted enough customers to keep each owner afloat.

But after Hurricane Maria, Bonnet-Vargas is struggling to make ends meet.

Puerto Rico National Guard

It’s been a year since Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico. Recovery continues on the devastated island, but transitions are also happening here in Florida, where many residents evacuated and some have chosen to stay.

Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico a year ago this month, and on WUSF's Florida Matters we're hearing the stories of people who fled to the Tampa area when they had to evacuate. On today's podcast, a conversation with WUSF reporter Roberto Roldan, who interviewed some of the hurricane evacuees.

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Roberto Roldan

Many Puerto Rican’s lost everything when Hurricane Maria made landfall on Sept. 20, 2017. Tens of thousands of people made the decision to take what belongings they had left and travel to the mainland. Many have started new lives in Central and South Florida. These new Floridians already have had significant influence on political races, the public school system and affordable housing.

This week on Florida Matters, we'll hear the stories of two people who chose to make the Tampa Bay area their new home:

Robin Sussingham had a chance to speak with Jordan Peterson before his appearance at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg this weekend, catching up with him while he was in Miami for a book tour event there. Jordan Peterson is a clinical psychologist and a professor at the University of Toronto. He's the author of the bestseller 12 rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, which carries a message of personal responsibility and the path toward finding a meaningful life.  He's also a YouTube star and has a very popular podcast.  

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Dez Williams, Mark Schreiner, Justified Films, Stuby

WUSF’s University Beat has been doing something new this year – profiling entrepreneurs with ties to the University of South Florida.

That includes faculty, students and alumni who have started their own businesses, ranging from watermelon-flavored water and anti-nausea wristbands to apps and movie production companies.

WUSF's expert on all things relating to the University of South Florida, Mark Schreiner, joins Robin Sussingham to talk about his series on entrepreneurs with ties to USF. Plus, USF President Judy Genshaft has announced her retirement, and Mark discusses her role in lifting the reputation and quality of the university.

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