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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.

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The Tampa Bay region consistently ranks as one of the most dangerous places in the nation for pedestrians and cyclists.

This week on Florida Matters, we're talking about how to improve safety on the roads while balancing that with the needs of drivers eager to get where they need to go as fast as possible.

For today's podcast , Florida Matters host  Robin Sussingham is bringing you along on the tour she took through the William Dean Chocolates kitchen.  It’s like a real-life trip with Willy Wonka through the Chocolate Factory. Is it possible to sample a little too much chocolate?  We'll find out.

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After the Parkland, Florida, school shooting last February, a new state law requires public schools to put armed guards on every campus. Host Robin Sussingham talks about the practical ramifications of that with Superintendent Kurt Browning of Pasco County Schools; Superintendent Jacqueline Byrd of Polk County Schools; and Bridget Ziegler, chairwoman of the Sarasota County School Board.

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The news that 17 people, including young teenagers, had been gunned down in Parkland while going about their school day on Valentine’s Day this year sent shocks of outrage, anguish and calls to do something to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

One result is a new law that says schools must have someone carrying a gun, sometimes called a school resource officer, who could respond in the event of a shooter on campus.

This week on Florida Matters, we're talking with Tampa Bay area officials about how their school districts are complying with a new state law that requires there to be at least one armed security guard in every school. 

In this podcast, host Robin Sussingham talks to political reporter and Tampa Bay Times correspondent William March and WUSF News Director Mary Shedden about the goings-on in Florida's political scene. There's enough controversy to keep it interesting. Comparisons to an episode of "Survivor" are made.

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State politicians are jockeying for position before the August primaries. Pulse nightclub first responders are still struggling with PTSD more than two years after the mass shooting that killed 49 people. We take a deeper dive into these stories on this week’s Florida Matters monthly news roundtable.


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Parkland, Florida, high school student and mass shooting survivor Leonor Muñoz records a riveting audio diary for this week’s Florida Matters. On this week's podcast, host Robin Sussingham and Florida Matters producer Stephanie Colombini sit down with reporters from Miami’s public radio station WLRN to talk about Leonor’s experience, and how they’re covering the aftermath of the massacre.


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Seniors at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland recently celebrated graduation, but they had to do so while still dealing with the trauma from the February mass shooting. This week on Florida Matters, we meet one of the graduates and hear about her life since the massacre.


Robin Sussingham sits down with Jeff Huffman, meteorologist with the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network, to talk about how much he hates -- really hates -- to be asked about the seasonal hurricane forecast. It's irrelevant! And not very accurate! Plus, how to lower your anxiety level as a hurricane approaches.

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This week on Florida Matters we talk to weather experts and hear stories about how communities across the state are preparing for the 2018 hurricane season.


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Hurricane season is officially underway. This week on Florida Matters we'll talk with weather experts and hear stories about how communities across the state are preparing, including Everglades City, which is still trying to piece itself back together more than eight months after Hurricane Irma.


Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

While across the nation the cultural and political tug-of-war over health care rages on, locally, healers keep on healing. But providing care for people can get complicated when they don’t have health insurance.


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In this podcast, WUSF's Robin Sussingham, Stephanie Colombini and Julio Ochoa break down the recent Florida Matters Town Hall that was recorded in front of a live audience in St. Petersburg.

Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

Florida Matters recently hosted a town hall event in St. Petersburg about providing health care to the uninsured. We're taking another listen to highlights from the panel discussion and questions from the audience on this week's episode.


Florida sues the nation’s biggest drug makers, political battles heat up and Hillsborough attracts a Fortune 500 company headquarters.

Those are just some of the latest state news stories we’ll discuss with reporters on this month’s edition of our Florida Matters news roundtable.


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This week on Florida Matters we're hosting another edition of our monthly news roundtable.

We'll talk with journalists about some of the latest stories impacting our state, including Florida's lawsuit against opioid companies and phosphate giant Mosaic moving its headquarters to Hillsborough County.


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He'll tell you himself: the most dangerous place in Polk County is to get between Sheriff Grady Judd and a TV camera. Polk County Sheriff Judd is never at a loss for words or opinions on criminal behavior, and he's played a big role in the response to the school shooting in Parkland. Florida Matters host Robin Sussingham talks to the Sheriff about juvenile justice and more.

Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is never at a loss for words or opinions on criminal behavior. He has recently played a major role in the response to the school shooting in Parkland.

This week on Florida Matters, we talk with Sheriff Judd as part of our ongoing “Newsmaker” series.


Polk County Sheriff's Office Facebook

This week on Florida Matters we're hosting another edition of our ongoing "Newsmaker" series. We talk with Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd about a number of issues, including the programs his department runs that train and arm staff members in schools to fend off active shooters.


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Taxpayers in Tampa Bay have never given the “green light” to a transit rail system, but maybe fast, cheap buses will prove more popular.

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On this week's acronym-rich podcast,  we're talking about the future of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in Tampa Bay with Dennis Hinebaugh,  the program director for transit research at CUTR, The Center for Urban Transportation Research, and the Director of CUTR's National Bus Rapid Transit Institute (NBRTI); Brad Miller, the CEO of the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA); and  Sharon Calvert,  co-founder of the Hillsborough County tea party and a longtime critic of expensive transit projects. Dennis tells Florida Matters host Robin Sussingham that BRT is not the consolation prize for a failed push for light rail in the area, but a real transit solution.

This week on Florida Matters we'll talk about some of the latest news impacting our state during another edition of our monthly reporters’ roundtable.


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Following our Florida Matters reporters roundtable for April, host Robin Sussingham picks up the conversation with a discussion on changes in Cuba; the new museum of western and wildlife art in St. Pete; a ban on greyhound racing; and how to juice a marijuana plant. She's joined by longtime political writer William March, Justine Griffin of the Tampa Bay Times, and Florida Matters Producer Stephanie Colombini.

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Flamingos are Floridians, too! Sandhill cranes, Pileated Woodpeckers, egrets and pelicans -- Florida  is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to birds. Florida Matters host Robin Sussingham talks to Ann Paul, Tampa Bay area Regional Coordinator for Audubon's Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries; Mary Keith, president of the Tampa Audubon Society; and  Dave Goodwin, former president of the Florida Ornithological Society, about Florida's birds -- their success stories and their perils.

Doug DeNeve / Tampa Audubon Society

The Tampa Bay Area is a mecca for bird-watchers year round. But spring is particularly special, when Florida’s native species are joined by large numbers of other birds migrating north.


Doug DeNeve

This week on Florida Matters we're talking about bird-watching in the Tampa Bay area and the people who make it their hobby – or life passion.


Madison Marquette / Flickr

Shopping as we know it is changing fast. Big box stores are vanishing; Amazon is going bricks and mortar. What does it all mean for the health of our local economy?


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Retail is changing fast, and there will be winners and losers. Florida Matters Host Robin Sussingham talks to the Tampa Bay Business Journal's Ashley Gurbal Kritzer; David Ortinau, a Marketing Professor at USF's  Muma College of Business; and Paul Rutledge, First Vice President, retail brokerage in CBRE’s Tampa office about the secrets to retail success. And also, why do the big drug stores always want to be right next to each other?

Melanie Levi / Flickr

This week on Florida Matters we're talking about how the retail industry is changing in an increasingly digital world.


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