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Looking Back At WUSF In 2018


It's 2019. As WUSF prepares to bring you the news you rely on this year, we’re looking back at some of the station's big moments in 2018 through the lens of Florida Matters.

This "WUSF Year In Review" includes highlights from special reports and events that were featured in episodes of Florida Matters. And we remember the loss of our beloved colleague, former Florida Matters and Morning Edition host Carson Cooper.

Health Care Town Hall

We start with a look at health care. Health News Florida editor Julio Ochoa was part of a special project for the University of Southern California Center for Health Journalism's National Fellowship. He produced a series called "Their Only Option" about free clinics in the Tampa Bay area and how they help the uninsured.

Florida Matters hosted a special town hall event in February that took a deeper dive into this issue. We hear a portion of that conversation with panelists Julio Ochoa, Dr. Ajoy Kumar, Medical Director of the St. Petersburg Free Clinic and Jay Wolfson, PhD, Associate Vice President of USF Health.

Florida Wildlife Corridor

In April, we did a show on the Florida Wildlife Corridor's latest expedition. A team of explorers trekked through an area of wilderness in Central Florida that is threatened on all sides by urban development and transportation infrastructure like Interstate-4.

WUSF's Steve Newborn joined them. He later produced a special report on the area known as "Four Corners" in collaboration with the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.

Art Museums In Tampa Bay

WUSF hosts an ongoing series called "Art Populi" that highlights art and culture in Tampa Bay. This year, we won a Florida Associated Press Broadcasters Award for our 2017 series on live, local music. Our 2018 series focused on museums and galleries.

Florida Matters producer Stephanie Colombini takes us on a tour of the region's glass art scene.

Veterans Coming Home

WUSF participated in a special project funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting called "Veterans Coming Home," which looks at how members of the military transition into civilian life. WUSF videographer Andy Lalino produced a series of videos on veteran business owners.

Florida Matters hosted a screening of those videos in October that was followed by a discussion on veteran entrepreneurship. We hear panelist Russ Barnes, retired Air Force Col. And CEO of Systro Consulting, talk about how military training can help a veteran start a business.

Telling Tampa Bay Stories

Since 2016, WUSF has been teaming up with student journalists at the University of South Florida to highlight different areas in our region in a special series called "Telling Tampa Bay Stories."

This year we won a Griot Drum Award from the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists for our 2017 series on Tampa's Progress Village. Our 2018 series focused on Plant City.

We heard residents tell stories about some of the things the Hillsborough community is best known for, like its agricultural landscape and annual Strawberry Festival. But we also looked at other things that make Plant City special, like the Bing Rooming House.  It's a National Historic Site that was once a hotel for people of color during segregation.  We learn about the Bing House from Plant City resident William Thomas Jr.

Growing Unaffordable

Most recently, you may have heard WUSF's special week-long report "Growing Unaffordable." WUSF reporters Cathy Carter, Roberto Roldan and Stephanie Colombini spent months talking with housing experts and struggling renters to paint a picture of America's housing crunch here in Hillsborough County.

Florida Matters even joined in with a show that looked at alternative housing and how it may affect the affordability crisis. We hear the final piece in the series, which looks at possible solutions to the housing crisis.

Remembering Carson Cooper

Despite our many achievements, WUSF also suffered a tremendous loss last year.

Carson Cooper, WUSF's longtime host of Morning Edition and Florida Matters, passed away on July 28 after 18 years with the station. He was 58.

Florida Matters paid tribute to Carson in a special show that featured highlight from his career and memories from colleagues.

More Special Projects From WUSF:

USF Entrepreneurs

Throughout last year University Beat reporter Mark Schreiner profiled entrepreneurs with ties to the University of South Florida. We highlighted some of those stories in a Florida Matters episode this fall. Mark Schreiner is continuing the series this year, so keep an eye out for more stories about business owners with USF connections.

Hurricane Maria Survivors

WUSF reporter Roberto Roldan spoke with people who survived Hurricane Maria and relocated to the Tampa Bay area after their homes in Puerto Rico were destroyed. The stories he produced were featured during the Story Days in Tampa Bay Festival this fall and were included in a Florida Matters episode about the one-year anniversary of the storm.

I cover health care for WUSF and the statewide journalism collaborative Health News Florida. I’m passionate about highlighting community efforts to improve the quality of care in our state and make it more accessible to all Floridians. I’m also committed to holding those in power accountable when they fail to prioritize the health needs of the people they serve.