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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.

Contact Florida Matters at floridamatters@wusf.org

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Despite not being officially allowed to live in Florida until 1763, Jewish people escaping expulsion and exclusion were among the earliest settlers of the state.

A new comprehensive history – "Jews of Florida: Centuries of Stories" – takes a look at that historic individuals who include politicians, business leaders, artists and Nobel Prize winners.

As the Florida Legislature opens its 2020 session, Gov. Ron DeSantis addressed House and Senate members Tuesday during his State of the State address.

He discussed some of the “bold” steps the state took in 2019 around such areas as education, the environment, health care and public safety, and stressed that “we have much more to do.”

This week on Florida Matters, we share some of our favorite discussions about plants, animals and environmental challenges facing our state.

It was a year full of politics, historic anniversaries and ever changing industries here in Florida. This week on Florida Matters, we take a look back at a few stories that helped shape our area in 2019.

Holiday traditions take shape in many forms, and this week on Florida Matters, we take a look at some of our WUSF staff's favorite family holiday traditions.  

Despair, rage, and calls for help are coming from teenagers in Florida. Some are emotionally disturbed while others are obsessed with death or holding grudges. Even more disturbing—many of these young people have easy access to guns. 

On Friday’s Roundup we discussed school safety in Florida. Reporting by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel this week found that a disturbing number of violent threats against students and teachers come from mentally impaired children who are fixated on violence, and have easy access to guns.

This week on Florida Matters, we talk about how the environmental history of the Gulf of Mexico shaped human life over the years with Jack E. Davis, whose book The Gulf: The Making of An American Sea won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for History.


It started 30 years ago. That's when Rex Jensen first got a call to check out some land owned by the Uihlein family just off I-75 near Sarasota.  That is all Jensen needed to see and he knew this land was going to be a success.

This story originally published on Nov. 19, 2019

This week on Florida Matters, we take a look into the development of Lakewood Ranch. 

We bring you a special Thanksgiving program featuring some of our favorite stories about food in the Sunshine State. There is a lot to be thankful for here in the land of citrus, seafood, and Spanish flavor with a splash of southern charm.

travelerfolio.com

From roller coasters to virtual rides, Florida's theme parks have helped redefine family entertainment. With Disney experiencing its own struggles with long lines and rising ticket prices, we wanted to learn what is being done to deliver this once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

This program originally aired August 6, 2019

Many people may not realize that wine making in Florida is a billion-dollar industry. There are dozens of wineries across the state employing nearly 100,000 people, and university research departments dedicated to viticulture.

Department of Defense

Vaping lung-related injuries are on the rise, and there are still many unanswered questions as to why.

Sen. Bill Nelson was a three-term Democrat who served in Washington for more than 45 years before losing his seat to Rick Scott in the 2018 mid-term election.

The hepatitis a vaccine
Julio Ochoa / WUSF Public Media

This week on Florida Matters, we discuss the concerns of more than 2,800 cases of hepatitis A being diagnosed in Florida so far this year. It has become one of the worst outbreaks of the liver disease in the country.

Mass transit in Tampa Bay's densely populated big cities grabs the headlines. But there's a case to be made that transportation has even more of an impact on people living in rural areas.

Patron boarding bus
HART

With the population in the Tampa Bay area growing so has the traffic. Transportation leaders have proposed many ideas about how to help people get around faster in the region, but residents are waiting on results. 

This week on Florida Matters we talk about how some of our region’s airports are changing to make travel more convenient.

Florida is one of the nation's largest producers of honey and is a hub for beekeeping, both commercially and as a hobby.

In a special reporting collaboration, WUSF News and the Zest Podcast are taking a closer look at honey bees over the next few weeks.

Paul Mott (l) and Brad Pupello participated in One Small Step, a project WUSF produced in partnership with StoryCorps. It brings two people of differing political backgrounds together for civil conversation.
Andy Lalino / WUSF Public Media

Over the next few weeks, WUSF will be sharing stories produced for One Small Step, the latest project from StoryCorps. Each segment features two strangers, with completely different political beliefs, sitting down together and having a conversation. 

The Florida Aquarium recently announced they had induced Atlantic coral to spawn in a laboratory for the first time.
Florida Aquarium

Florida's coral reefs are in trouble. Scientists say they've been declining for decades.

But researchers have very recently come up with some exciting results that they say show promise in restoring these beautiful and important marine communities.

This week on Florida Matters we talk about what communities are doing to prevent sewage spills.
Julio Ochoa / WUSF Public Media

This week on Florida Matters we talk about what communities are doing to keep from releasing sewage and other contaminants into our local waterways. Part of the problem comes from aging wastewater and stormwater systems. 


The Tampa Bay area is becoming a hub for craft beer both statewide and nationally, with the highest density of breweries in Florida.

This week on Florida Matters, we take another listen to our show about beer.

Republican State Representative James Grant says Florida’s Constitution should operate like a constitution and that people shouldn't be playing political games with it.
JamesGrantFL.com

A proposed new “citizens amendment” could be on the ballot for Florida voters in 2020. It would replace two words in the state constitution with one word. Instead saying every citizen can vote, it would say only a citizen can vote.

The measure is picking up steam, even though it’s already illegal for noncitizens to vote. In fact, a group called Florida Citizens Voters has raised more than $4.6 million and says it has gathered more than the double of the signatures that a petition needs to be included in next year's ballot.

CBD is now legal in Florida, but not all products are created equal.
Courtesy Second and Seed

CBD is showing up more and more in Florida, from gas stations to grocery stories. It was being sold long before it became legal in the state on July 1. But there is a lot of confusion about whether it’s safe and what is legitimate.

The loggerhead turtle is the most common sea turtle found in Florida. Females return to their nesting beach every two or more years.
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium

By Robin Sussingham, Stephanie Colombini, Steve Newborn and Cathy Carter.

They’ve had to battle shark attacks, pollution, massive beach developments and confusing light sources, but sea turtles are bouncing back.

With nesting season well underway, Florida Matters host Robin Sussingham speaks with experts about how sea turtles are faring and efforts to protect them in our state.


Astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the moon during the Apollo 11 mission.
NASA

By Robin Sussingham and Stephanie Colombini 

Saturday July 20 marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, considered by many to be one of the most significant achievements in U.S. history.

This week on Florida Matters we talk with a filmmaker who produced a documentary about the historic event. 


summer reading
Pixabay

By Robin Sussingham and Stephanie Colombini

Summer can be a great time to catch up on reading, so this week Florida Matters is offering up recommendations for good books to check out this season.


USF President Judy Genshaft stands in front of a fountain on the Tampa campus.
USF Marketing and Communications

With University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft’s July 1 retirement approaching, this week's Florida Matters looks back at her 19 years leading USF.

Host Robin Sussingham talks to Assistant News Directors Steve Newborn and Mark Schreiner, who have covered Genshaft since both arrived at WUSF in 2001, shortly after Genshaft became USF's sixth president.


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