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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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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. 

Hurricane Dorian may become the strongest storm to hit Florida’s east coast since Hurricane Andrew. As The Florida Round was going on the air, it was tracking closer to the coast, but there were still lots of questions about where it will actually go.

We spent the full hour taking a closer look at how Floridians around the state are preparing for Dorian  with:

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. 


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.

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.


Podcast microphone.
Tumisu/Pixabay

Whether you’re interested in politics, music, crime, technology or just about anything, there is likely a podcast for you. But while millions of people enjoy listening to podcasts every day, others still don’t understand this relatively new form of media.

This week on Florida Matters: Podcasting 101.


Mosquitos are just one of the types of insects out in full force in Florida this season.
CDC

Lovebugs, termites, mosquitoes, cockroaches – there is no doubt that Florida is home to many insects, and they seem to thrive in the state's hot, humid conditions.

You can’t avoid them, so this week on Florida Matters we’re talking about how to deal with them.


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.


Citrus greening shrinks the size of oranges.
Jessica Meszaros / WUSF Public Media

Citrus has shaped the state’s identity for 100 years. But it has been a tough ten years with freezes, hurricanes, development pressure and, worst of all, citrus greening.

This week on Florida Matters we take a deep dive into the state of Florida’s citrus industry.


Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, right, with Florida Matters host Robin Sussingham
Lesley Laney / WUSF Public Media

Jane Castor is in her first weeks as the new mayor of Tampa. Her position as the first gay mayor in the Southeastern U.S. didn't come up much during the campaign, but she made national news the day after her victory. 

Lawmakers in Tallahassee are returning home after two months of hashing out bills - some of which could soon become law. Florida Matters host Robin Sussingham talks with Janelle Irwin, a reporter with Florida Politics, and Steve Bousquet, a columnist with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and the Orlando Sentinel.

Construction in downtown Tampa
Daylina Miller / WUSF Public Media

This week on Florida Matters, we talk about zoning and how it affects the way our state manages growth.

It may sound mundane, but zoning and building regulations affect us intimately because they hit us where we live.


Florida Matters hosted a taping in front of a live audience during the St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs. The topic: Tampa Bay as an international dining destination.
Stephanie Colombini / WUSF Public Media

These are exciting times for eating out in Tampa Bay. Our cuisine is getting better and more varied and starting to draw national attention.

  

The invasive tegu lizards are known to eat the eggs of some of Florida's native wildlife. Recently scientists discovered gopher tortoises, a Threatened species, in some tegu stomachs.
Mike Avery / USDA Wildlife Services

Florida is home to more than 500 invasive species. Not all of these plants and animals are big and scary like pythons, but they can still harm the state’s native wildlife, and a lot of time and money is spent fighting them.

This week Florida Matters speaks with scientists on the front lines of this battle about how we’re doing.


Jane Castor, left, and David Straz are running to become mayor of Tampa.
Campaign photos

Voters in Florida's third-largest city will go to the polls April 23 in the runoff for Tampa's mayor.

During the March election, former Police Chief Jane Castor almost got the 50 percent plus one needed to avoid a runoff. And retired banker and philanthropist David Straz came in second of the field of seven candidates, with around 16 percent of the vote.

Florida’s legislative session has been underway for almost a month and there have already been some big changes.

We talk with reporters about key issues lawmakers are considering and how their actions could affect our lives on this week’s Florida Matters.


Pixabay

Historians and local old-timers say that once, Tampa Bay was overflowing with delicious oysters.

And that some rivers, like the Manatee River, were once so full of mullet that they roiled the water and their noise would keep nearby residents awake at night.

Tourists at Clearwater Beach.
WUSF Public Media

Tourism is a vital industry for our state, and Florida Matters is taking a look at how businesses fared in the wake of red tide, what's new with our theme parks, and where tourism is heading after another record-breaking year.


Did you know Tampa Bay was once filled with oysters you could actually eat? Or that people used to turn their noses up at grouper?

DeSantis To Lawmakers: Be Bold On Big Issues

Mar 5, 2019
The Florida Channel

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gave an anti-tax, pro-environment State of the State address Tuesday, asking lawmakers to be bold as they tackle issues like education, school safety and health care.

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