Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Piper Kerman, of Orange is the New Black fame, to speak in St. Pete

Posted By on Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 1:26 PM

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Fans of the Netflix show will probably be stoked to hear that Piper Kerman, who wrote the book Orange is the New Black, which inspired the popular series, is coming to St. Pete March 5th to give a talk at Eckerd College.

Kerman, who went to prison on drug trafficking charges related to events from a decade prior, wrote the book in large part to expose prison conditions for women, and a call for reform.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

WMNF announces new GM hire

Posted By on Tue, Feb 3, 2015 at 7:31 AM

  • WMNF
Disclosure: This reporter is a former employee of WMNF as well as a longtime listener.

After months of searching, community radio station WMNF 88.5 FM has announced it will be bringing on current WUSF All Things Considered host Craig Kopp as the station's new general manager.

Kopp will be filling the void that opened when the station's board of directors voted to fire Sydney White as manager last June.

Like White, Kopp has an extensive public radio background, particularly with NPR stations, only Kopp's experience lies in news. The station recently cut back substantially on its news programming as a result of its biannual program changes. That cut included the axing of a daily half-hour local news broadcast helmed by Sean Kinane, the station's assistant news and public affairs director, in favor of shorter broadcasts scattered throughout the day, something for which the station has drawn criticism.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Jon Stewart hilariously rips Florida before Rubio interview on Daily Show

Posted By on Wed, Jan 14, 2015 at 1:04 PM

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Writers for The Daily Show must have had a blast coming up with Florida-centric punchlines - from the guy who choked to death during a cockroach-eating contest to (who else?) George Zimmerman. The aim was to skewer the state's most bizarre residents ahead of host Jon Stewart's interview with U.S. Senator from Florida Marco Rubio last night. Rubio, of course, is a staunchly conservative likely 2016 presidential contender. 

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Trending 2015: Making (up) the news

Posted By on Tue, Dec 30, 2014 at 12:08 PM


As people who do news, we are often asked to speculate on what might happen in the future. For your convenience, we have assembled the following list of predictions for the biggest stories going into the New Year, save for the ones we couldn’t joke about.

Fed up with a stubborn St. Petersburg City Council that won’t give them money do whatever they want, the Tampa Bay Rays opt for a stadium site in a friendly neighboring nation: Cuba.

1990s nostalgia kicks in after the Rays leave, making the Trop look so retro-chic that the Cubs ditch Wrigley and move to St. Pete, Maddon and all.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi does something her handlers warned her against: she Googles “gay marriage.” She realizes that she’s been leading a lengthy court battle against what she thought was a type of cocktail that gave her a killer hangover during what was supposed to be a honeymoon in the Caymans, and finally decides to give it a rest.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Year in Lists: 7 Stories That Refused To Die In 2014 No Matter How Much We Wanted Them To!

Posted By on Tue, Dec 23, 2014 at 1:42 PM

UNLUCKY 13: Candidates Sink, Overby and Jolly in a debate during the endless CD-13 race. - KEVIN TIGHE
  • Kevin Tighe
  • UNLUCKY 13: Candidates Sink, Overby and Jolly in a debate during the endless CD-13 race.

Not all news stories, particularly the complicated ones, can be wrapped up in a couple of sound bites. But some stories, either because of lengthy legal processes, political posturing or private obsessions, drag on and on.

Here are the worst offenders — news stories in 2014 that stuck around well beyond their expiration date.

1. Will Jeb/Won’t Jeb?

Just as Christmas comes earlier every year, speculation on prospective presidential candidates begins earlier each election cycle.

“Election seasons overlap,” says USF Political Science Professor Susan MacManus. “You can’t even finish one before you talk about the next one.”

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Year-end lists: 8 things those listicles got wrong about us

Posted By on Tue, Dec 23, 2014 at 12:13 PM

It happens every three months or so. Someone on your Facebook or Twitter feed shares a link to a list attempting to define you and your city. Some of the lists are pretty accurate, others are way off, and most of them we’ve come across in the past year or so (it’s impossible to resist clicking) contain at least one blatant mischaracterization of Tampa or St. Pete.

For instance:

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Books Issue: What's influencing Tampa Bay's influencers

Posted By on Thu, Dec 18, 2014 at 1:46 AM

Writers write for different reasons. Some aim for the big bucks, Grisham-style, but others simply have something they’re compelled to say, a message they have to send, a lesson they need to teach. The latter isn’t always the most lucrative option, but authors like Kurt Vonnegut, Mark Twain, Aldous Huxley and even (sigh) Ayn Rand made careers via that route, and in the process influenced millions.

So we got to wondering: Which books have had the biggest influence on Tampa Bay’s own influencers? Which books have particular resonance in the current social/political/what-have-you climate? And what are these folks reading — or e-Reading — right now? Here are their answers, submitted via email.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Law requiring conservative "agit-prop" documentary in schools strengthens

Posted By on Thu, Dec 11, 2014 at 9:24 PM

A bill requiring every 8th and 11th grader in the state to watch a controversial conservative documentary the group Media Matters for America called "racially-charged agit-prop" just got a boost.

Earlier this week, Lakeland area State Rep. Neil Combee sponsored a House version of a law Umatilla area State Senator Alan Hays originally proposed in the State Senate last month.

"A lot of young people in our schools and colleges are taught a kind of negative story about America — we're the 'bad' guy. This film is intended to counter that and give people a reason to love America," Hays said last summer.

A sponsor in both chambers means the bill could have some traction.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

New shoes: A few words from News & Politics Editor Kate Bradshaw

Posted By on Tue, Dec 2, 2014 at 1:24 PM

A couple years back, the folks at CL did me a solid.

It was during the 2012 RNC. I was freelancing at the time, and they'd asked me to help cover the convention.

Among the ancillary events, a documentary about child hunger was screening at Channelside, narrated by none other than Jeff Bridges.

I'm a huge Big Lebowski fan, one of those geeks who can quote it practically verbatim. So when word got out that ol' Duder himself would be introducing the film in person, CL Editor David Warner let me cover it.

I sat in one of the theater's front rows next to a CL photographer. When the Dude walked in, the photog got up to snap photos, leaving an empty seat next to moi. Awaiting his introduction, Bridges sat down in said seat.

Of course, I didn't say anything to him. They were talking about child hunger, so it would have been inappropriate to lean over and say, "8-year-olds, Dude."' Plus I was nervous as hell.

But a Paper of Record did run some photos of the Dude sitting next to me, and they looked pretty cool.

So I owe my almost having met Jeff Bridges to CL.

In return, I've decided to give this alt-newsweekly my all as news and politics editor.

Kidding aside, this is an amazing opportunity, an honor I take very seriously.

Many people, upon hearing that an obscure reporter from the Tampa Tribune's obscure (and now defunct)* St. Petersburg bureau is taking over for uber-news-mensch Mitch Perry, will talk about shoes. Mitch is a longtime mentor of mine, whom I consider a good friend. His shoes are big, people will point out, and it will be hard for me to fill them.
Now if you'll excuse me, the bunny shoes and I have some reportin' to do. - MODCLOTH.COM
  • Now if you'll excuse me, the bunny shoes and I have some reportin' to do.

The thing is, I don't aim to fill his shoes. They're not my style. Plus, he's now wearing them over at SaintPetersBlog. My shoes are quirkier – I typically like something in a colorful wedge. 
That means my take on local, state, and sometimes national news and politics will be different.

For one, I have tons of pent-up satirical energy from having played it straight for too long.

I do have some years in the alternative press under my belt, namely with Maui Time Weekly, where I worked after getting my master's from USF-St. Pete, and WMNF radio, where as a staff reporter I churned out tons of relatively straight-faced news reports for a spell. But for the last couple years I've been paying my dues at a serious daily.

As a general assignment reporter at the Trib, I covered nearly everything: politics, crime, the occasional sea turtle release. It was fun, and my coworkers and editors were an absolute joy to work with, but sometimes I had to write about bullshit even when I knew it was, well, bullshit (mostly when covering politics; not you, sea turtles).

But now, when an elected governing body that has a direct impact on our day-to-day lives seems to be little more than an expensive club for rich boys, I can say so. Or if some candidate reminds me more of Francis from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure than a future statesman, or when a local zillionaire plans to mow down one of our defining landmarks and put a Dunkin' Donuts or something in its place, I can tell it like it is.

One may ask, "Kate, why would you leave a perfectly normal reporting gig with a perfectly respectable paper to write like a total weirdo for a not-normal paper, thus compromising possible future mainstream reporting opportunities?”

Well, that's my secret. There are no future mainstream reporting opportunities (see: this most recent round of layoffs). Not for me, anyway.

Of course, some may say I'm revealing 'bias" or "attitude" or whatever, in which case I would ask him or her to go to the computer, fire up Internet Explorer or Netscape with a definitely dial-up connection, go to the Google, and type in “alternative weekly.” Oh, and don't forget to press “return.”

Given the current state of affairs, I obviously have some ground to cover when it comes to calling bullshit. I'll be watching issues unfold, updating you when necessary, and offering jokes as needed.

Among topics I'll be keeping an eye on is that Duke Energy controversy: you know, charging customers for the nuke plant that will never get built, etc. Leading up to the midterm elections, some State House and Senate candidates made some substantive promises (for politicians). I'll let you know if they actually make good during session. 

There's also the state's perplexing failure to take renewable energy seriously on any level despite its obvious environmental and economic benefits.

The list of ways in which our state's rigged political culture is holding us back is a long one.

But politics, as simultaneously hilarious and depressing as it may be, is just part of the equation. I want to write stories about what makes this place so interesting to inhabit: the people at the forefront of helping Tampa Bay (and Florida as a whole) be all it can be.

That could mean talking to people who are fighting against the odds to make their communities better. It could mean looking into systemic injustice, or simply exploring why things like urban goats and youth hostels aren't as prevalent as they are in other cities. Oh, and transit, but that's now a political issue for some reason (teabaggers).

The way we deliver those stories online and in print is fluid. We may tweak the current format a little as we go, in print and online — yes, that may mean occasional (gasp) listicles, maybe even (gasp again) infographics when appropriate (but no clickbait; that is my promise to you).

Of course, some stories and blog posts will be more serious than others; it just depends on what the situation warrants. I'm very respectful, I promise, unless you're trying to screw over my neighbors or my generation (you've probably counted the number of times I use “I” and deduced that I am a Millennial).

Regardless of how we present our product, though, expect the same in-depth coverage as you did before, fortified occasionally with smartassery and the occasional f-bomb.

The most important player in all of this is you. I want you to be involved, to reach out with any ideas, observations, or insights you have that I, not being omniscient, don't. I'm already connected with many of you through social media, and all of you are welcome to email me at or call me at 813-739-4805. With your input and involvement, I bet I can break in these new shoes, and maybe one day muster the guts to speak up the next time a CL assignment lands me in a spot next to El Duderino.

*An earlier version of this story described the Tampa Tribune's St. Petersburg bureau as defunct, which isn't entirely accurate. While the paper's Pinellas County staffers are vacating their physical downtown St. Petersburg office, a few Pinellas-based writers remain, and they are doggedly covering events and issues throughout the county with great zeal. 

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Mixed signals: WMNF's search for new listeners and continued relevance

Posted By on Thu, Sep 4, 2014 at 1:05 AM

WMNF moved into its new building in 2005. - CHIP WEINER
  • Chip Weiner
  • WMNF moved into its new building in 2005.

Tampa’s great radio experiment, WMNF 88.5 FM, is 35 years old, and its age is beginning to show.

Once the only game in town for news, talk and music outside the mainstream, WMNF now finds itself just one of a multitude of media options vying for listeners.

Previously housed in a series of cramped, makeshift quarters, WMNF now broadcasts from a large, modern facility, with a large, modern mortgage to match.

Perhaps most troubling, its commitment to diversity, to providing a forum for minority voices, is being questioned.

“I still think it’s viable,” said Ray “Rayzilla” Villadonga, a longtime WMNF programmer. “Trying to keep it viable and surviving is really the dilemma.”

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