Commentaries

If you're a regular listener to NPR news programs, you're probably familiar with the occasional brief commentary during the morning or evening news programs by experts in various fields; people providing insight into public affairs, observations on the arts, and thoughts on how we live. This page contains transcripts and/or audio recordings of local commentaries that have aired on WYSU.


Prison, America's 'new asylums'

Published: Jun 19, 2014
Commentator: Matthew T. Mangino
Transcript:

Prisons, America’s ‘new asylums’

A new report by the Treatment Advocacy Center, a nonprofit dedicated to the treatment of the mentally ill, found that the number of individuals with serious mental illness in prisons and jails now exceeds the number in state psychiatric hospitals by a factor of ten.
In 2012, there were more than 356,000 inmates with severe mental illness in prisons and jails nationwide. There were only 35,000 mentally ill individuals in state psychiatric hospitals.

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The Cost of Higher Education

Published: Mar 27, 2014
Commentator: Tom Shipka
Transcript:

Let’s begin with a question. Which of the following rose in cost the most over the past thirty years: housing, medical care, or higher education? The correct answer is higher education. (1) Over this period, housing went up 375%, medical care 600%, and higher education an astonishing 1,120%. (2) At the same time, financial aid provided by the federal government and institutions of higher education also shot up but so did “net cost,” that is, what students and their families must pay after grants, scholarships, and tax credits are subtracted. (3)

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World Water Day

Published: Mar 20, 2014
Commentator: Nancy Beeghly
Transcript:

Never before has the flush of a toilet sounded so lovely. Like the burbling brook after weeks of drought, running water is a welcome gift on the first evening of the New Year.

No water? A voice at the other end of the line told us repairmen were working overtime to fix the problem but they didn’t know how long it would take. My heart went out to the crews repairing the line in the bitter cold on a holiday.

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Ted Williams

Published: Feb 21, 2014
Commentator: Tom Shipka
Transcript:

Who is the greatest hitter in the history of professional baseball? My nominee is Ted Williams. Let’s take a look at his career and his life. 

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Fracking

Published: Feb 7, 2014
Commentator: Judy Vershum
Transcript:

I find it disturbing that people who rely on the Meander Reservoir for their drinking water aren’t outraged by ODNR’s permitting of frack wells in our protected watershed. I suppose it is possible that they don’t know where their water comes from. Heads up, people of Canfield, Boardman, Austintown, Youngstown, Niles, Jackson Township etc. It’s more likely that they drank the industry and ODNR Kool-Aid, and believe that unconventional shale gas hydro fracking is safe—it is not. They no doubt believe there are plenty of regulations in place that will protect them.

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The Odd Couple

Published: Jan 31, 2014
Commentator: Tom Shipka
Transcript:

In 2006, Jim Henderson, a Christian minister, (1) turned to an unusual source for help with his project to improve churches. He outbid more than a dozen competitors in an eBay auction in which Hemant Mehta, a self-described “friendly atheist,” offered to attend churches and evaluate their services and programs. Thus was born a religious version of the odd couple. (2)

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The Care and Feeding of the Brain

Published: Jan 1, 2014
Commentator: Tom Shipka
Transcript:

The human brain, which weighs only three-pounds, is on duty round the clock whether we're awake or asleep, conscious or unconscious. Electrical and chemical messages fly around it constantly. It regulates all the other organs in our body and makes possible every action that we perform.

Fortunately, there are steps that we can take to make and keep our brain fit. In fact, as science writer Guy P. Harrison points out in his new book entitled Think, they are the same steps that benefit our overall health. (1) According to Harrison, here is what we should do for our brain:

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Winter Solstice

Published: Dec 20, 2013
Commentator: Tess Tessier
Transcript:

For many thousands of years, human beings in this hemisphere have acknowledged, through prayer and ritual, the sacred power of this season—the power of the long dark and the first glimmer of light’s increase. There is something about this time of year. These are the halcyon days, around the time of the winter solstice, named after the great bird of folklore who built her nest on the surface of the ocean and was able to quiet the winds while her eggs were hatching.

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Religion and the Founders

Published: Dec 19, 2013
Commentator: Tom Shipka
Transcript:

In popular culture there are two sharply contrasting views about religion and the founding fathers. One is that the founders were devout Christians who read the Bible and prayed daily. The other is that they were products of the Enlightenment who abandoned religion for reason and science. So, which view is accurate? Neither! If we could take a snapshot of religion in the colonies in 1770, here is what we would find:

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Jennifer Hecht on Suicide

Published: Dec 5, 2013
Commentator: Tom Shipka
Transcript:

In the United States over the past decade, the rate of suicide has risen sharply. Although it rose among all age groups during this period, it shot up dramatically in two groups:

  • in the 35-64 age group, suicide increased 30 percent, and
  • among men in their fifties, it increased 50 percent.

Today, suicide deaths per year (38,364) exceed deaths per year due to auto accidents (33,687). (1)

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