Talk Show Production

I moved to Atlanta in August of 2019 to begin working as a producer for Georgia Public Broadcasting's On Second Thought. Over the course of my year on the show, I helped transition the show from daily to weekly production and covered a variety of topics including social justice, health and science, film and music, and cultural inclusivity. Here are some selected clips and highlights of my work.

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Credit: Courtesy of I Run With Maud

In the weeks since protests against police brutality began in Minneapolis, calls to reform, defund or abolish the police have been escalating. Demands for reform or cuts to police budgets aren’t new among activists, but a pledge by the Minneapolis City Council to "dismantle" the police department is unprecedented. The mayors of Los Angeles and New York City  have also announced that they would both divert city funds from police departments to social service budgets.

Practically speaking, what would it mean to “defund” the police? On Second Thought sat down with Cedric Alexander, former police chief of DeKalb County, and Michael Leo Owens, associate professor of political science at Emory University, to dissect the history and meaning behind the language of the protest movement.

The last 35 seconds of Ahmaud Arbery’s life have been viewed, studied, dissected and discussed all over the world. That’s because of a video that went viral, showing his final moments before he was shot on a shady street in Satilla Shores, Georgia on February 23.

And while his death has made international headlines, the people of his community remember Arbery for how he lived. His mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones joined On Second Thought – along with Arbery’s close friends Akeem Baker and Demetris Frazier and his former football coach Jason Vaughn – to reflect on Ahmaud Arbery's life and death, and the injustices that followed. Jim Barger Jr., who wrote an article for The Bitter Southerner about the history and response of the community, also joined the conversation.

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Credit: AP Photo / Ragan Clark

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In addition to changing many aspects of our waking lives, coronavirus has also shifted how we dream. Institutions around the world have been collecting examples of dreams since the outset of the pandemic, and some researchers found a  35% increase in dream recall since lockdown.

On Second Thought sat down with Harvard University Assistant Professor Deirdre Barrett to learn more about the impact of COVID-19 on our dreaming minds. Barrett has analyzed dreams of World War II soldiers, 9/11 first responders, and Kuwaitis under Iraqi occupation. Since March, she’s collected details on more than 7,000 dreams to study how people are responding to coronavirus in their dreams.

Credit: Pexels / Obelensky

While protests set off by the killing of George Floyd show no signs of letting up, another quieter protest has been stirring at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Irwin County, Georgia. There, a group of detainees staged a hunger strike and protest over video chat to raise the alarm over a lack of precautions against the spread of COVID-19 inside the detention center.

Seth Freed Wessler, investigative reporter for Type Investigations, had been speaking with a few of the detainees at the facility for months, and checked back in during the outbreak. 

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Credit: Photo illustration by Josh Begley

La Choloteca is not just any dance party. What began as a simple idea between friends in late 2016 has grown into a monthly gathering spot for Georgia's Latinx community.

The "party with a mission" aims to create a safe and inclusive space for all identities who want to jam out to Latin tracks. It takes place monthly. 

Credit: Pria Mahadevan

Nielsen report from 2018 shows that black women and men spend disproportionately more on beauty products than other demographic groups. And with Hair Love winning best animated short at this year’s Oscars, the conversation around black hair — and standards of beauty within the black community — continues to evolve. 

While the mainstream hair and beauty industry has not always been there to meet demand, black innovators and entrepreneurs have frequently taken it upon themselves to develop their own solutions. On Second Thought sat down with three people working to bring both awareness and new offerings to the cultural conversation on beauty standards in the black community.

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Credit: Alex Harris

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While the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Sandra Bland galvanized the #BlackLivesMatter movement, the killings of Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery have forced America to reckon with centuries of racial injustice and police brutality in unprecedented ways.

Not only have protests demanding change been widespread, but major corporations — which, until now, have been largely silent and hesitant to embrace Black Lives Matter — are pledging to fight racial injustice and declaring their support of the nearly seven-year-old movement.

Credit: AP Photo / Andrew Harnick

For generations, “The Talk” has been a mainstay in African American families. At some point, Black children all get warnings from elders about how to avoid – and survive – police encounters. It’s a rite that cuts across region, socioeconomic status and profession – even for members of law enforcement.

On Second Thought spoke with four men about how they remember “The Talk,” and how they’ve navigated passing those lessons along to the next generation.

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Credit: Photo collage by Pria Mahadevan

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This back-to-school season is unlike any other in history. COVID-19 has put government and education leaders at odds in Georgia and across the country over whether in-person, virtual, or some hybrid of the two is the best and safest choice for educating students this coming school year. While this urgent debate has been settled in many districts, the resulting anxiety and confusion for students, parents and administrators compounds months of disruption, isolation and insecurity.

Even before the pandemic, access to mental health care and resources for youth was a concern in Georgia, which ranks as 47th out of 50 states for access to mental health care and resources for the general population. But as the pandemic compounds stressors, pushing well-being to the limit over the last five months, providers predict things will get worse as students transition back to school. 

Credit: AP Photo / Jessica Hill

For one couple living in Alpharetta, Valentine's Day roughly coincides with their wedding anniversary — and a marriage arranged by their parents. Some might hear a story of arranged marriage and assume that love plays a secondary role, but Anitha and Subbu would disagree.

The couple agreed to pull back the curtain on their union and share what their contemporary arranged marriage looks like for On Second Thought.

Credit: Courtesy of Anitha and Subbu

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When Luma Mufleh moved from Jordan to the United States in 1994 to attend Smith College, she didn’t imagine she’d ever be running a full-fledged school for refugees. But today, she’s founder of Fugees Academy in Clarkston, a school specifically tailored for the refugee population that uses soccer and a unique curriculum to help students adjust to life in the United States.

It has a 100% graduation and college acceptance rate, and it was recently named the “Nicest Place in Georgia” for 2019 by Reader’s Digest. Mufleh joined On Second Thought to discuss her journey building educational opportunities for refugee children.

Credit: Courtesy of The Fugees Academy

People struggling with treatment-resistant PTSD may soon have a new course of care: MDMA. When used alongside psychotherapy, the synthetic substance in the drug more commonly known as ecstasy or molly is currently in phase three clinical trials. It’s even been given “breakthrough designation” by the FDA, a status reserved for treatments with significant potential to improve patient outcomes.

But MDMA isn’t the only kind of party drug experiencing interest for therapeutic potential. Psilocybin, the active ingredient in "magic mushrooms", is being evaluated for its potential in alleviating depression. Guided ayahuasca trips are a growing trend, especially amongst Brooklyn and Silicon Valley elites.

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Credit: Pexels / Konstantin Lazorkin

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Social distancing has become the new normal. With borders closing, shelter-in-place orders in California, lockdowns in Europe, and the Trump administration's guidelines to limit gatherings, millions of Americans are shuttering indoors — and spending a lot of time in front of a screen.

And the memes have flourished. Much of the online response has focused on major themes of the current crisis, like the importance of cleaning and hygiene, the scarcity of hand sanitizer and toilet paper, what it's like working from home, and how boring quarantine can be

Credit: Photo collage by Emilia Brock

There are more than two million people incarcerated in the United States. Over two-thirds of them lack a high school diploma, and less than 13% have attended college. But where nearly half of all formerly incarcerated people return to prison within three years, the students working towards associates and bachelor's degrees through the Bard Prison Initiative, or BPI, have a recidivism rate of just 4%.

A new PBS documentary series called College Behind Bars spent four years following student inmates pursuing an education through BPI.  The program is run by Bard College in prisons across New York State, and it aims to be as rigorous as other colleges and universities.

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Credit: Skiff Films

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In her new memoir, Samantha Power writes about the “X test.” As she describes it, “in trying for Y, the most I accomplish is X.” In other words, even if “Y” is likely to fail, what “X” can be learned along the way?

 

Power has experienced some of those failures and made some bold moves in her life. Some weren’t up to her, like moving from Ireland to the U.S. at the age of 9. As a young adult, she jumped into the fray as a reporter during The Balkan Wars, later writing a Pulitzer Prize-winning book that took the American government to task for failing to stop genocides around the world. She would later become Ambassador to the U.N. under President Obama. Her new book, The Education of an Idealist, is a personal, unguarded account of her evolution from critical outsider to administration insider.

Credit: Courtesy of Harper Collins

As 2019 drew to a close, protests spilled into cities from Hong Kong to Santiago, Paris to Tehran, and Khartoum to La Paz. People around the world flocked to the streets, often with handmade signs, addressing their objections to policy changes, power grabs and cutbacks.

The power of images to communicate disagreement is the subject of an exhibition now on view at the Museum of Design Atlanta  (MODA). "The Design of Dissent" is based on a book of the same title, co-authored by two of the most prominent names in the world of design — Milton Glaser and Mirko Ilic.

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Credit (L to R): Occupy Wall Street by Will Brown; Isra Chaker from the We the Future Series; Welcome by Donal Thornton and Tresor Dieudonne.

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From Vincent Van Gogh to Charli XCX, many accomplished artists are thought to have synesthesia, or the blending of two or more senses. Atlanta-based sensory artist Siana Altiise also has synesthesia, and she feels compelled to use her unique perspective to create musical experiences meant to relax people.

Siana joined On Second Thought to share how she builds her meditative tracks based on both the psychology of attention and her personal experiences with synesthesia. 

Credit: Mario Chui

Beyoncé...Cher...Elvis...and Googoosh. She's the Iranian pop star that carries as much weight in the Middle East as some of those other famous artists do here in the United States.

For those connected to the Iranian diaspora, Googoosh is a household name. She consistently draws massive crowds of Iranian expatriates to her concerts. She performed in Atlanta on Saturday, Aug. 24 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.

Credit: Wikimedia / Public Domain