Smart Talk

Radio Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Radio Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Hosted by: Scott LaMar

TV Smart Talk: From politics to economy, from health care to the environment, WITF's TV Smart Talk covers the issues and ideas that matter to you. It's never been easier to discover and share the news and information of your world and ours.

Hosted by: Nell McCormack Abom

  • More HIV testing encouraged on World AIDS Day

    Written by Scott LaMar, Director of Radio Smart Talk

    More HIV testing encouraged on World AIDS Day

    Radio Smart Talk for Thursday, December 1:

    December 1st is World AIDS Day.  It is a time to raise awareness to what is described as a global epidemic, to support the millions that are living with HIV/AIDS and remember the millions more who have died.

    On Thursday's Radio Smart Talk, we'll get an update on the HIV/AIDS trends in the midstate and hear about a new law that will result in more Pennsylvanians getting tested for the virus.

    Since the HIV virus was first detected in June 1981, some 60 million people have contracted the HIV virus.  About 33 million are still living with it and 25 million have died.  In the U.S. 1.1 million are living with HIV/AIDS and 600 thousand have perished.

    Most of the new cases result from men having sex with men, but heteorsexuals and intravenous drug users are still becoming at a high rate as well.

    Will more testing result in less risky behaviors and then fewer HIV/AIDS cases?  Find out on Thursday's program.

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    Published in Smart Talk

    Tagged under Radio

    Wednesday, 30 Nov 2011 20:05

  • Cancer survivors tell their inspiring stories

    Written by Scott LaMar, Director of Radio Smart Talk

    Cancer survivors tell their inspiring stories

    Radio Smart Talk for Wednesday, November 30:

    If you go to witf's Facing Cancer Together web page, you'll see the words, "Connecting Stories, Connecting Lives" right after the title.  What we've learned since the initiative began last Spring is those diagnosed with cancer battle through their treatments and the changes in their lives with support from family, friends and the doctors and nurses who treat them.  Making connections is a large part of that support.

    Every cancer survivor we've met talks about the people they've gotten to know who helped them or inspired them to survive and beat the disease or to get back to a normal way of life.

    Often, a survivor's experience motivated them to help others being treated for cancer.  On Wednesday's Radio Smart Talk, we'll meet two women who did just that -- they survived cancer and now they are there for others.   


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    Published in Smart Talk

    Tagged under Facing Cancer Together, Radio

    Tuesday, 29 Nov 2011 19:51

  • Education in the lives of presidents and First Ladies

    Written by Scott LaMar, Director of Radio Smart Talk

    Education in the lives of presidents and First Ladies

    Radio Smart Talk for Tuesday, November 29:

    President Woodrow Wilson had what appears to have been a severe learning disability and couldn't read until he became an adult.  However, Wilson went to become a teacher and the president of Princeton University.  Abraham Lincoln's first and last public speeches centered on education.  His final speech advocated for free public education for all students -- whether they were white or black.  Lincoln's assassin John Wilkes Booth heard about Lincoln's speech and killed the president four days later.  First Lady Lady Bird Johnson would have been Valedictorian of her high school class, but sabotaged her own grades because she was afraid to speak at her graduation.  Mrs. Johnson became the pioneer of the Head Start program for pre-school children.

    Those are a few of the stories taken from the new book, From Classroom to the White House: Presidents and First Ladies as Students and Teachers.  The book's author, Dr. James Longo, will join us on Tuesday's Radio Smart Talk to describe the role of education in the lives of those who have occupied the White House.

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    Published in Smart Talk

    Tagged under Radio

    Monday, 28 Nov 2011 21:03

  • State Capitol insight

    Written by Scott LaMar, Director of Radio Smart Talk

    State Capitol insight

    Radio Smart Talk for Monday, November 28:

    Pennsylvania state lawmakers return to the capitol in Harrisburg next week with several key bills pending.  Before they do, we'll preview the issues legislators will be dealing with in the end-of-year session on Monday's Radio Smart Talk.  Joining us to provide some insight into the legislative session will be John Micek, who reports on state government for the Allentown Morning Call and witf''s Capitol Bureau Chief, Mary Wilson.

    Lawmakers will get 3% salary hikes soon.  It's an automatic pay increase tied to the cost-of-living.  The minimum salary will be more than $82,000 for rank-and-file House and Senate members. -- a 74% increase from 16 years ago.  There are a number of legislators who aren't accepting the raise or are donating them to charities.  Some are calling for a repeal of the law that provides for the automatic increases, considering state revenue collections are running below estimates after several years of extremely tight budgets.

    Other issues we'll discuss include whether a fee on natural gas drillers will be approved and if the General Assembly will vote to sell liquor stores.

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    Published in Smart Talk

    Tagged under Corbett, Radio, Reform

    Monday, 28 Nov 2011 01:13

  • Is PA's deer management plan working and why you should care

    Written by Scott LaMar, Director of Radio Smart Talk

    Is PA's deer management plan working and why you should care

    Radio Smart Talk for Wednesday, November 23:

    For thousands of Pennsylvanians, there is no bigger issue in the state than the number of deer roaming Penns Woods.  For non-hunters or those who live outside areas where deer hunting is king, that may be hard to believe.

    The former head of the Pennsylvania Game Commission's Deer Management Section once said that the deer population affected every man, woman, and child in the state.  That came at a time only a few years ago when the large deer herd was destroying forests, exacting large amounts of damage farmers' crops and resulting in some 40,000 vehicle-deer collisions a year.

    A decade and many angry complaints later, there are some hunters who claim their favorite pasttime has been stolen away from them -- that the Game Commission's science has killed off too many deer.  They often cite numbers that show the number of hunting licenses sold is in decline and say part of the reason is hunters are frustrated and have given up.  Much of their evidence is anecdotal -- they don't see near as many deer in the woods as they used to.  The Game Commission says that true but that the deer population is more in line with what the habitat can sustain.

    On Wednesday's Radio Smart Talk, the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Carl Roe, will discuss deer management and a few other issues.

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    Published in Smart Talk

    Tagged under Radio

    Tuesday, 22 Nov 2011 21:18

  • Who has the right-of-way and other highway legal questions

    Written by Scott LaMar, Director of Radio Smart Talk

    Who has the right-of-way and other highway legal questions

    Radio Smart Talk for Tuesday, November 22:

    Almost everyone listening to Radio Smart Talk drives a vehicle or at least did at one time. It's one of a handful of activities that we all have experienced. Because we spend so much time behind the wheel of a car or truck, we witness many scenarios on the roadways. Some may force us to ask ourselves, "Is it legal for the driver of that two-toned sedan to pass me on the right side?" Or, "There are two yield signs on this ramp, who has the right-of-way?"

    Tuesday's program is an opportunity for motorists to ask questions about what's right or wrong on the highways or at least what's lawful and what isn't. Our guests are Sgt. Anthony Manetta and Trooper Michele Davis of the Pennsylvania State Police.

    There are more travelers on the road during the five days around Thanksgiving so this is a good time to bone up on your Pennsylvania driving laws. Producing this program during Thanksgiving week has become a bit of a tradition itself and it is a popular show, so get your phone calls in early at 1-800-729-7532.

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    Published in Smart Talk

    Tagged under Radio

    Monday, 21 Nov 2011 20:59

  • NBC Correspondent and author Martin Fletcher

    Written by Scott LaMar, Director of Radio Smart Talk

    NBC Correspondent and author Martin Fletcher

    Radio Smart Talk for Monday, November 21:

    Five-time Emmy Award-winning journalist Martin Fletcher will join us on Monday's Radio Smart Talk to discuss his new book, The List.  Fletcher borrows from his family's past to tell the story of a Jewish couple struggling in post-war London.  The List paints a vivid picture of the hurdles Jews faced in Europe in finding jobs and housing and even having enough to eat.  Perhaps, the most painful challenge was locating relatives who may have survived the Holocaust or determining what happened to those who didn't.

    Fletcher is currently a Special Correspondent for NBC News after having served as NBC News Bureau Chief for years in Tel Aviv.   His previous books include Breaking News and Walking Israel.  He lives in Israel and New York.

    Fletcher will speak at Beth El Temple, 2637 Front Street in Harrisburg, Tuesday, November 22 at 7:30 p.m.

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    Published in Smart Talk

    Tagged under Radio

    Thursday, 17 Nov 2011 20:36

  • The Bakery Girls; Thanksgiving dinner tips and ideas

    Written by Scott LaMar, Director of Radio Smart Talk

    The Bakery Girls; Thanksgiving dinner tips and ideas

    Radio Smart Talk for Friday, November 18:

    Thanksgiving dinner is so traditional in some families that nothing changes -- same menu, served at the same time with the same family members sitting in the chairs they've sat in for 20 years. 

    Then there are those who seek out new elements to the traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  Usually, that translates into new holiday recipes or possibly desserts.

    On Friday's Radio Smart Talk, Chef Donna Marie Desfor joins us to share a few of her holiday ideas and recipes.  Thanksgiving and the holidays are great times to tell stories about your family's traditions and memories.  We want to hear yours as well.  Call 1-800-729-7532 to share your Thanksgiving traditions, stories or recipes.

    Also, author Florence Ditlow will be with us to discuss her first novel called The Bakery Girls.  It's the story of three sisters working in a Harrisburg bakery in the 1930s.  Ms. Ditlow paints a picture of a very different time and place that you'll find fascinating.

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    Published in Smart Talk

    Tagged under Radio

    Thursday, 17 Nov 2011 19:06

  • Pennsylvania's sentencing guidelines

    Written by Scott LaMar, Director of Radio Smart Talk

    Pennsylvania's sentencing guidelines

    Radio Smart Talk for Thursday, November 17:

    Pennsylvania has some 51,000 state prison inmates. -- about three thousand more than the number of beds available.  Prison overcrowding has gotten to the point where many are calling for alternative sentences for non-violent offenders.  Those convicted of drug-possession offenses and driving-under-the influence charges are most often mentioned as candidates for sentences other than incarceration.

    Even though Pennsylvania judges must consider sentencing guidelines, they do have flexibility when handing down a sentence.

    Judges also have other factors to consider when sentencing - aggravating and mitigating circumstances, the seriousness of a crime and criminal history.

    On Thursday's Radio Smart Talk, we'll discuss Pennsylvania's sentencing guidelines with Dauphin County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeannine Turgeon.

    What questions do you have about sentencing of criminals?

    See Pennsylvania's Basic Sentencing Matrix.

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    Published in Smart Talk

    Tagged under Radio

    Wednesday, 16 Nov 2011 20:59

  • Facing Cancer Together: Survivorship, TV Smart Talk

    Written by Nell McCormack Abom, Host Smart Talk TV

    Facing Cancer Together: Survivorship, TV Smart Talk

    Hearing the words, "you have cancer," is life altering.  Hearing the words, "You are a cancer survivor," is life affirming.  Join us on Smart Talk, tonight at 8, as we offer a special community forum on Facing Cancer Together.  We will explore what it means to survive a cancer diagnosis and how survivorship presents new challenges and opportunities to patients.  We'll take your phone calls at 1-800-729-7532, your emails at, or your comments on witf's Facebook.

    Our guests have spent their careers helping patients jump the hurdles of a cancer diagnosis.  The process that leads to survivorship is not easy and it does not always entail a return to optimal health.  Leslie Delp is the founder and bereavement specialist at Olivia's House: A Grief and Loss Center for Children in York.  Leslie had been in practice as a grief therapist for years and saw a need for a support program for children who were losing loved ones. 

    "There was no one supporting the children," Leslie recalls.  "A parent, a sibling, a grandparent, a teacher, a friend – Olivia's House is for any child who experiences the loss of someone they loved and they are grieving.  It's a program of education and bereavement counseling to help them.  They can come before the death, during the death, after the death.  We have had children who were infants when their parents died or their sibling died and they come for support years later.  Everyone's grief is a unique fingerprint."

    There is no cost to enroll in programs at Olivia's House which is supported by private donations, grant money and community fundraising events.

    "Children need to meet other children where they are emotionally.  It's very important for them to hear another child feeling what they're feeling so they realize they are not alone," Leslie explains.  "That's where the educational and peer-support program comes into play.  Educating them about their body and taking the mystery away from what's happening to my head and my heart and my body during this very natural process known as bereavement.  What does it mean when I learn my mommy has cancer because my body reacts to that?   Just educating them empowers them to feel in control. "

    Debra K. Witwer is a registered nurse navigator at PinnacleHealth-Fox Chase Regional Cancer Center.  She says a navigator is a relatively new position in cancer care.  It's designed to help "navigate patients over rough seas" in the "craziness of the health care system we work in today."  She takes patients from the point of diagnosis, through exams, tests, operations and recovery to create a continuum of care that ensures their survivorship is on the right path. 

    "You hear the word cancer and your mind goes blank," Witwer notes.  "How do you live knowing that you survived cancer?  Some people choose to live from CAT scan to CAT scan worrying is it going to come back.  And others choose to just incorporate those tests into their life and find a way to move on and live as normal a life as they can, but remembering that there's surveillance and there are tests and things that they need to do."

    Cancer is a lifelong journey.  Witwer explains, "People used to talk about hitting that five-year mark and saying, I'm cured.'  And that word remission is not used very much anymore in cancer care.  Remission is more for those things like leukemia and lymphoma, but truly many people live with cancer.  The American Cancer Society defines a survivor as anyone who is living with cancer.  That can be the day they were diagnosed.  That can be 30 years after they finished their treatment.  They are all survivors."

    Witwer directs our viewers to access the ACS's Cancer Survivor Plan, a booklet that encourages patients to write down in detail their journey through treatment by accurately charting their medications, tests, appointments – all aspects of their care. 

    "Patients don't ask enough questions," Witwer advises.  "You have to have a history of where you've come from, and then very importantly, how you move forward.  What's the plan for survivorship?  Patients have to take ownership of their care.  You should never walk out of doctor's office without knowing what the plan is."   Two essentials she recommends are the National Comprehensive Cancer Network's Ten Resolutions for Cancer Survivors and Ten Tips for Breast Cancer Survivors. 

    The Rev. Dr. Ted L. Trout-Landen is the director of Pastoral Care and Education at WellSpan Health in York.  "We have chaplains in all of our facilities who provide direct pastoral care to patients and families and staff as they deal with a health-care crisis," Rev. Trout-Landen says.  "You don't need to be religious to understand it or to receive it.  Pastoral care is when a trained professional chaplain works with a patient or family member to help them understand and define what helps them make meaning of the cancer and the crisis they are facing."

    Rev. Trout-Landen says a diagnosis of cancer marks a huge change in a person's life that can trigger intense feelings of loss and anger.  Helping patients cope with those feelings is at the heart of pastoral care.  "If you think about the last time you or someone in your family was in a crisis, many of the things we say and do and think and feel sort of get worked up from the floorboards of our life," he adds.  "We start asking a lot of questions:  Why is this happening to me?  What did I do to deserve this?  How is this fair? In none of those questions did you hear the word God or religion, but essentially all of those questions are theological or spiritual at their core because they have to do with how am I making meaning of this situation?"

    Often, Rev. Trout-Landen encourages patients to use the emotion of anger, and the energy it generates in their bodies, to produce positive actions like repairing a damaged relationship.  He'll share more of his insights on pastoral care tonight. 

    Our final guest is Dr. Elizabeth C. Horenkamp, managing physician of Hematology Oncology Medical Specialists, Lancaster General Health.  She also leads a survivorship program at LGH.

    We also recently brought together and taped a conversation among a group of cancer survivors who are in different stages of recovery.  They shared their reflections on the disease and the medical and emotional struggles they endured in overcoming it.  We will air highlights of their conversation.  They encompass survivors of brain, breast, endocrine, kidney, ovarian and prostate cancer.  One of those survivors, Joanne Cassaro, is a gifted graphic designer, artist, jewelry-maker and colleague at witf.  She overcame ovarian cancer.

    "Sitting down and talking to the other survivors about their cancers was truly the therapy that I so needed over the years. Long time coming for sure. They are some remarkable people who started the show as strangers and have now
    become friends. Different cancers but similar stories of hope, lessons learned and love for life," Joanne remarks.  "It's the silver linings that cancer brings to those diagnosed that can change a person for the better.  That's what happened to me over the past 11 years.  Ovarian cancer changed my life, leaving me unable to have children of my own.  So given that card - I made the choice to live life the way I always dreamed of.  No time for dreaming. Just doing what I have always wanted to do. Create -- the best therapy in the world for recovery and the depression that followed."

    Please join the conversation!  Call 1-800-729-7532, email, or post to witf's Facebook.


    Published in Smart Talk

    Tagged under Facing Cancer Together, TV

    Wednesday, 16 Nov 2011 00:07