Smart Talk

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.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

Smart Talk: How did Lititz become the coolest town in America?; Statewide project focuses on cities

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Jan 20, 2014 4:16 PM

What to look for on Smart Talk Tuesday, January 21, 2014:

Philly skyline 300 x 120.jpg

Photo by Scott LaMar/witf

The Philadelphia skyline from the sports complex

Many of Pennsylvania's cities and boroughs are struggling -- especially financially.  Two out of every five Pennsylvanians live in a city or town that has been declared financially distressed.  Pension obligations are a huge burden for most of them.

An aging infrastructure often results in broken water mains or sewage and water backups when there's more rain than usual.

Poverty, crime and low-performing schools also present challenges.

How did the state's cities and towns get this way?  The better question is what can be done about it to help them make a comeback?

Keystone Crossroads is a Local Journalism Center that focuses on the state's cities  It is made up of five public media services including witf .  Multimedia news director Tim Lambert appears on Tuesday's Smart Talk to explain Keystone Crossroads and get your input on the urban stories you would like to hear.

One place that is not struggling is Lititz in Lancaster County.  Named the Coolest Town in America by Budget Travel magazine last year, Lititz is home to a thriving downtown that is filled with quaint shops, restaurants, and other attractions.

Kelly Withum, the director of Lititz' Main Street Program joins us to describe how Lititz became so cool. 

Watch a video of Lititz here.


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  • Stephen Hamm img 2014-01-21 09:15

    We wouldn't want to live within walking distance of Wilbur's

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-01-21 09:24

    Mike from Lititz emails:

    Kelly is giving credit to Lititz where credit is due—the Downtown Investment District composed of many local businessmen! They had planning vision and foresight to preserve and promote the downtown.
    And the pride in downtown flows through to the rest of the surrounding area including the Warwick School District composed of Lititz Boro, Warwick Township and Elizabeth Township!

    Proudly a lifetime 17543 zip code and Lititz resident!

  • Meredith Wilterdink img 2014-01-21 09:24

    Aaron's Books is NOT the only independent bookstore in Lancaster County! Dogstar Books and Winding Way Books in Lancaster City are two more independent bookstores. Also, Central Market in Lancaster City is open year round. Lititz does well because they still have a tax base with four large companies that manufacture things and employ folks withen city limits.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-01-21 09:32

    A listener emails:

    Required inspections of all rental properties, that not only address the condition but how many are living there.
    If a rental property has a child, there should be a tuition added.
    A civic sense ie-parades,annual events that involve all residents to either observe or participate, issues such as a large idle teen age population, having a center and parents to keep them involved.
    Parents that sense problems(drugs, erratic behavior)and act on them before it spreads.
    Monetarily charging those guilty of a crime for the time a police officer was involved.
    Today's parents treat their kids like cats, open the door and let them out.
    Of course success is a combination of the right kind of people at the right time realizing what they have.
    Myself personally I'd love to live in an area where there were no big box retailers of any type.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-01-21 09:35

    Paul in Lancaster emails:
    There's a fair amount of people living in poverty in Lititz too. Your perspective on that?
    And a possible follow-up Q if her response to that very open Q is not going well:
    Are you doing anything to improve the lives of poorer residents of Lititz?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-01-21 09:44

    Bill in Lancaster emails:
    Can you please ask your guest about what measures they are taking to increase the cultural diversity in the area? I agree that Lititz is a nice place to visit, however, I find it hard say 'coolest in America' without a little more diversity.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2014-01-21 09:51

    Alicia in Lebanon emails:


    I live in Lebanon, which if you are familiar, has a lot of issues and blight. Do you have any specific advice?

    Thank you!

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