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: Cities reinventing themselves; 150th anniversary of Grand Review

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Nov 11, 2015 9:00 AM
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The Hotel Switzerland in Jim Thorpe/Photo by WITF's Scott LaMar

What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, November 11, 2015:

Revitalizing their downtowns has been the focus of many Pennsylvania cities for the past 20 years.  It is one way to reinvent themselves but not the only way.  

Pennsylvania's natural resources and rivers made the state a hub of industries.  Steel, timber and coal are all legacies of cities like Pittsburgh and Williamsport and a small town like Jim Thorpe.   People moved to these areas because they could get above-average paying jobs and provide good lives for their families.

But competition and other factors wounded those industries in Pennsylvania.  Most of the steel and lumber mills were shut down and the mines weren't producing as much coal.

If the cities were to survive, they had to reinvent themselves.

Keystone Crossroads: Changing Spaces is a TV program that documents how several cities have done just that.  The show will air on WITF-TV Thursday night at 8.

Producer Diana Robinson and Dr. Allen Dietrich-Ward, a history professor at Shippensburg University, appear on Wednesday's Smart Talk to tell the stories.

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Diana Robinson & Dr. Allen Dietrich-Ward

One-hundred-fifty-years-ago this weekend, U.S. Colored Troops, who had fought in the Civil War, marched in Harrisburg.  Their white counterparts were part of a parade in Washington D.C. seven months earlier.  Friday through Sunday this week, the Grand Review will be commemorated -- highlighted by another parade of African-American re-enactors Saturday morning.

Two renowned historians -- Lenwood Sloan and Barbara Barksdale -- join us on Smart Talk.

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Barbara Barksdale & Lenwood Sloan

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  • Lisa img 2015-11-11 09:49

    Your guests mentioned that cities needed something to unify the past with the future going forward. For Pittsburgh I don't think you can underestimate the ability of the sports teams to do that. The Steelers name glorifies the industrial past and it is special that all 3 major professional sports teams use the same colors. Black and gold is the color of Pittsburgh and that unifies the entire region in the way that the steel industry used to. Having grown up in the area, I still think it is weird that the Philadelphia teams all have different colors.

    • Allen Dieterich-Ward img 2015-11-11 17:19

      Lisa, That's a great observation. My friend Aaron Cowan at Slippery Rock University has a book due out with Temple University Press in the next year or two that will talk about this issue in the context of Three Rivers Stadium in the 1970s (you can actually download his dissertation for free if you do a Google search; take a look at chapter 4). The city's "Steel City" identity was so closely associated with the Steelers that in the 1980s one development official infamously joked that the team should consider a name change to the "Pittsburgh Softwares" in order to emphasize the new high-tech economy. You can imagine how well that went over!

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2015-11-11 10:07

    Rick in Harrisburg emails:

    I’m listening to the discussion about the USCT. It needs to be emphasized that most of the black troops were drawn from the recently escaped former slaves. See below:


    And by war’s end, a total of 178,975 African-Americans were organized into 133 infantry regiments, 4 independent companies, 7 cavalry regiments, 12 regiments of heavy artillery and 10 companies of light artillery. The northern free states produced 37,723 recruits, with Pennsylvania (8,612), Ohio (5,092), and New York (4,125) leading the way. Kentucky supplied 57 percent of the 41,719 recruits from the Union slave states. And Louisiana (24,052), Tennessee (20,133) and Mississippi (17,869) supplied more than two-thirds of the 93,542 USCT recruits from the Confederate slave states.