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

He Speaks for the Dead / '1A' with Joshua Johnson

Written by Rich Copeland - Producer, Smart Talk | Dec 8, 2016 3:00 AM
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Graham Hetrick - Dauphin County Coroner

Human skeletal remains were recently found in the woods in Cumberland County.  The bones are estimated to be about two years old.  Now, the focus will be on identify the remains.

So what is the process?  Who will assign a life to this scattering of old bones?

Graham Hetrick has served as Dauphin County's coroner for 25 years, participated in 3,000 autopsies and certified more than 13,000 deaths.  He is an avid student of thanatology - the study of death and how passings impact people and society.  He lectures on grief counseling and hosts The Coroner: I Speak for the Dead on the Investigation Discovery channel.

Hetrick will join Thursday's Smart Talk to talk about identifying human remains and discuss the topic of death and why it is important to understand the process of dying.

Also, The Diane Rehm Show has been a fixture on public radio stations, including WITF, but when she retires at the end of this year, a new program will make its debut.  It's called 1A and will be hosted by Joshua Johnson.


Joshua Johnson - Host, 1A

He was the co-creator and host of Truth Be Told, a radio series about race in America, and spent five years as the morning host at KQED, San Francisco.  1A with Joshua Johnson will debut January 2nd and can be heard hear on WITF.

Smart Talk's Scott LaMar will speak with Johnson about the new show, the pressures of hosting a national program and what the future of news reporting will look like.


for Joshua Johnson:

-  The current media landscape has become poisonous with opinionated rhetoric. I am not a trump supporter, however this media acts as if they want trump to fail. How are you going to create a genuinely intelligent discourse?       - Tom

-  Will 1-A be less partisan that the biased pundits on the Diane Ream Show.  "Demystifying and debunking"may still be quite slanted. How will A-1 provide balance?     - John, Carsonville

- My wife and I are concerned that Public Radio speaks to much of the same areas of the country that voted for the Democratic Party. While you are speaking to more of the PEOPLE by doing this, you are not speaking to more of the COUNTRY. Look at our election map, Hillary won many more VOTES, but lost much more of the COUNTRY. How will 1A speak to the COUNTRY and not just the PEOPLE?                                                                        - Manuel, Carlisle

- You already touched on this a little bit but what does your guest think about the way in which the media is currently being portrayed by president elect Trump as dishonest, as well as the confusion that has been created regarding fake news.  How do you ensure being regarded as a trusted and unbiased news source with listeners?  Is the reputation of the media being eroded by this negative rhetoric?   - Mark

- How will 1A SPEAK to the country, not just AIR in various portions of the country. IE. Speaking about guns from an URBAN standpoint to RURAL areas frustrates those of us in RURAL areas.    - Manuel

- On numerous occasions, I have tried, calmly & peacefully to engage a Trump supporter by just asking a general question like:" Iget you don't like Hillary. Can you name me a fully investigated area, where she was pronounced guilty?"

Most of the time, I got either sound bites from Fox News , one time , I got :" well if you want to drink the coolaid, go ahead".

How do you answer these?                   - Elizabeth, Carlisle

- I think you guest got it almost right when he corrected your comment about public radio not being part of the elite. I think that the issue is that all of us as human beings process the environment around us based on our own assumptions and frames of reference. I offer an example of how this plays out.

Story 1 - The President Elect accepts a congratulatory phone call from the President of Taiwan. This is cast by the media as a foreign policy faux pas for failing to understand the One China Policy

Story 2 - An elder statesman Republican, Bob Dole, is reported to have facilitated the conversation as a member of a DC lobbying firm. The tenor of the article is about lobbyists meddling.

I didn't see any media commentary that put the two stories together and reflected on the unique opportunity of a President Elect to test a policy that has been in force for 40 years with much less risk than would be the case with a sitting President. In my opinion, the reason for this is that most of the media has made the assumption that Mr Trump is a buffoon who doesn't understand diplomacy.

We all need to guard against the tendency to view the outside world without being aware of our own inherent assumptions and biases. I hope 1A is able to do this.      - Bill


for Dauphin County Coroner Graham Hetrick:

- The local coroner in Franklin County does not support organ donation and actively works against it in the field.

Last year, a close relative hung himself. His driver's license states for organ donation, and his suicide note said for his organs to be donated. However, the local coroner would not facilitate getting the body to the hospital for harvesting on the ground that "we need to keep the body intact until a cause of death can be certified."

When the body is found hanging from a rope with a rafter, how hard is it to compute the "cause of death" and how can we "encourage" this coroner to improve his abysmal record?      - Manuel



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