Sean Powers

Producer/Reporter - On Second Thought

Sean Powers is a producer and reporter for "On Second Thought.” Powers is a native of the south suburbs of Chicago, and he graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Missouri.  In 2012, he completed a fellowship at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. He moved to Atlanta after working as a reporter for the public radio station in Urbana, Ill. His reporting has earned him about a dozen Associated Press awards, two regional Edward R. Murrow awards, five national PRNDI awards, a first place award for best use of sound from the Atlanta Press Club, and recognition from the Georgia Association of Broadcasters. After a long week of public radio, Powers enjoys live jazz and soul food. He also mentors teenage journalists who report for VOX Teen Communications, a magazine in Atlanta. In addition to his work at GPB, he also oversees the development of several podcasts for an audio book company in Atlanta called ListenUp Audiobooks.

Ways to Connect

If some of history's greatest artists could go back in time and redo their work, would they? Screenwriter Karen Hall has spent the last 20 years agonizing over her masterpiece novel, “Dark Debts,” first published in 1996. It’s the story of the devil tormenting a Georgia family and it was an instant success when it came out.

The Breakroom gang joins host Celeste Headlee to weigh in on the week's news. The panel includes Sam Burnham (Curator of the blog “All the Biscuits in Georgia”), Amy Condon (an editor for Savannah Magazine), Ken Edelstein (environmental blogger), and Soumaya Khalifa (Executive Director, Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta).


The second annual Atlanta Improv Festival kicks off this weekend. This festival includes an improv competition, workshops, and shows including the event’s headliner, Quartet. Quartet is a Chicago-based improv group featuring actor, comedian, and Georgia native Jack McBrayer. 

We revisit our conversation with McBrayer from back in April when he was in town for the Atlanta Film Festival. 

Sean Powers / On Second Thought

The history of Juneteenth goes like this: President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. But two years later, on June 19, 1865, slaves in Texas finally got the news that they were free. Juneteenth is this Sunday, but Atlanta's Oakland Cemetery celebrated a few days early this year.  Groups of all ages were invited to tour the cemetery's historic African-American gravesites last weekend.

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Look through the lens of photographer Walker Evans, and you'll find a poignant and poetic view of American life. Evans is considered one of the most influential American photographers of the 20th century. A new exhibit at Atlanta’s High Museum looks back at his 50-year career. We talked with the show’s curator, Brett Abbott and Atlanta-native Alex Harris, who studied photography under Evans.

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Our neighbor to the South suffered an unspeakable tragedy this weekend.  The massacre at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida is now on record as the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. The pain is felt here in Georgia and across the nation today as we learn more details about the alleged shooter and his possible motives.  We began today's show with your words of comfort for Orlando. Here is how Georgia grieves for the loss of 49 lives taken by an act of violence. 


2016 is the centennial year of the Pulitzer Prize. The honor has been awarded to dozens of people from or living in Georgia, and so we'll spend some time with past winners all year long in a series we're calling Pulitzer Peaches. In this next installment, we revisit our conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Alice Walker. 

Walker's upbringing in Eatonton, Georgia has had a heavy influence on her writing. She became the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1983 for her novel, "The Color Purple." 


Nate Steiner

For National Iced Tea Day, we dive into the little-known origins of a Southern staple: sweet tea. These days you can find it just about everywhere in Georgia. However, there was a time when sweet tea was more rare. Producer Sean Powers pours up a tall glass of history with freelance journalist Tove Danovich and Vernell Mosley of the Sweet Tea Factory.

Everett Collection | The History Channel

A remake of the 1977 miniseries Roots premiered last week on the History Channel. It has reignited a conversation about the nation's painful past with slavery, but is it a conversation that still needs to be had? 

Matthew Jordan Smith / Courtesy of Penguin Group USA

Author Terry McMillian uses a familiar creative device to help many of her female characters face their fears: reinvention. We saw that play out in her New York Times bestseller "Waiting to Exhale,” and we see it again in her latest novel, "I Almost Forgot About You." McMillian is in Atlanta this week for a booktalk and signing, and she tells about her writing process.


Muhammad Ali will be laid to rest on Friday. The champion fighter and famed activist touched many lives around the world. Retired Georgia state trooper Johnnie B. Hall had the chance to meet Ali in Atlanta 20 years ago. He was part of the security team at the Opening Ceremony of the 1996 Olympic Games, and his assignment that night was an unforgettable one. 


Students at Georgia Tech were part of a recent social experiment, but they just didn't realize it at the time. Computing Professor Ashok Goel teaches an artificial intelligence class every semester. Last semester, he did something different by adding another teacher’s assistant to his online course. Only this T.A. was A.I., operated by artificial intelligence.

How Smart Are Animals?

Jun 3, 2016
Viral Hog

The most famous name in the animal kingdom this week is Harambe.  The 17-year-old gorilla was killed at the Cincinnati Zoo last Saturday after a little boy fell into his habitat. Harambe didn't harm the child but zoo officials decided to put him down after about 10 minutes.  They say the gorilla may have ultimately decided to hurt the boy.

Sean Powers / On Second Thought

For years, a theatre company in rural Fulton County has gone to extreme measures to change the look and feel of professional theatre. Serenbe Playhouse offers outdoor productions in settings that are as authentic as you can get to the storyline, and it recently expanded  to Atlanta. On Second Thought producer/reporter Sean Powers paid a visit to Serenbe to catch a recent production of “Charlotte's Web.”

Sean Powers / On Second Thought

Atlanta-based New York Daily News columnist Shaun King writes about race, justice, social inequality and, of course, politics.  He doesn’t shy away when it comes to his own politics.  In a recent op-ed, King revealed that he plans to leave the Democratic Party after the 2016 presidential election.  We talk to the life-long Democrat about why his political affiliation no longer resonates with him and what’s next.  

Andrew Davis Tucker / University of Georgia

There is still a lot we don't know about the effects of climate change on our world.  NASA and the Air Force have collaborated to help us learn more. They've called on a special team of students from the University of Georgia for help.  The team will build two small satellites to be launched into space.  UGA student Caleb Adams details the project.

Heart disease and cancer are the top two killers in this country, but the third leading cause of death in the U.S. might surprise you. It's medical errors. Between 210,000 and 440,000 patients die each year following a surgical error, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. We talk with  Marty Makary, who led the study and says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention needs to change the way it track these deaths.

Georgia Playlist: Chandra Currelley

May 27, 2016
Chandra Currelley

The Atlanta Jazz Festival takes over Piedmont Park through Sunday, and that gives us the perfect excuse to add a couple more tunes to the Georgia Playlist. This special edition of the Georgia Playlist features an artist who will perform at the festival. Atlanta jazz singer Chandra Currelley shares songs by Jean Carne and James Brown.

The Breakroom gang joins guest host Adam Ragusea to weigh in on the week's news.

Dexter Vines

Marvel Comics dropped a bombshell this week about one of its most popular characters. Turns out, Captain America is a member of a terrorist organization within the Marvel universe. The passionate reaction to the news shows what a close connection fans can feel to comic book characters. This weekend that connection will be celebrated at the MomoCon comic convention returns to Atlanta. One of the event's featured speakers is Atlanta comic book artist Dexter Vines, who has worked with nearly every major comic book publisher.  

alist / flickr

Many air travelers are experiencing long lines and headaches as extreme delays continue at airport security checkpoints across the country. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed told reporters this week that he doesn't want Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to become a poster child for stalled traveler traffic. 

Mike Andrews / flickr

Centuries ago, Plato predicted that democracy is always doomed to fail and die. He said a tyrant will always rise in democracies and end the free system. Was he right? We asked Charlotte Thomas, a philosophy professor at Mercer University in Macon

Waffle House

Come this December, millions of American workers will be eligible for overtime pay. That's because of a new policy finalized by the Labor Department. In our regular series, “Break It Down,” we talk about the history of the 40-hour work week. Then, Wall Street Journal reporter Melanie Trottman discusses how the new overtime protections work and who’s covered by them.

James Martin

Every cocktails in the South has its own story. Just look up the history of the mint julep or the gin fizz. A new documentary by an Atlanta filmmaker tells the story of one of the most famous cocktails to come out of the South. The film, "The New Orleans Sazerac," was shown at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this week.

Kent D. Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, Pool, File

Many of the 11 Atlanta Public Schools educators who were convicted of racketeering in a cheating scandal last year can now return to the classroom. We learn more from Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Molly Bloom. 

Department of Corrections

Imagine escaping from prison and being on the run for nearly 50 years, only to be recaptured.  That’s the story of Robert Stackowitz. He escaped from a Georgia prison in 1968, and was just recently found by authorities to be living Connecticut. His  attorney Norm Pattis says Stackowitz is fully rehabilitated and in poor health, and shouldn’t return to prison. We talk with Pattis about the case.

Linda Mathias

Harry Crews isn't a household name, but the Georgia author made an indelible mark on Southern literature. His talent has been likened to William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor and Hunter S. Thompson. A new biography hopes to bring more awareness to his legacy. Ted Geltner is the author of “Blood, Bone, and Marrow: A Biography of Harry Crews.”

Sean Powers / On Second Thought

The culinary world is divided. Women spend on average more time in the kitchen than men, but most celebrity chefs are men. One food writer is calling for more gender diversity in her field because she says that matters to food trends and journalism. In a commentary, Kathleen Purvis, the food editor of the Charlotte Observer, says women need to have a seat at that table.

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The Democratic Party has evolved and been molded over generations. Bates College lecturer Christopher Petrella says one photograph of Bill Clinton campaigning for president at Stone Mountain in Georgia paints a narrative of the Democratic Party’s history of discrimination.

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One restaurant chain made a sincere attempt at revolutionizing the customer experience last year. Joe's Crab Shack became the nation's first large restaurant chain to start a no-tip policy, but it backed away from that model earlier this month.