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, and recognition from the Atlanta Press Club. 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.

Ways to Connect

commons.wikipedia.org

Last year, Atlanta was named the “Nerdiest City in the Country” by Movoto, a real estate blog.  Marietta was named “Nerdiest Small City.” When did being a nerd become cool? And are nerds experiencing a golden age in Georgia?

Nerd culture tastemakers including Jess Merrimon, co-founder of the popular fan convention MomoCon, and “Archer” animator and artist Kevin Mellon talk about The Peach State as a nerd capital of the world. 

Sean Powers / On Second Thought

The Breakroom gang joins host Celeste Headlee to weigh in on the week's news.

YouTube

Earlier this year, Beyoncé took the nation by storm with her music video for the song, “Formation.” It evokes images of Hurricane Katrina, unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, and the Black Lives Matter movement. It's also sparked a massive conversation about race issues in this country - and revealed divisions that go deeper than black and white.  

Benjamin Mathes

In the age of social media, we spend a lot of time communicating and very little time listening. April 11 is the day to change that with Free Listening Day. People are encouraged to stand outside holding a sign that says "free listening", and then wait and see what people will say to them. This event is the brainchild of Benjamin Mathes, founder of a group called Urban Confessional.  He talks with us about how Free Listening Day grew from an idea to a global movement.

Wikimedia Commons

Jackie Robinson broke many barriers in his lifetime both on and off the baseball field. The Cairo, Georgia native's rise took many people by surprise when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers and became the first African-American in Major League Baseball. A new documentary airing Monday and Tuesday night on GPB-TV tells Robinson's story through the lens of those who knew him best. Filmmaker Ken Burns talks with us about Robinson’s fight against prejudice.

commons.wikipedia.org

Spring is here, which means dogwood trees are in full bloom and to mark the occasion, Atlanta’s 80th annual Dogwood Festival returns to Piedmont Park this weekend. Reporting live from the park, On Second Thought producer Sean Powers gets a lesson on Georgia’s beloved Dogwood tree from Valerie VanSweden, the curator of the Goizueta Gardens at the Atlanta History Center. Then,  Sean talks with Atlanta artist Dawn Martin, who’s showcasing her landscape paintings at this year’s festival.

Blackviolin / Wikimedia Commons

The Florida-based duo, Black Violin, is redefining music. A lot of their songs are a mixture of R&B, hip hop, and classical music. Members Will B and Kev Marcus are trying to diversify the appeal of classical  music. They’re performing Thursday night in Atlanta at Variety Playhouse. Will B talks about the duo’s appeal and their mission of getting making classical music more accessible. 

Heinrich Klaffs / Wikimedia Commons

A new biography about the Godfather of Soul reveals what James Brown sought for so long to hide - his roots.  Author James McBride writes that the facts of Brown's life have become "twisted like a pretzel beyond recognition." McBride tries to set the record straight with "Kill 'Em And Leave: Searching For James Brown And The American Soul." 

Sean Powers / On Second Thought

Bullying is a  growing problem in the nation’s schools. The National Education Association estimates  160,000 children miss school every day out of fear of being bullied, attacked or intimidated by other students.

Sean Powers / On Second Thought

South African attorney Mohamed Keshavjee is the latest recipient of the prestigious Gandhi-King-Ikeda Award for Peace, which is given out at Morehouse College. Past recipients include Rosa Parks, Andrew Young, and Nelson Mandela. Keshavjee talks about his work to help people in impoverished nations settle family disputes outside a courtroom.

DrJimiGlide / Wikimedia Commons

Atlanta's Clermont Hotel closed a few years ago, but the nearly century-old building retains its status as a place where interesting and sometimes unseemly things happened. There are even a few ghost stories. A new short documentary called Hotel Clermont records the last six months of this iconic structure's life before it closed. We talk with the film's director Heather Hutson and Bill Clark, who was the hotel's last manager before it closed in 2009.  

Universal Pictures

This year,  the Atlanta Film Festival paid tribute to the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes," which was first released in 1991. The film stars Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary Louise-Parker, and Mary Stuart Masterson. It's set in rural Alabama, but it was was filmed in Juliette, Georgia, just north of Macon. Director Jon Avnet talks about the production process, how being a feminist influenced the way he went about telling this story, and the film’s  legacy 25 years later.  

HBO

Long before Georgia became a film industry hub, the Atlanta Film Festival drew Hollywood types to the state. The 40th annual Atlanta Film Festival kicks off on Friday. More than 150 narrative and documentary films will be shown over 10 days. Jennifer Brett of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution gives us a preview of what to expect.

Sean Powers / On Second Thought

We all inherit more than genetic material from our parents.  One documentary at this year's Atlanta Film Festival is proof of that connection.  Concerto tells the story of two brothers bound by three things - love, music, and a painful past.  

Patterson-Gimlin film

A new Georgia museum that opened up last month tells the story of the legend of Bigfoot. “Expedition Bigfoot: The Sasquatch Museum” is located in Cherry Log, Georgia. We talk with the museum’s co-founder, David Bakara, about why he wants to educate others about what some believe is a myth. We also hear from author Keith Bearden, who says part of the secrecy behind Bigfoot is for the creature’s own good.

Mercer University

Macon poet Anya Silver says her poetry has helped her come to terms with mortality. Silver’s life could have taken a much different turn. She was first diagnosed with an aggressive and lethal form of breast cancer when she was 35 years old and pregnant. It didn’t stop her. She continues to teach English at Mercer University, and she's a writer. Her poetry earned her a spot as one of last  year's Georgia Author of the Year award recipients.

Jennifer Woodard Maderazo / Wikimedia Commons

According to a report last year by the group The State of Obesity, black adults in Georgia have a 10% higher obesity rate compared to white adults. That gap is slightly lower than the national average. Soul food is a major staple in Southern culture, particularly among African-Americans. Is it to blame for obesity rates and other health disorders?

Michael Rivera / Wikimedia Commons

Something horrible is happening in Waycross, Georgia. Four area children were diagnosed with rare forms of cancer last year.

Cindy Hill / GPB

The Savannah Music Festival kicks off this week, and along with the rock, hip hop, jazz, blues and country, you can also go hear opera. The festival collaborates with the Savannah Voice Festival every year and that is run by world famous baritone Sherrill Milnes and his wife soprano Maria Zouves. We talked with them last year just as they first entered into this partnership with the Savannah Music Festival.  

Sean Powers / On Second Thought

Bird songs play a big part in this week's Atlanta Science Festival.  The rhythmic sounds of birds have also inspired modern music compositions. On Second Thought producer Sean Powers joined some bird watchers at the Fernbank Museum in Atlanta to learn about the variety of chirps, tweets and calls in the state.

Elizabeth Chappell

The debate over whether the U.S. accepts or rejects refugees from Syria continues nationwide. Atlanta photographer Elizabeth Chappell has been working to document the refugee crisis in the Syrian town of Kobani. She's planning to return in a few months, but before she does, she told us about what she witnessed.

 

Sean Powers / On Second Thought

More than 80 percent of children in Syria have been harmed by the unrest, according to a report by the United Nation’s children’s agency.  Some of the children who have escaped the violent conflict with their families have ended up in Georgia.  And we may have many more soon.  The U.S. plans to take in as many as 100,000 refugees by next year.

FREDDY COLE

Nat King Cole would be 97 today had he lived, but his legacy is very much alive.  And newly honored by a new album from his brother Freddy, who is a jazz musician in Atlanta. Freddy's  new album, "He  Was  The King,"  is a tribute to his brother, Nat. We  talk with Freddy about his storied career, and his brother’s legacy. 

The son of civil rights leader Ralph David Abernathy Jr. has died.  Ralph David Abernathy III served as a Georgia State Senator and was known for his own role in working toward racial equality. His most recent work involved efforts to build a memorial for activist icons like John Lewis, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King and his own parents. 

Sean Powers / On Second Thought

What people experience as minorities in America can vary based on gender, sexual orientation, religion or ethnic group.  But sometimes there are overlaps in these narratives.  A new class at Spelman and Morehouse Colleges explores relations between African-Americans and Asian-Americans through the lens of history.

Rebecca Kumar teaches the class called "How Does It Feel To Be A Problem?"  We chat with her and  two of her students who say their own experiences as African-Americans have shed a light on similar struggles facing Asian-Americans.

Brad Clinesmith / flickr

Atlanta is growing and it's growing fast. For the last six years, Atlanta has been the top moving destination in the U.S., according to Penske Truck Rental. Within the next 25 years, expect many more new faces to the city.

Emily Jones / GPB

Musicians from all over the world are in Savannah this week for the annual Stopover Music Festival. One of Georgia's hometown bands performing is Twisty Cats. Peter Mavrogeorgis and Blake Olmstead are the creative forces behind the group. They're married, and moved to Savannah a few years ago from New York. By day, they run a recording studio, and by night they perform what they describe as "Electro-gothabilly-Psych-Punk-Pop."

Sean Powers / On Second Thought

The Stopover Music Festival brings in a hundred bands to perform over three days in Savannah. Many of the musicians are local, but some are out-of-towners who need a place to crash. Luckily, Savannah is the Hostess City and there are a large group of enthusiastic volunteers who open their hearts and even their homes to the bands. Our producer Sean Powers visited one of those homes, where he met the band Go!Zilla,

Sean Powers / On Second Thought

One of the bands performing this year at the Stopover Music Festival in Savannah is Culture Vulture. The trio describes themselves as an instrumental pop outfit with heavy math rock and jazz influence. They give us a special studio performance and talk about their style of music.

Jim Bowen

There’s a “pro-white” rally scheduled in April at Stone Mountain, which is Georgia’s most famous Confederate monument. “Pro-white” is how the organizers describe it, others call it a white supremacy rally. Some self-described anti-hate groups are planning to protest the “pro-white” crowd.

Counter protesters include the Confederates of Michigan and the South Carolina-based Bastards Motorcycle Club. They say they want the rally to end without violence. We talked with members of both groups about what they hope to accomplish.

Pages