Ways to Connect

Grant Blankenship / GPB

On average, scores released in the 2017 Georgia Milestones end of year test show incremental but positive improvement for schools across the state. Look past the big picture, though, and schools still have ground to make up. 

Take third grade literacy, largely held as one of the best predictors of future academic achievement. Third grade literacy ranged from being almost universal in some suburban schools to being largely absent elsewhere.

Courtesy Jan Smith Studios

On this edition of “Two Way Street,” we go behind the scenes of the recording business and talk to the Atlanta vocal trainer who has nurtured the careers of some of the biggest artists in popular music.

Usher, Sugarland, Justin Bieber, India Arie, Drake, Ludacris, Collective Soul and so many others have all turned to Jan Smith to hone their voices and to learn life lessons from the woman they call Mama Jan.

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It's another busy summer weekend in Savannah. Connect Savannah's Jessica Leigh Lebos and G100's Mia Amini have some tips to help you make the most of it.

First, one of the first African-American elementary schools in Atlanta was recently slated for destruction. But after outcry a piece of the structure was saved, to become part of a new YMCA center in Vine City. This is just one fight in a perennial battle over historic preservation. A recent National Trust for Historic Preservation study says Atlanta has a  teardown culture -- worse than just about about any other major American city. We talk about this with Sheffield Hale, President of the Atlanta History Center. And with Mtamanika Youngblood, President of Sweet Auburn Works.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo

Today on “Political Rewind,” the Senate fumbles on health care, but President Trump tries to recover. Will a lunchtime meeting put a bill back in play? Our panel looks at the latest iteration of the attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare and what it means for those of us who rely on medical insurance. Our panel voted to draft Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson, already lauded for his bipartisanship by the New York Times, to lead the way forward.

Lacey Terrell / HBO

We talk with actor Tony Hale, best known for roles on "Veep" and "Arrested Development." He stars in the movie, "Brave New Jersey." It’s showing at the Macon Film Festival this week, July 20-23. 

We talk with actor Tony Hale, best known for roles on "Veep" and "Arrested Development." He stars in the movie, "Brave New Jersey." It’s showing at this week’s Macon Film Festival, July 20-23.

Then, 21 years have passed since Atlanta became an Olympic city. The games were transformative. For a look back, we re-visit a conversation we had with former NPR correspondent Kathy Lohr and Georgia State University professor Maurice Hobson.

David Goldman / AP Photo

The Atlanta Regional Commission predicts Gwinnett County will become Georgia’s most populous county by the year 2040, outpacing Fulton county with nearly 1.4 million residents. The county is launching a study to create a comprehensive transportation plan for the area.


Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed promised a comprehensive new plan to address homelessness in his State of the City address in February. The mayor promised a new $50 million program, co-funded by the city and United Way. Yesterday, Atlanta’s city council approved its share of the funding as Reed’s office released details on the expansive plan.


Travel journalist Arthur Levine joins us to discuss roller coaster history, and the appeal of getting your kicks on a ride.  


Six Flags just announced its historic wooden rollercoaster, The Georgia Cyclone, will be closed by the end of July. The park turned 50 this year, and a lot has changed since it opened. GPB producers Ryan McFadin and Sean Powers bring us an audio postcard from Six Flags.

Federal prosecutors are investigating bribes paid to Atlanta city officials in exchange for business contracts. Two contractors have already plead guilty to dishing out these bribes--though it is not clear who accepted them. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has exclusive new info on the situation. We talk with reporter Scott Trubey, who has been covering the bribery scandal at City Hall.

Then, Kaleb Anderson is a 19 year-old-from Atlanta. He was diagnosed with HIV just a couple of months before starting college. He shares his story in a commentary.

Jury: Railroad To Pay $3.9M For Train Death Of Film Worker

Jul 18, 2017
Colin Duran via AP

A railroad owner must pay $3.9 million to the family of a movie worker killed on a Georgia railroad trestle in 2014, a jury decided Monday in civil verdict that found the company shared in the blame for the deadly freight train collision even though the film crew was trespassing.

Commentary: HIV Tried Me. It Lost

Jul 18, 2017
Sean Powers / On Second Thought

This year marks 30 years since the Food and Drug Administration approved AZT, still the most effective drug to combat HIV and AIDS. The Atlanta metro area has one of the highest rates in the nation of new HIV diagnoses.

Courtney McDermott

Athens band Five Eight has been a staple in the Georgia music scene for decades. An upcoming documentary called “Weirdo: The Story of Five Eight” follows the band’s return to glory. This week, the group premieres their new double record “Songs for St. Jude." Five Eight members Mike Mantione and Sean Dunn join us from Athens.

Chris Rickwood

A video game is like a really complicated recipe. Every ingredient is necessary - from the animation, to the storyline, to the the sound effects. For Chris Rickwood of Atlanta, the music is the most important part of any game. He writes music for video games. He’s worked on songs for more than a hundred games. His compositions have been as short as two minutes and as long as an hour. We asked him to describe a couple of his favorite video game songs that have a connection to the Peach State.


A report released last month provides a grim picture on the effects of gun violence on children. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta found nearly 1,300 children in the United States die in shootings each year. That makes gunshot wounds the third leading cause of death for children up to the age of 17. We talk with Atlanta-based trauma surgeon Omar Danner, who worked on a separate report about the victims of gun violence admitted to Grady Hospital.

David Goldman / AP Photo/File

Today on “Political Rewind,” if money talks, what do Casey Cagle's campaign contributions have to say? So far, a fair amount of his donations have come from lobbyists and political action groups. What will voters make of it?

Sean Powers / On Second Thought

Atlanta-based comic book publishers Carlton and Darrick Hargro are working to develop more superheroes of color. The brothers are behind the new comic book company, 20th Place Media. They discussed their latest comic called “Moses,” which draws connections between the African slave trade and an alien abduction.

Jefferson Police Department via AP

Gun rights are often a subject of political argument, but doctors see the physical effects of gun violence everyday. Researchers at the Morehouse School of Medicine reviewed gunshot victims at a trauma center in Atlanta, and they found that over two years the bulk of the patients were male and African-American. We talked with Dr. Omar Danner, one of the study's researchers.

Grant Blankenship / GPB

Mike Mantione said he gets to live out his teenage fantasy, right around the halfway mark of the song "Palace Estates."

“It's got the best guitar solo I've ever done,” Mantione said.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

Today on “Political Rewind,” will Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell prevail? At the moment, his version of the health care bill hangs by a thread. With Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) saying they'll vote "NO," McConnell can't afford to lose any more votes. And the full-court press is on with moderates who may be wavering. A vote is expected next week.

Coroner: 'The Walking Dead' Stuntman Dies After On-Set Fall

Jul 14, 2017

A stuntman for "The Walking Dead" has died from injuries suffered in a fall on the Georgia set of the hit television show, the first on-set death in the U.S. in three years.

Coweta County Coroner Richard Hawk confirmed Friday that John Bernecker, 33, died about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at an Atlanta hospital. Bernecker fell earlier Wednesday on the show's set in Senoia, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) south of Atlanta.

Hawk said Bernecker died from blunt force trauma and that his death is considered accidental.

Tastes Like Summer

Bitter Southerner editor-in-chief Chuck Reece provides his views on how to construct the perfect tomato sandwich.

The Killer Tomato is coming this weekend. The Killer Tomato Festival, that is. Atlanta restaurateur and chef Ford Fry and Georgia Organics Director Alice Rolls join us to talk about southern cooking with juicy, ripe tomatoes.

The Killer Tomato is this coming weekend. The Killer Tomato Festival, that is. Atlanta restaurateur and chef Ford Fry and Georgia Organics Director Alice Rolls join us to talk about southern cooking with juicy, ripe tomatoes. Then, Bitter Southerner editor-in-chief Chuck Reece provides his views on how to construct the perfect tomato sandwich.

Macon Symphony Orchestra Will Exit Stage This Fall

Jul 14, 2017
Elizabeth Tammi / GPB News

After 41 years of performances, the Macon Symphony Orchestra has announced it will close its doors this October. Bob Veto, president of the symphony’s board, said the decision came after a decline in ticket sales and donations.

“We had a slow response to season ticket requests [and] we have had more and more local philanthropists and corporations saying that there's just too much competition for giving to the arts in Macon,” Veto said.  

GPB News/Emily Cureton

It’s been 20 years since the first Earthling vehicle touched down on the Red Planet. The Sojourner wasn’t much bigger than a toy—just a foot high and a couple feet wide—and definitely not big enough to host humans. Putting people on the surface of Mars will take a much bigger set of wheels. One prototype for the job stops by Atlanta this weekend, July 14-16.

Sean Powers / GPB

Tony Harris is back in the Breakroom! This week we’ll talk about infidelity in marriages, haunted furniture, and why Shia LeBeouf got arrested in Georgia. Plus we’ll discuss the resignation of the federal ethics leader, and debate sentencing for teens in Hawaii who killed endangered birds. Joining us this week are Nsenga Burton, Greg Williams, Natalie Pawelski, and Hector Fernandez.

Jimmy Carter says he is "okay" after being hospitalized for dehydration Thursday, according to Habitat for Humanity. Jonathan Reckford, the home-building philanthropy's CEO, says the 92-year-old former president was on site in Winnipeg, Canada, when he became "dehydrated working in the hot sun."

"As a precaution," the Carter Center says in a statement, "he was transported to St. Boniface General Hospital for rehydration," where he is together with his wife, Rosalynn.