Leighton Rowell

On Second Thought Producer

Leighton Rowell is a producer for On Second Thought.

Prior to joining GPB, Leighton lived in Brazil, teaching English through a Fulbright Award and eating far too much pão de queijo.

Leighton's previous reporting has appeared on TIME.com, The Trace and in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; she also interned for NBC Sports during the Rio 2016 Olympics. For her work on investigations at the AJC and WSB-TV, Leighton was honored with two Larry Peterson Memorial Awards in 2016.

An Atlanta native, Leighton attended the University of Georgia, where she was a Foundation Fellow and managing editor of The Red & Black student newspaper. She also began her public radio career in Athens as an intern for WUGA's classical music program Afternoon Concert.

Leighton graduated from UGA summa cum laude with bachelor's degrees in history and Romance languages. She speaks Portuguese and French. 

Hurricane Michael makes landfall in Florida on Wednesday. The hurricane is expected to hit the northeastern coast of Georgia and continue through the southwest and center of the state, according to the National Weather Service. We spoke with Marshall Shepherd, the program director for atmospheric sciences at the University of Georgia, about tracking the hurricane over the week and how meterologists convey the severity of storms. We also spoke with Gwen Cooper, an author and pet rescue expert about what to do with pets during extreme weather.


Courtesy Wildsam

"Wildsam" is not your typical travel guide. Created by LaGrange, Georgia, native Taylor Bruce, the highly-designed, pocket-sized Wildsam Field Guide has no starred ratings or glossy photos. Described as existing between a magazine and a guidebook, each Wildsam is instead filled with illustrations and longform essays, interviews with locals and essential knowledge about a place's history as well as critical issues it faces today. The aim, Bruce said, is to give travelers a true sense of place, regardless of where they're from or where they're going. This time, Wildsam is sending travelers across the American South with its newest Road Trip guide.


Georgia has the seventh highest rate of uninsured children in the country. The problem is especially severe in low-income communities. The report from Voices of Georgia's Children shows 80 percent of Georgia children who were eligible for medicaid or Peachcare in 2016 weren't enrolled. Virginia Prescott spoke with executive director from Voices of Georgia's Children, Erica Sitkoff, and editor of Georgia Health News, Andy Miller, about the barriers Georgians face.


Bubba73 (Jud McCranie) / Wikimedia Commons

A startling number of children eligible for Medicaid or PeachCare in Georgia still don’t have insurance coverage, a recent study has found. Another reason kids don’t see doctors as often as they should is also a factor for adults: access. It’s not just cost, but the lack of physicians, especially in rural Georgia.


There aren't many African-American males who play lead roles in superhero or Sci-Fi films. 

The U.S. Senate plans to vote this Friday on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Given his record, predictions are that Kavanaugh will shift the court to a conservative majority. That got us wondering about what cases are on the docket for the term that began on Monday. We spoke with Fred Smith, Jr. about cases to watch during the 2018-2019 term. Smith is an associate professor of law at Emory University School of Law.

Next Monday, public schools and state offices across Georgia close to mark Columbus Day. Five states, more than 50 cities and dozens of universities no longer observe the federal holiday. Most instead celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day. After a unanimous vote this summer, South Fulton became the first city in Georgia to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day. On Second Thought’s Virginia Prescott spoke with Mayor Pro Tem Mark Baker about the ctiy's new holiday. 

Courtesy Pride School Atlanta

Pride School Atlanta, an LGBTQ-affirming school, closed its doors in September after two years of operations. The school's closing came amid low enrollment and financial challenges. Christian Zsilavetz opened Pride School Atlanta in August of 2016 to create a space accepting of everyone and free of homophobia and transphobia. He joined us for a conversation about the future of LGBTQ-affirming education after Pride School Atlanta. 


The FBI is currently investigating allegations of sexual assault made against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Tens of millions of Americans watched testimony from Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Kavanaugh. Responses to the hearings and the #MeToo Movement make clear sexual violence is something that must be addressed in the public sphere. We spoke with University of Georgia psychology professor Isha Metzger and Sally Sheppard, executive director of The Cottage, a sexual assault center and children's advocacy center. We discussed how we talk about sexual assault in our communities. 


Leighton Rowell / GPB

From social media to Capitol Hill, conversations about sexual assault are dominating the national dialogue, taking a topic that for decades was taboo to the center of public debate.

 

We asked how these conversations have gone with your loved ones.


The ongoing debate over so-called religious freedom laws recently surfaced in the Georgia gubernatorial race. Democrat Stacey Abrams told a group in Savannah the law is unnecessary -- and could prevent prospective employers from setting up shop in Georgia. Meanwhile, Republican rival Brian Kemp has pledged to sign a religious protection law. That got us thinking about the nature of laws on Georgia’s books. We learn about some curious and outdated ones.

Christine Blasey Ford
Associated Press

The FBI is currently investigating allegations of sexual assault made against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Tens of millions of Americans watched testimony from Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Kavanaugh.

Responses to the hearings and the #MeToo Movement make clear sexual violence is something that must be addressed in the public sphere. We spoke with University of Georgia psychology professor Isha Metzger and Sally Sheppard, executive director of The Cottage, a sexual assault center and children's advocacy center. We discussed how we talk about sexual assault in our communities.


There are a lot of film and television projects being produced right now in Georgia. We got a rundown of some of what’s in production from Kalena Boller. She works as a location manager in Georgia’s film industry. She also gave us a preview of her upcoming GPB podcast, "The Credits." It focuses on the stories of the people who work behind the scenes.

 

GPB

The federal Farm Bill making its way through Congress could dramatically reduce the availability of free school meals. Those meals offer significant help for the nearly 20 percent of Georgia households with children that struggle to afford quality food for their families, according to the Food Research and Action Center. So many students qualify for the free meal program in Macon's Bibb County School District that free breakfast and lunch are available district-wide. To put that in perspective, the district served 18,000 lunches last year alone. 

"Hometown Georgia" / GPB

Augusta may be best known for the Masters Tournament, but this Georgia city has more than one claim to fame. For starters, "Godfather of Soul" James Brown grew up in Augusta. More recently, the city has made a name for itself as a national hub for cybersecurity. Sharon Collins took her GPB television series "Hometown Georgia" to Augusta to learn more about the city and joined "On Second Thought" with some of the stories she brought back.


Courtesy of Beau Cabell / The Telegraph

The federal Farm Bill making its way through Congress could dramatically reduce the availability of free school meals. Those meals offer significant help for the nearly 20 percent of Georgia households with children that struggle to afford quality food for their families, according to the Food Research and Action Center. So many students qualify for the free meal program in Macon's Bibb County School District that free breakfast and lunch are available district-wide. To put that in perspective, the district served 18,000 lunches last year alone.


GPB

The Fair Housing Act is 50 years old this year. Former President Lyndon Johnson implemented this landmark piece of civil rights legislation days after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. King often said housing was a key victory in the struggle for African-American equity in the United States. 


Leighton Rowell / GPB

Fifty years after the Fair Housing Act, we took a look at the state of fair housing and affordable housing in Georgia today.


Grant Blankenship / GPB

During the 1930s, Macon, Georgia was the nation's most redlined city. That term was not used until much later, but the practice -- denying mortgage loans or municipal services that effectively drew a line around areas based on race or income -- was common. Redlining is now illegal, but as GPB's Grant Blankenship reported in 2016, finding affordable housing in Macon -- and many of Georgia's growing cities -- is tough.


GPB

Five years ago, Jonathan Merritt moved from Buford to Brooklyn, New York. Almost immediately, Merritt found he couldn't communicate with the people around him. It was not that they spoke a different language, but rather that Southern Baptist preacher's son — and Emory-educated Master of Divinity — felt unable to have the conversations about faith and spirituality that he had always had in his hometown. Merritt set out to find out if other people in the United States were avoiding conversations about religion. 


Courtesy Anthony Batista

Five years ago, Jonathan Merritt moved from Buford to Brooklyn, New York. Almost immediately, Merritt found he couldn't communicate with the people around him. It was not that they spoke a different language, but rather that Southern Baptist preacher's son — and Emory-educated Master of Divinity — felt unable to have the conversations about faith and spirituality that he had always had in his hometown. Merritt set out to find out if other people in the United States were avoiding conversations about religion. In a survey of 1,000 people, he found that 1 in 5 had not had a conversation about religion in the last year. 


GPB

Today, "On Second Thought" took a scan of the state.

We spoke with NPR political reporter Asma Khalid about low voter turnout, and heard from some of the Georgians she met in Houston, Cobb and Hancock counties.

GPB's own Emily Jones also joined from Savannah with a story about alligators in the Okefenokee swamp, and "On Second Thought" host Virginia Prescott munched on some edible bugs with University of Georgia entomologist Marianne Shockley.

We also caught up with John T. Edge of the Southern Foodways Alliance. His new series, "TrueSouth," debuts on SEC Network tonight. Chef Todd Richards also told us about his favorite Southern ingredient: collard greens. 

SEC Network / Bluefoot Entertainment

Football and food are two mighty markers of Southern identity. The two intersect Tuesday night when John T. Edge and Wright Thompson's new series "TrueSouth," an exploration of Southern food and culture, debuts on SEC Network. In the first episode, Edge, who directs the Southern Foodways Alliance, goes to Birmingham, Alabama, where he meets generations of Greek-Americans who transformed their community. 


Paul Sableman / Flickr

With American politics more polarized than ever, most Americans have at least one thing in common going into midterms: they tend to stay home on Election Day. In fact, as NPR political reporter Asma Khalid has found, midterm elections have not drawn a majority of voters to the polls since the early 1900s. She set out to find out why.


GPB

Is Georgia turning blue? That question came up in 2014 when Jason Carter ran for governor, in 2016 when Hillary Clinton ran for president and in 2017 with Jon Ossoff’s campaign in the most expensive House race in history. Every time, however, Georgia remained a red state where Republicans won. 


Wikimedia Commons

Is Georgia turning blue? That question came up in 2014 when Jason Carter ran for governor, in 2016 when Hillary Clinton ran for president and in 2017 with Jon Ossoff’s campaign in the most expensive House race in history. Every time, however, Georgia remained a red state where Republicans won.


On this edition of "Two Way Street," Georgia musician Adron stops by to talk and play a few songs from her new album "Water Music" before setting sail for the west coast. We also hear from a woman who made a career of saying goodbye: Kay Powell. 


GPB

Efrain de la Rosa, a 40-year-old detainee at ICE’s Stewart detention center in Lumpkin, was found dead in his cell last Tuesday.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say the preliminary cause of death was self-inflicted strangulation.  The case remains under investigation.


On Second Thought for Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Jul 10, 2018
GPB

Just over a year ago, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested a 25-year-old woman in Augusta, Georgia for allegedly leaking top secret information from the National Security Agency to the press. Last month, Reality Winner pled guilty to violating the Espionage Act. Winner was sentenced to 63 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Her prosecution is the first in the trump administration’s crackdown on whistleblowers.

 


WikiCommons

Just over a year ago, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested a 25-year-old woman in Augusta, Georgia for allegedly leaking top secret information from the National Security Agency to the press. Last month, Reality Winner pled guilty to violating the Espionage Act. Winner was sentenced to 63 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Her prosecution is the first in the Trump administration’s crackdown on whistleblowers.

 


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