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. 

Courtesy of Boston Public Library

The network of rail lines and canals that gave Waycross its name now act as dividing lines for the community.

For a century, the canals carried runoff from the rail yard and other local industries. Generations of kids roamed along the banks and swam in the southeast Georgia heat. In 2015, four area children were diagnosed with rare cancers within the span of two months.


The new head of the American Academy of Pediatrics is from Fayetteville, Georgia.  Meet Dr. Sara Goza and hear about her recent visit to the U.S.-Mexico border and her concerns about the health of migrant children detained there.


Courtesy of American Academy of Pediatrics

Fayetteville pediatrician Dr. Sara Goza has been elected president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

Goza is back at her practice in Georgia after visiting the U.S.-Mexico border, and examining detention facilities where migrant children are held. She joined On Second Thought to tell us what she saw there.


Tricia Hersey

Your Fourth of July plans may include parades, pool parties, cookouts or the Peachtree Road Race. Tricia Hersey plans to celebrate with a nice, long nap. The founder of The Nap Ministry, Hersey is known to many as a champion of rest. Some even call her the Nap Bishop.

Hersey dreamed up The Nap Ministry while a divinity student at Emory University's Candler School of Theology. Graduate school had taken a toll on her sleep, and consequently her health, so she made the decision to rest. She joined On Second Thought in studio to preach the benefits of rest and share about her ministry, which she sees as a form of self care and social justice.  


Chris Pizzello / Invision/AP

Amid prep for Fourth of July cookouts, pool parties and parades, the On Second Thought team is also cooking up summer playlists – and this year, no playlist would be complete without "Old Town Road."


The world has six fewer North Atlantic Right Whales after a summer of loss for the endangered species. Four of the animals have died in the last week alone, and three of them were of breeding age.

The whales are Georgia's state marine mammal, and biologists are alarmed these deaths bring the species even closer to extinction. Clay George is a wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. He's among those monitoring the numbers, and he spoke with On Second Thought about the dwindling population, the role of the Georgia coast in the whales' life cycle and the origins of their name.


Old Town Road launched Atlanta artist Lil Nas X to the top of the charts for thirteen weeks making it the potential 2019 "Song of the Summer." It started on the “Hot Country” chart and was pulled by Billboard when executives decided it wasn’t country. Georgia Tech professor and music journalist Joycelyn Wilson gives her take on what makes it the arguable “song of the summer.”


Cox Media Group

When Lorenzo "Lo" Jelks joined WSB-TV in 1967 as the station's first black, on-air reporter, viewers didn't see him. Though they heard his voice and saw his name, actually getting on camera represented another challenge entirely – one that required a concerted effort, led by civil rights activist Lonnie King and Atlanta's NAACP. 

A new documentary from the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists chronicles that effort and the trailblazing men and women who became Atlanta's first broadcast journalists. Among those featured in Black & Reporting: The Struggle behind the Lens is Walt Elder, the first African American to report morning headline news at WSB.


The first day of July marks the beginning of the new fiscal year and when many laws take effect. The record-setting $27.5 billion state operating budget also kicks in, complete with money for a new voting system and pay raises for teachers, school staff and state employees. 

Stephen Fowler, GPB's political reporter, joined On Second Thought to talk about new laws taking effect.


U.S. lawmakers are still debating the merits of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement.

Mexico was the first country to ratify the proposed NAFTA replacement, and Canada is expected to follow suit.

A group of University of Georgia professors estimates that the state would lose nearly $900 million if the USMCA is adopted.

On Second Thought heard from Jeffrey Dorfman, one of the co-authors of the University of Georgia report.


Public Domain

Last week, Mexico became the first country to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA. Canada is expected to follow suit in short course.

In The United States, however, not all American lawmakers are convinced the USMCA would be a better deal than the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. Democrats have threatened to block it, and a few key Republicans are withholding support unless the administration makes some concessions on tariffs.


Jeremy Jacobs, Curator Emeritus National Museum of Natural History

In 2008, G. Wayne Clough became the 12th secretary of the Smithsonian. The Douglas native and Georgia Tech president emeritus was the first Southerner to hold the position.

When Clough retired from his post, he decided to write about his birthplace of South Georgia. At the same time, he dove into the Smithsonian's vast collections, searching for artifacts from the region. He shares what he found in his memoir Things New and Strange: A Southerner's Journey through the Smithsonian Collections.


Suzanne Jackson has lived a creative life. She's known for her visual art - but is also a poet, dancer, writer, radio host and has a master's in theatrical set design from Yale University.

Telfair Museums in Savannah is revealing a 50-year retrospective of Jackson's work. It's called, "Suzanne Jackson: Five Decades." The exhibition will begin showing this Friday. Jackson spoke with On Second Thought about her life, work and how art has always been a part of it all.

 


Rosser Shymanski / GPB

For the past three decades, Rosser Shymanski has played a critical role in almost every program you've watched on Georgia Public Broadcasting. Shymanski, GPB's television production manager, retires Friday after 31 years with the organization. He will say "Aloha" to his colleagues Friday with his final "Hawaiian Shirt Friday," a tradition that has become a mainstay of GPB, just like Shymanski himself.

But before Shymanski worked behind the scenes and won the hearts of his colleagues at GPB, viewers around Atlanta knew and loved him as DeAundra Peek – a character he created and portrayed for The American Music Show on People TV, a public access channel, from 1987 to 2004. The full collection is now archived at Emory University's Rose Library.


SanjibLemar / Wikimedia Commons

In many American neighborhoods, it's illegal to build anything other than a single-family home on most lots zoned for residential properties. Take Sandy Springs for example: 85% of the Atlanta suburb's residential land allows for only detached, single-family homes. Some people want to change that, and regional leaders are passing laws to increase density. Others want things to stay exactly as they are: One family. One house. One yard.


On most residentially-zoned lots in American neighborhoods, it is illegal to build anything other than a single-family home. In Sandy Springs, 85% of the residential land allows for only detached, single-family homes. As Savannah updates its historic zoning laws for a modern world, residents of a newer city aren’t all ready for change.

On Second Thought explored the broader implications of the debate over ordinances in Sandy Springs with New York Times’ Writer Emily Badger and Evelyn Andrews of Reporter Newspapers.


Atlanta has one of the highest eviction rates in the country. According to Apartment List, the city ranks third in the nation — with a nearly 6% rise in evictions between 2015 and 2017. 

Earlier this month, On Second Thought spoke with Brooke Gladstone about a reporting series NPR's On The Media created with the Eviction Lab at Princeton. Our conversationon the series called, "The Scarlet E: Unmasking America's Eviction Crisis" garnered a lot of feedback from listeners so we decided to do a follow up, while getting a landlord's perspective.  

 


Neighbors are still missing their newly retired mailman.

Floyd Martin was a beloved mail carrier who worked the same route in Marietta for nearly 35 years. So beloved, in fact, that when he retired a few weeks ago, the community he served so well started a GoFundMe page to send him to Hawaii. Delta Air Lines pitched in too — providing airfare. 

 

Ryan Myers

When Bryan Rucker and Ryan Bars became step-brothers, they also became a band. Based in Atlanta, The Norm fuses hip-hop, rock and pop, creating a sound far from normal.

Just in time for the summer solstice, The Norm's new single, "Summer Days," is out today. The band is set to perform at AthFest on Saturday, but first, Rucker and Bars stopped by GPB to add two songs to our Georgia Playlist of songs written or performed by a Georgian. Rucker chose OutKast's "Ms. Jackson" and Bars picked "Rubber Band Man" by T.I. 


Grant Blankenship / GPB

June 20 marks World Refugee Day. The United Nations defines refugees as people forced to flee their native countries "because of persecution, war or violence." On Second Thought covered a variety of aspects of the refugee experience in Georgia. 


© Maira Kalman, courtesy of Julie Saul Gallery, New York.

Maira Kalman is perhaps best known by adults for the now iconic "New Yorkistan" and other covers for The New Yorker, or a dozen books including And the Pursuit of Happiness and The Principles of Uncertainty. Kids, on the other hand, know her better for the 18 picture books she's written and illustrated.

Kalman's picture books for children are the inspiration for an exhibition opening this week at the High Museum of Art. It's called The Pursuit of Everything. One of her books, Max Makes a Millionis also being adapted for the stage. Kalman is in town for the play's world premiere at the Alliance Theatre and the exhibition's opening this weekend, but first, she joined On Second Thought from New York.


Leighton Rowell / GPB

In 2007, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez government effectively shut down RCTV, the nation's most influential private cable channel. The decision sparked protests across the country. Atlanta's Venezuelan community demonstrated locally, too.

Isabella Gomez Sarmiento, who was 10 at the time, attended with her parents and learned from them to value freedom of expression and an unfettered press.

The recent Georgia State University graduate now exercises those rights as a columnist for Teen Vogue. This fall, she joins NPR as a recipient of the prestigious Kroc Fellowship. First, she joined On Second Thought for a conversation about journalism and the future of the industry. 


She took her columns for Teen Vogue seriously, and now she’s taking her skills to NPR.  On Second Thought met Isabella Sarmiento Gomez,  a new NPR Kroc Fellow from Atlanta.

Each year hundreds of people hike the Appalachian Trail, which starts right here in Georgia. This year, two married writers are doing them. We followed up with them for another audio check in along their journey.


Max Pixel

Earlier in June, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that 17,000 poor, elderly or disabled Georgians had lost their Medicaid benefits. The Georgia Department of Community Health said their accounts were terminated for not responding to renewal notices. Now, the AJC reports state officials have revealed the full number of people slated to lose Medicaid is closer to 30,000.

Some people read the local paper for news and sports. Others head straight to the columns. That's where you'll find Dick Yarbrough, who has never run short of opinions. The iconic opinion-wielder enters about 600,000 homes across Georgia and addresses more than one million readers each week.

The Georgia Press Association named Yarbrough's column "most humorous" several times — although some politicians don't appreciate his sense of humor at all. Yarbrough spoke with On Second Thought host Virginia Prescott about his career writing columns for more than 20 years.

 


Organizers and city leaders are still puzzling out why a job fair at the Anderson Conference Center in Macon recently saw an unexpectedly large turnout.

More than 3,500 job hunters stood in a line a mile long, and some continued to wait hours after the fair technically closed.  This all happened amidst reports of low unemployment rates for the county and state.

 


David Goldman / AP

Monday marks four years since 12 members of the historically black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, welcomed a young white man to join their bible study group. When their eyes shut for a closing prayer, he pulled out a Glock pistol and fired 77 rounds, killing nine people.


Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, commemorates the official end of slavery in the U.S. in 1865, more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation. Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced the end of the American Civil War to the last group of enslaved people in the country.

The day itself is June 19, but celebrations kick off across Georgia this weekend, from big festivals to more intimate evening conversations.

 


The 2016 film Hidden Figures highlights black female mathematicians who battled racial and gender discrimination to help the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA launch its Apollo missions to the moon. 

An Atlanta native, single mom and Georgia State University doctoral student will follow in their footsteps this summer.

 


If you grumble about paying taxes, you might have another reason to complain.  A new investigation shows Georgia county tax commissioners are allowed to profit personally from the collection of city taxes. 

 


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