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. 

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. 



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. 

Public health is a topic that is generally overlooked until a community experiences a crisis. The CDC Foundation recently launched the second season of its podcast Contagious Conversations, which highlights the issues and innovators of public health today. On Second Thought spoke with podcast host Clair Stinson.

Fernando Decillis/NPR

In 1965 the Rev. James Reeb was attacked and savagely beaten on the streets of Selma, Alabama. Days later, Reeb died of head injuries in a Birmingham hospital. Three white men were tried for the murder of the white Unitarian minister from Boston. All were ultimately acquitted, and no one was ever convicted.

More than 50 years later, Alabama journalists Andrew Beck Grace and Chip Brantley returned to that cold case. The details they discovered, about the murder and how the South remembers its history, are the subject of NPR's new podcast, White Lies. Grace and Brantley joined On Second Thought from WBHM in Birmingham.

When it comes to the 2020 elections, big name Democrats are making a major play for Georgia. Biden, Booker, Beto and Buttigieg – and those are just the candidates who are in the state this week. We hear how the visiting hopefuls pitched themselves to Georgia voters.

The official start of summer is just around the corner. Whether you are headed to the lake or the beach, it’s the perfect time to pick up your next favorite summer read.

On Second Thought asked a group of Georgia independent bookstore owners to recommend their favorite big hits and hidden gems for summer. Jessica Osborne from E Shaver in Savannah, Janet Geddis from Avid Bookshop in Athens and Frank Reiss from A Cappella Books in Atlanta all shared their picks for the season.

Finding a doctor can be especially difficult in many Georgia counties. For LGBTQ patients, it can be even worse. A first of its kind clinic in Savannah is working to ease that difficulty. As a part of LGBTQ Pride Month, On Second Thought checked in with the Starland Family Practice, a routine family medical office with a focus on LGBTQ patients, celebrating its one-year anniversary.


Brandon Earehart is the clinic’s owner and physician assistant and Dr. Raymond Martins, the clinic’s physician, joined us from our studio in Savannah to talk about the unique medical issues facing the LGBTQ community and how clinics work with insurance companies to get patients the medicines they need.

Atlanta Public Schools

Terrilyn Rivers-Cannon didn't always want to be a social worker. Growing up in Savannah, she wanted to become an attorney.

Rivers-Cannon didn't decide until she was about to graduate high school that she might be interested in following in the footsteps of her aunt, a professor of social work who for years had shared stories at family dinners about the people she helped.

The state of Georgia — and the country — is divided over so-called "heartbeat" bills and other new state laws restricting abortion. Many are confused about who could be prosecuted and what, exactly, constitutes a violation of the law.

On Second Thought leaves the flashpoints of politics behind and attempts to get some clarity on the legal questions raised by HB 481.


The Vienna Boys' Choir, founded more than 500 years ago, is one of the best known choirs in the world. Sopranos and altos between the ages of 9-14 comprise the group, which is also notable for embracing singers who are going through puberty. Many adolescent boys quit singing amid vocal change. 

Now, the Vienna Boys' Choir has organized a team of researchers to equip choral teachers with the information and skills they need to keep adolescent boys involved in singing. Georgia State University music professor Patrick Freer is part of that team. He joined On Second Thought to share his findings. 

Farmers caught up in the trade war recently got another bailout from Washington. Meanwhile, hurricane relief funds remain stalled in congress. We get an update on the outlook and mindset of Georgia farmers, and learn how they feel about being shuffled around the political game board.   

Mark Peele is a cotton grower and president of the South Central Georgia Gin Company. He joined On Second Thought on the line from Berrien County, Georgia to talk about the outlook — and mindset — of Georgia farmers. Jeffrey Harvey, director of the Georgia Farm Bureau's Public Policy Department, also joined the conversation from GPB's studio in Macon.

The Goat Farm, an arts community and compound in Atlanta, recently announced a $250 million transformation. Anthony Harper, founder and co-owner of The Goat Farm, joined On Second Thought to share what the expansion will entail, and what it means for the Georgia arts scene.

Drive through almost any neighborhood in Macon-Bibb County and you're apt to spot some houses with crumbling facades, shuttered windows and overgrown lawns. They're among the county's nearly 4,000 unoccupied properties. Most of them are only in poor or fair condition, but more than 400 are in such bad shape they need to be demolished.

Samantha Max / The Telegraph

Drive through almost any neighborhood in Macon-Bibb County and you're apt to spot some houses with crumbling facades, shuttered windows and overgrown lawns. They're among the county's nearly 4,000 unoccupied properties. Most of them are only in poor or fair condition, but more than 400 are in such bad shape they need to be demolished.

Samantha Max just wrapped a series and a podcast on blight for The Telegraph, where she covers health. She joined On Second Thought from Macon to explain the roots of the problem and what residents and local leaders are doing to fix it. 


According to the Georgia Food Bank Association, one in six Georgians is food insecure, meaning they don't know how or where they'll get their next meal. This week, as GPB reports on new approaches to food access, On Second Thought turns to a young Georgian who works on solutions to food insecurity on a national level.

Sweet Auburn Works

Alonzo Franklin Herndon founded what would become the Atlanta Life Insurance Company more than a century ago. A former sharecropper, Herndon started his business with a $140 investment – and went on to become the wealthiest black man in Atlanta.

A new public art project and history exhibit called Windows Speak brings Herndon, along with other leaders of the institution, back to Atlanta Life's historic office building on Auburn Avenue. Exhibit curator Amalia Amaki stopped by On Second Thought for a conversation about Atlanta Life's lasting legacy.

Food insecurity is a pressing issue nationwide, particularly in Georgia. The latest estimates put Georgia among the ten worst states for food insecurity among aging populations, and 1 in 4 children in the state lives in a food insecure household. 

Josephine Bennett is assistant news director for GPB News. She found that Georgia is the first in the country to create a state plan for addressing hunger among seniors. She joined On Second Thought from our Macon bureau. 

State officials say more than 100,000 service members from Georgia were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan between 2001 and 2012. Nationally, about 20% of veterans coming back from those conflicts have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.

The Atlanta organization Alchemy Sky Foundation helps people heal through music. It recently worked with a group of metro Atlanta veterans to create a song called "Adjust Fire." Jaye Budd, a musician and founder of Alchemy Sky Foundation, and Marcus McCreaery, an Army veteran with the project, joined On Second Thought to share details about the experience. 

Writer Steve Oney has been writing for more than four decades for publications such as Esquire, Time, GQ and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Over the course of his career, he estimates that he’s written somewhere between 150 and 200 profiles, 20 of which are included in A Man’s World, a collection of essays now out in paperback. 

All the profiles in A Man’s World explore a common theme: how and what it means to be a man. These have always been pressing questions for Oney, who told GPB Political Rewind host Bill Nigut that his father never fully equipped him for manhood. And so Oney looked toward his subjects for lessons in masculinity. He shared those lessons with us, including what he learned about being a man from actor Harrison Ford and Atlanta architect John Portman.

Courtesy André Gallant

Georgia was once a leader in the oyster canning business, but the last cannery closed in the 1960s. In decades since, the local bivalves had a reputation as too wild, too muddy and too much work, so they didn't show up on a lot of menus.

In the past few years, however, a group of people attuned to the estuaries of Glynn, Camden, Liberty and McIntosh counties have helped revive the Georgia oyster — through farming. Their stories are the center of André Gallant's A High Low Tide: The Revival of a Southern Oyster.

Courtesy Leah Penniman

In 1920, African American farmers owned 14% of all American farmland. Today, 45,000 black growers own just 2% of that land. The vast majority of them live in the South, according to census data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Georgia was once a leader in the oyster canning business, but the last cannery closed in the 1960s.

In the past few years, however, a group of people have helped revive the Georgia oyster — through farming. 

André Gallant, author of A High Low Tide: The Revival of a Southern Oysterjoined us with more on the past, present and future of Georgia's oyster industry.

Bryan Rackely, co-owner of Kimball House — a Decatur restaurant where Georgia oysters are now on the menu —  also joined the conversation about these briny bivalves. 

Atlanta's professional women's basketball team, the Atlanta Dream, is preparing for the upcoming season. It had a successful run last year and made it to the WNBA finals with head coach Nicki Collen at the helm. She's been in the top spot since 2017.

She stopped by On Second Thought to discuss her start playing tennis, her passion for sports and her dreams of bringing a championship to Atlanta.

The People Speak! / Flickr

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and concerns around mental health are a big issue in our society at large — and on college campuses.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among college students, and national data indicates that the problem is not unique.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. College students today increasingly report being affected by depression and anxiety. Barry Schreier, director of the University Counseling Service at the University of Iowa and communications committee chair for the Association of University and College Counseling Center Directors, joined On Second Thought to explain the national scope of this problem and told us why exactly students are more stressed, depressed and anxious now than ever before.

Courtesy Max Ritter

Kishi Bashi made a name for himself with the shiny, fantastical indie pop of his first three albums. (The singer and multi-instrumentalist also made a pseudonym for himself: his stage name is a mashup of his first initial – K, for Kaoru – and last name, Ishibashi.) 

Ishibashi's newest record Omoiyari (available May 31) takes a more sober turn. From Japanese, "omoiyari" roughly translates as compassion or kindness shown toward others, which stirred in the Athens-based musician after President Trump's administration placed a travel ban on people from specific, predominantly Muslim countries.

A number of curious laws are still on the books in Georgia. We cribbed a few from idiotlaws.com, if that tells you anything. But as obscure – and seemingly silly – as they are, the law is the law. Georgia State University law professor Tanya Washington joined us with an explanation of how laws get made, and how hard they are to change.

Courtesy Peyton Fulford / Getty Images

Stock photos are often the butt of jokes for being unrealistic, generic, overused and, now, perpetuating stereotypes. A new campaign from Getty Images, Dove Beauty and GirlGaze is working to change that.

Together, they've launched #ShowUs, the largest stock photo collection created by women. Their goal? To subvert beauty stereotypes.