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. 

Growing up in Atlanta in the 1970s, Jonathan Weisman didn't think much about anti-Semitism. In fact, he didn't think much about being Jewish until 2016. That's when, as deputy editor of the Washington Bureau of The New York Times, he posted a quote from an op-ed about facism on Twitter. That tweet unleashed a torrent of anti-Semitic images, threats and other forms of cyber-stalking that shattered his complacency.


Gnats don’t read maps, but the bugs do seem hesitant to cross an unseen, geographic boundary in Georgia. Learn about the disparities north and south of the "gnat line" from Tales from the Gnat Line author and longtime state lawmaker Larry Walker.


Courtesy Daniel Parvis

Most Americans say they know at least some of their neighbors, but admit they tend to interact less with neighbors who don't belong to the same class, race or political party, according to the Pew Research Center. So, when Tania del Valle and her husband Pablo move into the fixer-upper next door to Frank and Virginia Butley's historic home, a saga of microaggressions ensues.

Those racial, generational and economic tensions play out in Native Gardens, on stage this month at Lawrenceville's Aurora Theatre. Costars Fedra Ramirez-Olivares and Carolyn Cook, who portray Tania del Valle and Virginia Butley, respectively, joined On Second Thought in studio to share more about their production and the play's real-life parallels in Gwinnett County. 


Even if you can't put your finger on it, Takénobu's music might sound familiar to you. That's because the "cinematic folk" from the classically trained Atlanta locals are frequently used on NPR shows and in video or film, including the new documentary 42 Grams.

Takénobu takes its name from cellist Nick Ogawa, who performs with his violinist (and fiancée) Kathryn Koch. The two have a new album called Conclusion coming out on May 24, and an upcoming tour with Kishi Bashi. But before they gear up for a big 2019, they joined On Second Thought to share their story.


Courtesy Alex Williamson / Teaching Tolerance

Grade school teachers reported more than 3,000 hate incidents in schools during the fall 2018 semester, a new survey from the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance program has found. Those incidents, however, often went undisciplined by school leaders – and less than a third made it into the news.

Teaching Tolerance Director Maureen Costello joined On Second Thought on the line from Montgomery, Alabama, to share more of the report's findings. 


Hate incidents are on the rise in American schools, according to a new report from the Teaching Tolerance project at the Southern Poverty Law Center. Teaching Tolerance Director Maureen Costello joined On Second Thought on the line from Montgomery, Alabama, to discuss the report's findings.


You may have heard Curtis Harding's voice before, perhaps without realizing it. That's because, for a number of years, he worked with a familiar Atlanta native: CeeLo Green. Harding sang back-up vocals for CeeLo and even co-wrote songs with the Grammy Award-winning musician, like "Grand Canyon" — which was a bonus track on CeeLo's 2010 album, The Lady Killer

After that and several other collaborations, Harding launched his solo career, applying his distinctive falsetto vocals to his own style of music, which he calls "slop 'n' soul."

 


Over his 19-year career with the Navy SEALs, Special Operations Chief Edward "Eddie" Gallagher earned high honors for valor and leadership as a medic, sniper and explosives expert. But less than a year after Gallagher returned from his eighth deployment – fighting the Islamic State in Mosul, Iraq – he drew a different kind of attention from the Navy: he was charged with war crimes, among them premeditated murder. Gallagher's case goes to trial in May. He and his family have denied all charges.

When New York Times national correspondent Dave Philipps began reporting on Gallagher's case, he thought he might learn that Gallagher had suffered some kind of psychotic break as the result of numerous combat deployments over the course of nearly two decades. But what Philipps has found, through interviews and hundreds of pages of internal military documents, defied expectations. Joining on the line from Colorado Springs, Colorado, Philipps told On Second Thought that Gallagher's case reveals a Navy SEAL culture "split between loyalty and justice." 

 


Over his 19-year career with the Navy SEALs, Special Operations Chief Edward "Eddie" Gallagher earned high honors for valor and leadership as a medic, sniper and explosives expert. But less than a year after Gallagher returned from his eighth deployment – fighting the Islamic State in Mosul, Iraq – he drew a different kind of attention from the Navy: he was charged with war crimes, among them premeditated murder. Gallagher's case goes to trial in May. He and his family have denied all charges.

When New York Times national correspondent Dave Philipps began reporting on Gallagher's case, he thought he might learn that Gallagher had suffered some kind of psychotic break as the result of numerous combat deployments over the course of nearly two decades. But what Philipps has found, through interviews and hundreds of pages of internal military documents, defied expectations. Joining on the line from Colorado Springs, Colorado, Philipps told On Second Thought that Gallagher's case reveals a Navy SEAL culture "split between loyalty and justice." 


Upon first listen, you may not realize that the dreamy indie-pop music of Philadelphia-based Japanese Breakfast was inspired by grief.

Michelle Zauner, the woman behind the songs, began the project while navigating her mother's battle with cancer, and mourning her death. Both of Japanese Breakfast's albums — 2016's Psychopomp and 2017's Soft Sounds From Another Planet — were an exploration of that pain and sadness. That does not mean the albums sound morose, though.

 


Courtesy Kyanna Simone Simpson

Kyanna Simone Simpson shows no signs of stopping. The Decatur native and University of Georgia student's first Netflix series, Chambers, was just released. Her new film Ma, with Octavia Spencer, hits theaters May 31. And Oprah Winfrey told Vanity Fair she'd pick Simpson to portray her in a biopic. 

Simpson's previous credits include The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, in which she acted alongside Winfrey as the younger version of Winfrey's character, Deborah Lacks. She's also appeared as Keisha in the CW's Black Lightning.


A recent study by the American Lung Association shows the air along Georgia's coast and in the mountains is clean and unpolluted. But in the metro Atlanta area, residents should be wary of what they're breathing in.

National Senior Vice President of Public Policy Paul Billings spoke with On Second Thoughtabout what it means that five metro Atlanta counties received failing grades on air quality while the cities of Augusta and Savannah earned A's.

 


Ken Lund / Flickr

Following a recent visit to the border with Mexico, President Donald Trump said the United States is "full."

"Can't take you anymore," Trump said. "I'm sorry. Can't happen, so turn around. That's the way it is."

Fact checkers were quick to counter that declaration. They cited an aging and shrinking workforce, as well as America's slowing population growth, which is now at its lowest level since 1937. And cities like Atlanta and Macon are nowhere near capacity, according to Tim Keane and Josh Rogers. 


Understanding what southern ladies really mean has nothing to do with accents. That's what author Helen Ellis wants people who aren't from the South to understand. The author stopped by On Second Thought to talk about her new book, "Southern Lady Code." 

Ellis says the title refers to the, “technique by which, if you don't have something nice to say, you say something not-so-nice in a nice way.”  


mwanasimba / Wikimedia Commons

Global temperatures are on track to rise 3-5 degrees by the year 2100, according to the United Nations Meteorological Organization. That level of climate change is anticipated to negatively impact every aspect of human life — from health to agriculture to the economy.

The last time humans had to adapt to the changing environment on a global scale was hundreds of thousands of years ago, when homo erectus lived in Africa. An international team of geologists and anthropologists, among them Dan Deocampo of Georgia State University, has been studying that period in hopes we might learn from our ancient ancestors about surviving climate change.


An estimated one million people thronged to Atlanta for the 2019 Super Bowl. When the opposing teams and visiting fans returned home, a series of murals depicting Atlanta's civil rights and social justice journey stayed behind. 

Among the 11 artists who painted murals for the WonderRoot "Off The Wall" initiative surrounding the big game is renowned artist Gilbert Young. His iconic, 40-year old image, "He Ain't Heavy" is now installed in huge scale on the side of Capitol Gateway Apartments in Atlanta. 

Wikimedia Commons

The Peabody Awards announced winners in radio and podcasting this week, among them Type Investigations and Reveal for their "Monumental Lies" episode. After filing 175 open records requests to track public spending on Confederate memorials and organizations, reporters Brian Palmer and Seth Freed Wessler found that more than $40 million in state and federal funds have been spent on the maintenance and expansion of such monuments and sites over the past decade.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been more than 200,000 opioid-related deaths in the United States over the last two decades. Georgia has some of the nation's hardest-hit counties. White users have largely been the face of the epidemic, but the problem affects every demographic.


Leighton Rowell / GPB

Town and gown tensions are high at the University of Georgia as the end of the school year nears. Amid national conversations about the historical role of U.S. colleges and universities in slavery, community leaders and a group of faculty are calling on UGA to do more to address its own slave past.

But in a letter to the editor of UGA's student newspaperThe Red & Black, UGA President Jere Morehead said the university had "carefully considered all aspects" of a memorial constructed in 2018 to recognize and honor the legacy of individuals who were enslaved in Athens during the 19th Century.


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Chadwick Boseman, Oprah Winfrey and Spike Lee are all graduates of historically black colleges and universities. For more than a century, HBCUs provided the foundation for countless dynamic and influential leaders. Now, some academic finance experts predict that a quarter of those schools could be gone within 20 years.


From the mountains to the coast to the forest, Georgia is a beautiful place for spending time outdoors.  GPB journalists are celebrating that splendor with Wild Georgia, a series of in-depth reports airing this month during Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

Ross Terrell and Emily Jones are among those working on the series, and they stopped by On Second Thought to take their stories a little deeper.  Ross talked about Atlanta’s lush tree canopy, and Emily explained how sharks sense the world around them.

 


Women in Georgia are more likely to die from pregnancy-related and associated complications than in Uzbekistan. The state allocated $2 million to help reduce that number in this year's health budget.

On Second Thought spoke with Wanda Irving, whose daughter, Shalon, died after giving birth in metro Atlanta, and Breanna Lipscomb, U.S. maternal health campaign manager for The Center For Reproductive Rights, about efforts to improve maternal health outcomes in Georgia and across the nation.


Casimir Pulaski was born in Poland in 1745. After proving his military mastery in independence struggles across Europe, Pulaski moved to Boston in 1777. He formed the colonists' first legion on horseback, became Brigadier General and saved George Washington's retreating troops at Brandywine. Pulaski was later mortally wounded, and died, amid the 1779 Siege of Savannah. But for centuries, his final resting place remained a mystery.

Earlier this month, the Smithsonian Channel revealed not only that the "father of the American cavalry" was indeed buried in Savannah – but also that Pulaski may biologically been intersex. Both breakthroughs came after decades of research by a team based in Georgia with help from colleagues across the United States, Poland and Canada.


(AP Photo/Library of Congress)

Casimir Pulaski was born in Poland in 1745. After proving his military mastery in independence struggles across Europe, Pulaski moved to Boston in 1777. He formed the colonists' first legion on horseback, became Brigadier General and saved George Washington's retreating troops at Brandywine. Pulaski was later mortally wounded, and died, amid the 1779 Siege of Savannah. But for centuries, his final resting place remained a mystery.

Earlier this month, the Smithsonian Channel revealed not only that the "father of the American cavalry" was indeed buried in Savannah – but also that Pulaski may biologically have been intersex. Both breakthroughs came after decades of research by a team based in Georgia with help from colleagues across the United States, Poland and Canada.


As peak tornado season bears down on the Southeast, On Second Thought is looking at who gets aid after disasters. A recent NPR investigation found that federal emergency has been a political football played by both parties. Research from Carnegie Mellon and other sources shows that how much people affected by disasters get depennds on how your district votes.

Robert Benincasa is a producer for NPR Investigations. He researched and reported on the thousands of disaster buyouts Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA didn't want people to see.


Rogelio V. Solis / AP Images

As peak tornado season bears down on the Southeast, On Second Thought is looking at who gets aid after disasters. A recent NPR investigation found federal emergency money has been a political football for both parties. Research from Carnegie Mellon and other sources shows how much people affected by disasters get can depend on how their districts vote.

Robert Benincasa is a producer for NPR Investigations. He researched and reported on the thousands of disaster buyouts Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA didn't want people to see.


In the late 19th Century, Lulu Hurst transfixed audiences as the "Georgia Wonder." An electrical storm supposedly gave the teenager supernatural powers to catapult grown men from chairs. She performed on stages from Cedartown, Georgia, to the East Coast and Midwest.

Hurst appeared in front of members of congress and government scientists. She was tested by Alexander Graham Bell, the faculty at Mercer University and the Medical College of Georgia - all baffled by mysterious force of the "electric maid."

 


Courtesy of ProPublica

It's Tax Day. Unless you got an extension, you have until midnight to get all your tax forms filled out and filed. And then hope that you don't get audited. But if you live in the South, your chances of being audited are apparently greater. ProPublica published a map showing where the highest rates of IRS audits happen, and that distinction belongs to southern rural areas.

Beacon Press

Research has shown students do better in school when they have teachers who look like them. They also report feeling more cared for; more interested and invested in their schoolwork; and more confident in their teachers' abilities to communicate with them. But for a growing number of American schoolchildren, that's not the case – because while more than half of American public school students are not white, the vast majority of their teachers are.

That dynamic is one of many factors that has led to what University of Georgia professor Bettina Love calls the educational survival complex – a system in which educational reformers train students with test-taking skills to get them to the next grade. Instead, as Love argues in her new book We Want To Do More Than Survive, educators should infuse their approach with the "urgency of an abolitionist," teaching about racial violence and oppression as well as resistance, joy and social change.


Poker and chess are both considered professional sports. Competitive gaming is now on that list. Esports is, in fact, booming. Market watchers predict revenues to hit $1.5 billion by 2020. The gaming industry is so big that Georgia high schools got the green light to form student esports teams in 2018. 

As the definition of athletes expands, so do demands to treat gaming-related injuries. Dr. Vonda Wright is an Atlanta-based orthopedic surgeon. She's currently partnering with game developers Skillshot Media to research and treat professional gamers. Wright spoke with On Second Thought host Virginia Prescott about her efforts. 

 


Pages