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. 

(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. 

 


The Masters begins tomorrow at the legendary Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. It's among professional golf's most prestigious tournaments, bringing in big names like Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.

Last week, the golf course made history, hosting its first women's tournament: the Augusta National Women's Amateur. On Second Thought spoke with Bob Harig, senior golf writer for ESPN who joined the program from Augusta, about what it took to get women on the famous green. Anya Alvarez, former Ladies Professional Golf Association player and women's sports journalist, also joined the conversation from New York.

 


For more than three decades, Erma Bombeck drew laughs from her life as a suburban mom. Bombeck's syndicated newspaper column reached some 30 million readers. She was also a best-selling author and regular on Good Morning America.

Although it was less well known, Bombeck also campaigned across the country for the Equal Rights Amendment — just one of the things uncovered in a play about the famous columnist, called Erma Bombeck: At Wit's End.


The University of Tennessee is making a big promise: Starting in 2020, the system will offer free tuition to qualifying low-income students enrolling at its Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin campuses.

The program, called UT Promise, is the first of its kind among public universities in the South. UT Interim President Randy Boyd, a first-generation college graduate himself, is the architect of the program. Boyd joined On Second Thought from WUOT in Knoxville to explain why Tennessee is making this promise, how the university will fund it and how other Southern states could follow suit. 

 


NOAA

In 2017, thousands evacuated southeast Texas in preparation for Hurricane Harvey. As they sped down the highway away from the storm, one car drove toward it. Inside it was Russell Lewis.

Officially, Lewis is NPR's Southern Bureau chief, but he's also known as the go-to guy on NPR's "go team," which covers earthquakes, fires, flood and other disasters; both natural and man-made. Lewis is often the first member of the team on a plane and on the ground, setting up logistics, drivers, translators and supplies in places where systems have broken down, so NPR can bring those events to listeners.


Jared Rodriguez / Truthout / Flickr

The University of Tennessee is making a big promise: Starting in 2020, the system will offer free tuition to qualifying low-income students enrolling at its Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin campuses.

The program, called UT Promise, is the first of its kind among public universities in the South. UT Interim President Randy Boyd, a first-generation college graduate himself, is the architect of the program. Boyd joined On Second Thought from WUOT in Knoxville to explain why Tennessee is making this promise, how the university will fund it and how other Southern states could follow suit. 


The Patients First Act is now Georgia law. It allows Gov. Brian Kemp’s office to request a Medicaid waiver from the federal government. Both proponents and opponents of the move are making it clear a waiver isn’t the same as full Medicaid expansion, which is what then-President Obama envisioned for states when crafting the Affordable Care Act.

Democrats say a waiver doesn’t go far enough while some conservatives say even a partial expansion is too costly.


BagoGames / Flickr

The Final Four is set, baseball season is on and for the first time ever, there's a Master's tournament for women. In the world of eSports, hundreds of fans and players gather Saturday at Georgia State University for the PantherLAN tournament.

Georgia State students Aimee Vu and Praful Gade will be there. Vu, a volunteer coordinator, and Gade, a varsity team player, along with esports program coordinator Lucas Bailey, joined "On Second Thought" with the latest on collegiate esports in Georgia.


The Final Four is set. Baseball season is on, and, for the first time ever, there's a Masters tournament for women. In the world of esports, hundreds of fans and players gather Saturday at Georgia State University for the PantherLAN tournament.

Georgia State students Aimee Vu and Praful Gade will be there. Vu and Gade, along with esports program coordinator Lucas Bailey, joined "On Second Thought" with the latest on collegiate esports in Georgia.


By 2050, the world's population is expected to reach 9.8 billion people. According to a report by the United Nations, nearly 70% of them are projected to live in urban areas. If current patterns hold, those who flock to the megacities of the future will face issues with affordable housing and increased hours in traffic. The impact on low-income pepole and the environment will be especially acute. 

 

National Geographic's special edition issue on the future of cities explores how planners, innovators and policymakers will cope with the influx. Rob Kunzig, the magazine's senior environment editor, visited cities across the world, including Atlanta and Duluth. He wrote about his findings in a feature called "Rethinking Cities." Kunzig joined On Second Thought from NPR in Washington with more on the future of urban life.


National Geographic

By 2050, the world's population is expected to reach 9.8 billion people. According to a report by the United Nations, nearly 70% of them are projected to live in urban areas. 

Sine Die is over and so is the 2019 session of the Georgia General Assembly. Lawmakers considered almost a hundred bills over a period of 14 hours on Tuesday. GPB politics reporter Stephen Fowler was there for the whole 40 days of the session, and he gave continuing updates to On Second Thought listeners throughout those weeks. Lawmakers capitol correspondent Donna Lowry provided ongoing coverage for GPB television viewers. They both stopped by the show after Sine Die to recap the closing hours of the session.


Today's show featured conversations on racial discrimination in Airbnb bookings and a new book focusing on the strength and spirit of boyhood.

The NAACP is partnering with Airbnb to prevent user bias on the home rental platform. The organization also wants to promote Airbnb as an economic opportunity in communities of color in Atlanta. GPB reporter Ross Terrell followed the story and joined On Second Thought to discuss the partnership.


Today's show featured conversations on disaster relief for Georgia communities, a new release from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and a recap of bills moving through the state legislature.

Since Hurricane Michael, On Second Thought has heard from Georgia farmers whose crops were devastated by the storm. Their 2018 farm loans are coming due and yet the promised federal disaster funds they need to balance their books isn't here. Sen. David Perdue joined On Second Thought to provide an update on these funds.


Leighton Rowell / GPB

As Women's History Month draws to a close, On Second Thought celebrates women working for change around the world. Dining for Women, Peace is Loud and the Association of Junior Leagues International joined with Georgia Public Broadcasting for a panel called "Women as Agents of Change."

 

On Second Thought host Virginia Prescott spoke with filmmaker Abigail E. Disney, Razia Jan from the organization Razia's Ray of Hope and Elvia Raquec from Women's Justice Initiative.

 


Today's show featured interviews with a Georgia film critic and two photographers discussing a new exhibit at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.

Jackie K. Cooper is a retiree who's practiced law, served in the U.S. Air Force and written seven books. The 77-year-old can now add another title to his enviable resume: overnight YouTube sensation. Cooper has reviewed movies, books and television shows on his YouTube page for the past 12 years.


Today's show featured conversations on parental incarceration and the Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon, along with a new entry in our "Main Ingredient" series.

The Atlanta-based nonprofit Foreverfamily helps strengthen the bonds between incarcerated parents and their children through educational programming and visitation. Sandra Barnhill is the founder and national president of the organization. She joined "On Second Thought" to discuss how Foreverfamily helps parents and kids foster relationships inside and outside of prison.


More than a half a million Americans are homeless. In metro Atlanta, more than 3,000 people live on the streets, in shelters and in cars.

A new traveling museum uses stories, photos and virtual reality to give visitors a sense of what it's like to be homeless. It's called Dignity Museum, and the traveling museum shares the stories of those who are often forgotten. 

 


James A.W. Dawson

The $706 million project to dredge 32 miles of the Savannah River aims to make room for super-sized freighters from the Panama Canal. It could also make room for two waterborne species: the shortnose sturgeon and the Atlantic sturgeon.


Lawmakers have only six legislative days left to debate and pass bills that could change policies all over the state. This week brought continued discussion about the potential Atlanta airport takeover and intense debate over women's reproductive rights.  GPB politics reporter Stephen Fowler joined "On Second Thought" to discuss this week in Georgia politics.


State officials say more than 100,000 service members from Georgia were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan between 2001 and 2012. Nationally, about 20 percent of veterans coming back from those conflicts have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and traumatic brain injuries. Alchemy Sky Foundation is an Atlanta organization that helps people heal through music. It recently worked with a group of metro Atlanta veterans to create a song called "Adjust Fire." 


Leighton Rowell / GPB

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, domestic violence and sexual assault are the leading causes of injuries for young women and girls over the age of 15 in Georgia.  To understand why, we spoke with Michelle White, who is a child and youth project manager for the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She explained how to identify and prevent teen dating violence as well as why teens are less likely to report it. White also described the characteristics of healthy relationships. 


It takes about a decade to grow a productive pecan tree, but only a matter of minutes to take one down. Five months after the storm, a University of Georgia specialist estimates that Hurricane Michael left 75 percent of pecan crops unviable in several south Georgia counties. Combined losses in the state's agricultural sector run around $2.5 billion. 


It's hard enough to eat well and stay in shape, but, in several parts of Georgia, residents don't even have access to nutritious foods.  The Georgia Farmers Market Association is trying to bring awareness to the issue and help overcome barriers to access. Its initiatives connect small growers with communities that don't have good options to buy fresh, high-quality meat and produce. 


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