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. 

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. 


We're in the final weeks of the 2019 legislative session, and lawmakers are not going out quietly. They're debating changes to Georgia's abortion laws. House Bill 481, otherwise known as the "heartbeat" bill, already passed the House last week. Republican Rep. Ed Setzler of Acworth, the bill's sponsor, says he aims to prevent doctors from performing an abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected. 

GPB politics reporter Stephen Fowler and "Lawmakers" Capitol correspondent Donna Lowry stopped by "On Second Thought" with an update on that legislation and other bills making their way through the Gold Dome.


Pixabay

Precocious students from around the state gathered in Atlanta on March 15 for the Georgia Association of Educators State Spelling Bee. The winner could advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington in May.

We asked a few of the champion spellers to share their secrets for successful spelling. Braden Flournoy, Ananya Augustine and Abhi Kapaganty also told us their favorite words to spell. 


Dulcé Sloan Facebook

Georgia native Dulcé Sloan is a comedian, actress and correspondent on "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah." Sloan started her stage career at Meadowcreek High School in Gwinnett County. After earning her degree in theater from Brenau University in Gainesville, Sloan was convinced to try her hand at comedy in Atlanta's stand-up circuit. In 2016, she made her big break: a late-night debut on "Conan."

Sloan joined "On Second Thought" from NPR in New York for a conversation about "The Daily Show," MARTA expansion, Waffle House and Georgia politics.


Courtesy Shepherd Center

In 1973, Atlanta native James Shepherd Jr. graduated from the University of Georgia. He then backpacked through Europe and Africa before heading to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. There, in the waves off Rio’s famous beaches, Shepherd suffered a near-fatal accident. Teams of doctors in Brazil and the United States said he would never walk again.

Then, he did. After two years of intensive rehabilitation, James; his parents, Alana and Harold; and Dr. David Apple founded Shepherd Center in Atlanta. What began as a six-bed unit with a long waiting list now treats nearly 1,000 patients each year.


Caroline Ervin and Cristen Conger made a splash with their How Stuff Works podcast “Stuff Mom Never Told You.”  Now, the Georgia duo has transitioned to entrepreneurship with a company called Unladylike Media.  The two host a weekly, feminist podcast that shares their company’s name.  Caroline says it’s, “where we investigate what happens when women break the rules.” Along with the podcast, they also have a book out called, “Unladylike: A Field Guide to Smashing the Patriarchy and Claiming Your Space.” Caroline and Cristen talked feminism and journalism with “On Second Thought” host Virginia Prescott.

 

Daylight saving time is behind us, and spring is just around the corner. To celebrate, "On Second Thought" is reflecting on a Southern icon: The Quercus virginiana is Georgia's official tree. It's better known as the live oak tree and has held the title since 1937.

These majestic, ancient trees are symbols of the South in postcards, films and online travel sites. Greg Levine, co-executive director and chief program officer at Trees Atlanta, stopped by the show to explain the history and nature of live oak trees. 


Eighteen miles of I-85 could be an on-ramp to the future. The Ray C. Anderson Memorial Highway, or The Ray, stretches from West Point to LaGrange. Named for a carpet manufacturer once called the "greenest CEO," The Ray is now a proving ground for technologies that could make infrastructure safer and more ecologically sustainable. So, how would it work? We asked Allie Kelly, executive director of The Ray.


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