WGCU Newsroom Story Picks Of 2017

Jan 1, 2018

Members of the WGCU newsroom selected their favorite in-house stories of 2017. Below, they explain their choices. You can also listen to the stories and segments as they originally broadcasted:

Jessica Meszaros
All Things Considered Host, Reporter
"Following a crowd of confederate monument protesters in Downtown Bradenton as they marched toward counter protesters waiting for them at the Manatee County Courthouse was the most important story I covered in 2017. It was a national conversation being had in Southwest Florida. The energy from both sides of the issue was unlike anything I've encountered in my career, so far. You can hear anger, hurt, but also togetherness portrayed in the voices I recorded. "

Images from a CREMP Coral Reef Monitoring site called Admiral Reef. The large “star corals” were nearly all alive in 2007 (upper image). Rob Ruzicka said they all died by 2010 as reflected in the coral skeletons from the same site in 2014 (lower image).

John Davis
Morning Edition Host, Reporter
"When it came to broader environmental concerns with President Trump’s proposed budget, the media paid a great deal of attention to Trump’s intention of cutting 40 percent of the Environmental Protection Agency's federal enforcement office.  However, by digging through EPA documents, I was able to identify a number of Florida-specific environmental research efforts on the chopping block that are vitally important and are having a measurably positive impact on our state’s natural resources, but that no one was talking about.  This story was my favorite from 2017 because it enabled me to shine a light on an issue that didn’t seem to be on too many people’s radar."

Chad Hendrix, the founder of the Fort Myers Pink Pistols chapter, practices his aim.

Quincy Walters
"My favorite story from 2017 was about the Pink Pistols, an LGBT gun advocacy group that has a Fort Myers chapter, which was started after the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando. Based on a few phone calls after the story aired, it challenged what some public radio listeners were accustomed to hearing. And for me, it's always interesting to produce works that aberrate from the storytelling  status quo." 

A pile of debris lines an Everglades City road after Hurricane Irma.

Rachel Iacavone
Gulf Coast Live Associate Producer, Reporter
"Driving out to Everglades City, my biggest concern was having enough gas to get there and back, but what I didn't realize was how little of a concern that was compared to those of the town's residents. A week after the storm, most of the streets were still lined with heaps of debris that towered over me, as I walked past house after house where families — blank-faced in knee-high rain boots and gloves — dragged all of their destroyed belongings from their mud and mold-filled homes to the curb. It's an image — and stench — that has stuck with me long after the flood waters receded."


Julie Glenn
Gulf Coast Live Host, Interim News Director
"I interviewed an expert in evolutionary psychology, and that interview has remained one I quote most often in conversation, one I reference every time I’m making sense of some social phenomenon, and one which I feel enriched my mind immeasurably.  It’s a conversation in which I learned, and while that happens frequently on Gulf Coast Live, this conversation really stuck with me."

The night sky from Big Cypress National Preserve in January of 2017. Night sky advocates prefer sky gazers to use red lights when maneuvering around the park to limit light pollution.

Tara Calligan 
Social Media Coordinator
"I am a total nerd for all things outer space and environment. This beautifully crafted piece about Big Cypress National Preserve becoming an International Dark Sky Park by WGCU's Jessica Meszaros hits all sorts of notes for me. The scene is set up perfectly, and I can easily imagine I'm gazing at a blanket of stars in Big Cypress right alongside everyone in the story."


Anna Bejerano
Digital Media Specialist
"This touching story of Abigail the rescued pitbull warmed my heart. After being used as 'bait' in dogfights, Abigail sustained serious injuries to her face and lost an ear. You would think that would've been enough to break any creature's spirit, but not Abigail. She's a survivor! I was so inspired by the story of her recovery thanks to the cutting-edge wound care of Arthrex in Naples, and couldn't get over how cute she looked in her own custom headbands and bows. I also heard that Abigail was named American Humane's 'Hero Dog of the Year.' Thanks to the Gulf Coast Live team and Abigail's owner Victoria Frazier for sharing this story of fearless optimism and the special bond between humans and animals."