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Mike Kiniry



Mike Kiniry is producer of Gulf Coast Live, and co-creator and host of the WGCU podcast Three Song Stories: Biography Through Music. He first joined the WGCU team in the summer of 2003 as an intern while studying Communication at Florida Gulf Coast University. 

He became the first producer of Gulf Coast Live when the show launched in 2004, and also worked as the host of All Things Considered from 2004 to 2006, and the host of Morning Edition from 2006 to 2011. He then left public radio to work as PR Director for the Alliance for the Arts for five years, and was then Principled Communicator at the election integrity company Free & Fair for a year before returning to WGCU in October, 2017.

In the past Mike has been a bartender and cook at Liquid Café in downtown Fort Myers, a golf club fixer/seller at the Broken Niblick Golf Shop in Fort Myers, and a bookseller at Ives Book Shop in Fort Myers. He lives near downtown Fort Myers with his daughter, and their dog and two cats.

  • While the medical community continues to look for ways to help reduce the risk of dementia, researchers at University of South Florida have been studying whether interacting with certain kinds of specially designed cognitive training exercises — essentially computer games — can reduce the risk of dementia. We learn about another USF study called Active Mind that is similar, but is looking for participants who do have some degree of mild cognitive impairment.
  • In March of this year, Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB1 into law — expanding the voucher program and significantly increasing taxpayer funding for private schools. The new law eliminates the current financial eligibility restrictions and allows any student who is a resident of Florida and eligible to enroll in K-12 public schools to participate. The new universal voucher program is estimated to cost $4 billion in the first year of implementation alone, according to a cost analysis by Florida Policy Institute and the Education Law Center. We get some context on the new law, and the history of how vouchers work in Florida, with Dr. Norín Dollard, Senior Policy Analyst and KIDS COUNT Director at the Florida Policy Institute; and Damaris Allen, Executive director of Coral Gables-based Families for Strong Public Schools.
  • According to a recent report from PEN America — it’s a century-old nonprofit that works to protect free expression through literature — Florida overtook Texas during the last school year for the number one spot when it comes to the number of books banned in public schools. There’s been a 33% spike in book bans nationally, and Florida now accounts for more than 40% of all documented bans. In response to these trends, PEN America just named its first-ever Florida Director, Katie Blankenship. She’ll be overseeing advocacy in defense of free expression across the state. Her office is being funded by a group of bestselling writers who have come together to fight censorship in Florida.We meet Ms. Blankenship, and learn about the work being done by what’s called The Purple Group to push back against issues like book bans. It’s a nonpartisan group of Lee County residents who believe high quality public schools that welcome all students and their families are the bedrock of our multicultural, multi-ethnic democracy.
  • Back in the mid-1960s Bill Strickland was a directionless public school student in Pittsburgh who didn’t really see a path for success for him or his fellow lower class, minority student friends. Then, one day he walked past a classroom and saw a teacher sitting at a pottery wheel — and that moment, and how he responded to it, changed his life. And since then has changed the lives of countless young people not only in Pittsburgh, but around the country and beyond. Manchester Bidwell Corporation (MBC) takes seemingly disparate elements — adult career training, youth arts education, jazz presentation and botanical sales (they grow orchids) — and combines them into a program with a proven record of positively changing the lives of underserved populations. Bill has helped start an additional 13 centers, including five in Pennsylvania, 6 in other US states, 1 in Puerto Rico, and 1 in Israel.
  • We hear from Christian Kiefer, whose new novel THE HEART OF IT ALL is set in a struggling rust-belt town in Ohio.
  • Kirsten Hines started out as a wildlife biologist, but pretty early on found herself drawn to telling stories with images and words about the natural world, rather than collecting data about it. Her photographs and writings have since appeared in numerous exhibitions and publications, including eight books — the latest of which is “Wild Florida: An Animal Odyssey.” It’s like a conversational field guide that explores ecological concepts like the “why” behind Florida’s animal diversity, and its blending of critters from the tropics with those from North America.
  • There’s a brand new exhibition on display on the campus of Florida Gulf Coast University called “They Were Children: Rescue as Resistance.” It brings the story of the Oeuvre de Secours Aux Enfants’ (OSE) — amazing group of everyday people who worked at great risk to themselves to rescue Jewish children in Nazi-occupied France during World War Two.
  • Memoir of an army captain in Afghanistan who returns home and does the hard work to recover from PTSD.
  • In April of 2023 a small group of southwest Floridians got together to express their concerns about what they see as growing trends toward autocracy here in Florida, and more broadly across the United States. They formally launched their nonpartisan nonprofit called Floridians for Democracy in May and since then have been working to bring people together who share similar concerns. The primary focus of their concerns are the policies and positions being put forth by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and the Republican-dominated state legislature, which they say demonstrate autocratic or authoritarian tendencies. We get an update on the work they're doing from Floridians for Democracy co-founder, Jim Nathan; and from Dave Aronberg, the elected State Attorney for 15th Judicial Circuit which includes Palm Beach County.
  • It’s becoming increasingly common for conservative political leaders in the United States — including here in Florida — to use language and put forward policies that conflate American identity with religious identity. Many are focusing on issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, and trans rights — and critics say this trend represents a rise in what’s called Christian Nationalism. Christian Nationalism is best summarized as the belief that the history and character of the United States is defined by Christianity, and that the government should take active steps to keep it that way. Our guest counts himself among its critics, and says that while supporters of Christian Nationalism portray it as a social movement, it’s actually a well-organized political movement that seeks to gain political power and to impose its vision on all of society. Rev. Paul Raushenbush is an ordained Baptist minister, and he is President and CEO of Interfaith Alliance, a national nonprofit founded in 1994 to advocate for religious freedom and pluralism in the U.S.