John Davis

John Davis has been a full-time Reporter/Producer for WGCU since 2009. He is the local host for NPRââââ

Ortona Cemetery

16 hours ago

Following up on an old, but not forgotten tip, News-Press storyteller Amy Bennett Williams recently traveled to the historic Ortona Cemetery in rural Glades County in search of artifacts and details of an alleged and obscure murder mystery.  While her search didn’t exactly lead Williams to what she was looking for, the small cemetery, which includes some graves dating back 100 years, proved to be a treasure trove of touchstones covering a broad spectrum of Southwest Florida’s rich history from Seminole tribesmen to hurricanes.

Dancers take the stage June 24 at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre for a festival of dance performances in honor of the late Jeanne Bochette who died in February at the age of 89.  Bochette was a pioneering dance instructor, entrepreneur and Grand Dame.  She founded the Dance Bochette studio in Fort Myers in 1951 and taught thousands of students in the forms of ballet, tap, modern, hip-hop, jazz and others over a teaching career that spanned seven decades.  Before opening the studio, Bochette performed with New York City Ballet and the Rockettes in the 1940s.  Bochette was also known locally for her tireless advocacy for the performing arts.  Bochette’s daughter Alyce Bochette, who is the director of Dance Bochette, joins us for a preview this Sunday’s upcoming tribute festival as we look back on the life, accomplishments and contributions of this remarkable woman.

The Fort Myers-based rock and roll band The Electric Mud brings their self-described “punishing rhythm section,” “dizzying twin guitars,” and “gritty, soulful vocal” sound to our airwaves with a live in-studio performance.  The band, which formed in 2013, performs prolifically at venues around Southwest Florida and they’re about to launch their first nationwide tour!  We’ll be joined in studio by band members Peter Kolter (Guitar/Vocals), Constantine Grim (Guitar), Tommy Scott (Bass) and Pierson Whicker (Drums) to hear them perform live and to learn all about their musical backgrounds, influences and songwriting style.

Father's Day ENCORE

Jun 15, 2018

As Sunday marks Father’s Day, and just before the official start of summer, this week’s encore essay from News-Press storyteller Amy Bennett Williams brings us a childhood remembrance of time spent with her own father on Midwest summer days and the lessons he taught her, including how to master the skill of rail walking.

On today’s encore edition of “Gulf Coast Live!” we listen back to a live in-studio performance from members of the Southwest Florida-based band Soulixer.  The band performs prolifically at venues throughout the region and delivers a high-energy mix of soul/funk/rock music with influences including The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sublime, Mos Def, James Brown and Cage The Elephant.  We’ll feature music and conversation with band members Cayce Dillard (drums), Thomas O'Brien (guitar & vocals) and Mason Reinek (bass).

Plus, we listen back to our May conversation with award-winning and multi-faceted guitarist John Housley upon the release of his new album of Nuevo Flamenco music “The Heart’s Furnace.”  Housley has been playing and teaching guitar since his early teen years.  He also founded the Ann Arbor Academy of Music, which averaged some 400 students per week under his leadership.  In 1995, he joined the multi-platinum winning southern rock band Blackfoot before eventually making his way back to Southwest Florida where he teaches and plays with the highly popular modern rock band A200. However, this represents just one aspect of Housley’s musical talents and interests.  In addition to writing and producing music, he’s repertoire spans the history of the guitar with an emphasis on the Spanish guitar style exemplified by  composers such as Tarrega, Villa Lobos, Sor, and Carcassi along with classical composers such as Bach, and Debussy.  We’ll explore Housley’s life in music and hear selections from his new album of classic guitar songs in the Nuevo Flamenco style.

Florida’s August 28 primary election is now less than three months away and things are heating up on the campaign trail for candidates in the Republican and Democratic races for the governor’s office.  Democratic candidates including former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Orlando businessman Chris King and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine faced off in their third debate on Monday.  Billionaire and Palm Beach County real estate tycoon Jeff Greene officially filed paper work in early June to run for Governor as a Democrat as well.  Despite Greene’s late entry and his absence from the debate stage so far, his substantial wealth has the potential to shake up the primary.  Greene spent $30 million of his own money back in 2010 in a failed U.S. Senate bid. 

The second annual “Sounds of Summer” concert series returns to the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center in downtown Fort Myers.  The series kicks off June 8 with music from emerging singer/songwriter/guitarist Emma Arnold of Naples.  At just 17-years-old, the award-winning Arnold is already making a name for herself in the Southwest Florida music scene with her soulful voice and original songs.  She joins us in studio for a live performance.  Plus, Friday’s concert will also feature the rock and blues of Fort Myers musician and vocal powerhouse Kate Skales.  Her debut EP, “Ready for Me” was just released in April.  Skales also joins us, along with fellow band-member, Caleb Neff, for a live in studio performance.


Jun 1, 2018

The return of the summer rainy season has provided a reprieve from dangerous drought conditions, but also heralds the return of thick swarms of mosquitos.  In an effort to combat the blood-sucking insects, on June 2, Hillsborough County Mosquito Control officials will be giving residents free gambusia to place in pools, retention ponds and fountains.  Also known as “mosquito fish,” the gambusia are voracious cons

Live Music from Soulixer

May 30, 2018

The Southwest Florida-based band Soulixer joins us for a live in-studio performance.  The band performs prolifically at venues throughout the region and delivers a high-energy mix of soul/funk/rock music with influences including The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sublime, Mos Def, James Brown and Cage The Elephant.  We’ll feature music and conversation with band members Cayce Dillard (drums), Thomas O'Brien (guitar & vocals) and Mason Reinek (bass).

The third-annual BabeFest returns to Fort Myers, June 1.  The music festival celebrates diversity in the arts with a full line up of women-focused or women-fronted rock bands.  The event is organized by the non-profit Love Your Rebellion and is designed to encompass and expand upon organization’s mission to "empower marginalized groups through music, literature, and art.”  We’ll learn more about BabeFest and Love Your Rebellion from founder and local musician Angela Page.  We’ll also feature music and conversation with members of this year’s headliner, The Txlips.  This Atlanta-based all-black women rock band brings a high-energy sound blending funk, rap and rock.

Eastwood ENCORE

May 25, 2018

In this week’s encore essay from News-Press storyteller Amy Bennett Williams, she recalls several months spent caring for a rather charismatic specimen from Southwest Florida’s avian community and the mixed emotions that come with the transition from a helpless fledgling into a self-sufficient adult slowly drawn back to his wild roots.

Young actors with the Florida Repertory Theatre’s Conservatory Program are currently performing “Heathers: The Musical.”  The Off-Broadway rock musical is based on the 1988 cult-classic black comedy film, “Heathers,” featuring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater and Shannen Doherty.  The show delivers a satirical take on issues relatable to young people including the often-malicious social hierarchies that can dominate high school life, bullying, violence and empathy.

"Petrichor" ENCORE

May 18, 2018

In consideration of the factors that create one’s sense of place, it can be easy to overlook one powerful characteristic:  the smells.  In this week’s encore essay, News-Press storyteller Amy Bennett Williams takes us on an olfactory journey through some of the common and not-so-common scents associated with the Southwest Florida experience including her favorite; a smell named by geologists in the 1960s, and one that Southwest Florida residents have certainly been experiencing in recent days with the return of summer rain storms.

This segment originally aired on March 22, 2018.

We listen back to our conversation with members of the Southwest Florida-based band Suwannee Swing Saloon

Back in March, the group transformed WGCU’s studio into a western swing revival with a live performance of the dynamic string band’s mix of western swing, classic country, blues and jazz tunes. The group made its debut at the Marco Island Center for the Arts, and it performed at WGCU ahead of making its Fort Myers debut. 

Southwest Florida’s recent bout of dry windy weather has left vegetation and many creek beds dry and created dangerous drought conditions for fire crews as they continue battling several wildfires still burning in the Big Cypress National Preserve.  However, a reprieve could be on the way as weather forecasters are calling for widespread showers and thunderstorms beginning next week.  In anticipation of the return of our subtropical summer rainy season, this week’s encore essay from News-Press storyteller Amy Bennett Williams has her pondering the great variety of rainstorms in our region a