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.

The entire WGCU News team spent much of 2018 covering two devastating harmful algal blooms; red tide in the gulf and bluegreen algae coming from Lake Okeechobee.  

On today’s show we’re changing things up a little bit. Joshua Johnson from 1A is in town so we thought we’d spend an hour getting to know him -- but not in a traditional interview style. Instead, we're producing an episode of the WGCU podcast Three Song Stories live in the Gulf Cast Live time slot so we can get to know Mr. Johnson through his selection of three songs. If you’re not familiar with the podcast, it’s produced by Mike Kiniry and Richard Chin Quee -- they call it biography through music. They bring out their guests’ personalities, and personal histories, through the unique way music connects to memory, and we all get to listen to some great music along the way.

Over the past year or so we’ve spent a lot of time talking about water on this show. From the dual harmful algal blooms that have impacted southwest Florida from Lake Okeechobee to miles offshore, to coral diseases and microplastics in the water, the sunshine state faces many challenges when it comes to water, both fresh and salt.

The United Way of Florida released its latest report on poverty in the Sunshine State last week in Tallahassee. During that press conference, the organization’s president called for more than a million dollars to help low-income families file taxes to help them recoup millions of dollars worth of tax credits that they might otherwise not have claimed.


According to the nonprofit, more than two thirds of Floridians earn less than $20 an hour, but in order to pay for basic needs in this state they should be making close to $27 per hour. Joining us to discuss efforts to get people help with their taxes is Mary Meador, she is a Tax Assistance Program Trainer and site coordinator with the United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee.


The number of oil and natural gas wells in the U.S. that use what’s known as ‘fracking’ has increased more than ten-fold in the past two decades, and now accounts for 67-percent of the country’s natural gas, and more than half of the crude oil production -- that’s according to a Florida Senate report. There are currently no wells in Florida that use the technique, because the known oil and gas formations don’t need to use fracking to get to the oil and gas. But, there are active efforts to get the practice banned in Florida before it ever does begin. Last year, Florida lawmakers ended their legislative session without writing regulations for fracking and stimulated oil-drilling techniques. And now, as the 2019 session approaches, and with support from Governor Ron DeSantis, there are several new fracking ban bills on the agenda, including one filed by Republican Representative Heather Fitzenhagen of Fort Myers. There’s also a bill proposed by Democratic Senator Bill Montford that seeks to prohibit any use of water and chemicals to fracture rocks in pursuit of oil and gas, anywhere in Florida.

While the opioid epidemic continues to grow across southwest Florida, in Lee County overdoses increased by more than 800 percent over the past four years -- that’s according to data from LeeHealth. There is a new trend in efforts to help people struggling with addiction, opioid or otherwise, called Sober Homes. A recent story in the News Press drew our attention to this trend.

The day after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, an Iowan schoolteacher conducted a lesson on discrimination she called the "Blue eyes–Brown eyes" exercise. Jane Elliott kept her third-graders separated in blue-eyed and brown-eyed groups for the rest of the day. The experience was documented by the PBS Frontline film, “A Class Divided” and has continued to ripple through our culture to this day.

Elliott joins us to reflect on her history as an anti-racism activist and diversity educator in advance of her presentation at FGCU on Monday, February 11.

Florida Gulf Coast University is hosting its Research Roadshow, an event where students and faculty showcase collaborative research efforts. Teams will discuss research on various topics like cancer, golf swings and Koreshan music.

Those involved in the Research Roadshow join us in the studio today. Billy Gunnels, the director of undergraduate scholarship department, and Deborah Wiltrout, the associate vice president of FGCU’s marketing and communications department, join us to discuss what the event will do for the university. Ivie Patino, an FGCU graduate and member of the cancer research team, also joins the conversation via telephone.

Gov. Ron DeSantis recently announced his plan to appoint Ron Bergeron, the founder and CEO of Bergeron Family of Companies, to the South Florida Water Management District Board. Bergeron is a former board member of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission where he served two five-year terms. He has also served as the Florida Wildlife Conservation Point Commissioner over the Florida Everglades. Bergeron joins us to discuss his intended appointment by Gov. DeSantis.

  Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced he's appointing Chauncey Goss to the board of the South Florida Water Management District, where he'll represent Lee, Collier, Hendry and Charlotte counties. Goss is a member of the Sanibel City Counci, and is the managing partner of Goss Practical Solutions, a budget forecasting and geopolitical analysis firm. He also serves as the treasurer of Captains for Clean Water, as a member of the executive committee of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation and as a member of the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation. Goss joins us to discuss the details of his new position.

Frances E. Jensen, MD explores and analyzes mysterious territory in her book, “The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist's Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults.” Co-written by Amy Ellis Nutt, the book explores recent research into how the adolescent brain is still developing throughout the teenage years, the important changes that are still happening, and the implications when it comes to parenting and understanding teens. Dr. Jensen joins us in the studio to explore what she's learned about the teenage brain while writing this book.

Nathan Hill is a writer that for years dabbled in non-fiction and creative short stories, but his debut literary fiction novel, “The Nix” was nationally recognized as the #1 book of the year by Audible and Entertainment Weekly. “The Nix” chronicles its main character’s, Samuel Andresen-Anderson, journey when he is reconnected with his mother who left him as a young child. Hill is the featured speaker at a Florida Gulf Coast University lecture series that seeks to analyze how digital media has influenced writers. He joins us in the studio to discuss the lecture series, his book tour and his novel. The next lecture in the series is “Everything Old is New Again: What Happens When Literature Goes Digital” (Wednesday, January 30 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in Sugden Hall, room 114)

There is an effort underway in Collier County to start a co-op for those who want solar panels. Such a co-op would help people save money when they add solar panels to their homes using the leverage of bulk buying.

We’re joined by Patricia Forkan, the chair of the Environmental Affairs Committee from the League of Women Voters of Collier County which is leading the effort. And Jody Finver, the South Florida Program Coordinator for Solar United Neighbors of Florida, the national nonprofit dedicated to representing the interests of solar owners and supporters, also joins us.

Toward the end of last year, the Camp Fire ravaged Paradise, California. The wildfire took dozens of lives and some people are still missing. A few months prior to that fire, Montana’s Glacier National Park was also ablaze. The specialists tasked to extinguish these fires, as well as inform local communities about how to prevent them, work hard to do so. But what happens when those very people ignite fires purposefully?

Jeff Becker’s impact as the digital media technology teacher at Island Coast High School has garnered him the 2018 Lee County Teacher of the Year. His career started as a school guidance counselor, and then he became a teacher when he realized it was a position that would allow for a closer relationship with his students. In Becker’s first year teaching, his students won the Best High School News Show at the Lee County Film Festival Awards.


Becker joins us in the studio to discuss his teaching career, and what it means to him to be named ‘Teacher of the Year.’