First Coast Connect

Weekdays 9:00 a.m.

Hosted by Melissa Ross, this one-hour call-in program features local newsmakers, civic and community leaders, arts, activities and more, along with spot news features and a weekly roundtable of local journalists.

Coming up on Thursday's show:

  • Congressional Candidate Al Lawson
  • Author and Wellness Coach Cindy Landham
  • Weekend Events with Kerry "The Specktator" Speckman

Join the conversation:

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First Coast Connect is sponsored in part by Baptist Health and North Florida TPO.

Education coverage is sponsored in part by the Chartrand Foundation.

Legal and political coverage is sponsored in part by Farah & Farah Law Firm.

Florida Creamery

We begin the hour with a discussion about the controversy surrounding Angela Wilcox, owner of the Florida Creamery ice cream shop in Avondale.

In a recent Facebook exchange with another local business owner, Wilcox vented about everything from liberals, to ISIS, to people who don’t sign paychecks.

The posts have since been taken down, but not before they went viral, and were viewed more than 30,000 times.

Dave Bruderly

The Democratic National Convention heads into day two Tuesday, following a series of rousing speeches designed to unify the party after a fractious first day.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders closed out the convention’s first night with a forceful plea for his supporters to get behind nominee Hillary Clinton.

Can the Democrats unite behind the common goal of beating Donald Trump?

Democratic National Convention

As the Democratic National Convention kicks off in Philadelphia, an unusual question is capturing the attention of cyberspecialists, Russia experts and Democratic Party leaders: Is Vladimir Putin trying to meddle in the American presidential election?

A Wikileaks release on Friday of some 20,000 stolen emails from DNC computer servers has intensified discussion of the potential role of Russian intelligence agencies in disrupting the 2016 campaign.

Media Roundtable

We discuss the week's biggest news stories with our roundtable of local journalists: Sebastian Kitchen, Florida Times-Union reporter; Claire Goforth, Folio Weekly editor; Mark Judson, UNF Spinnaker editor; and blogger Fred Matthews.

Topics include the Republic National Convention, the federal investigation into Rep. Corrine Brown, and more.

Medical Marijuana

Nearly two years after Florida lawmakers legalized it, low-THC medical marijuana could be available in the state as soon as next week.

The Florida Department of Health has granted a Tallahassee company called Trulieve the authority to process and dispense the drug.

Five other Florida companies have a license to sell cannabis for medical use.

Meanwhile, activists in Florida push for a constitutional amendment legalizing the drug for a wider array of medical treatments.

Republican National Convention

Donald Trump is officially the presidential nominee for the Republican party.

Trump claimed the nomination Tuesday night during the second day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

The second day went a little more smoothly than the first, after a series of hiccups involving everything from dissent on the floor over Trump’s nomination, to a plagiarism scandal around a speech given by Melania Trump.

Matt Corrigan, professor of political science at the University of North Florida, joins us with his thoughts about where the convention will go from here.


Akif Aydin and River City Science Academy

Akif Aydin, former president and director of the Istanbul Cultural Center of Jacksonville and one of the founders of Jacksonville’s River City Science Academy, joined us by phone to discuss the Fethullah Gulen movement, its influence on River City Science Academy, and his thoughts on the unsuccessful military takeover and the crackdown that’s jailed more than 7,000 political dissidents. 

2016 National Conventions

The 2016 Republican National Convention kicks off tonight in Cleveland.

As Donald Trump prepares to accept his party’s nomination, he’ll seek to bridge deep divisions in a GOP that’s still conflicted about his candidacy.

There are also policy disagreements between Donald Trump and his newly minted running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, on issues like trade, the Iraq War and Trump's proposed Muslim ban.

Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams joins us for the full hour to discuss recent acts of terror in the U.S. and abroad.

We also talk about issues of race, gun rights and police relations following recent police-involved shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana.

Ben Frazier

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama tried to console the families of Dallas' slain police officers and ease the tensions of a restless nation.

The president was joined on stage by a slew of officials at the interfaith service, including former President George W. Bush.

President Obama closes out his second term amid lingering divisions over race, gun violence and police relations.

Those divisions are painfully felt in Jacksonville, where a series of controversial incidents involving police officers shooting civilians have sparked vigils and protests.

Ben Frazier, spokesperson with the local chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, joins us to discuss these shootings, Black Lives Matter, police relations, and more.

Reginald Luster

Jacksonville attorney Reginald Luster is the only local candidate in the race for Florida’s open Senate seat.

Luster is joining the Democratic field of incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio’s opponents, including Rep. Patrick Murphy, Rep. Alan Grayson, and attorney and former naval officer Pam Keith.

Luster is a business owner and is also known for serving as the first, and so far only, African-American president of the local bar association.

We speak with him about his platform.

Algae Bloom

The Death of St. Augustine Priest Rene Robert

A Georgia prosecutor is seeking the death penalty in the murder of 71-year-old Father Rene Robert of St. Augustine, who was killed last April Burke County Georgia.

A deeply troubled young man, 28-year-old Steven Murray, has already confessed to the crime.

Tobert was a priest firmly opposed to the death penalty, so much so that he signed a document called a “Declaration of Life,” declaring that if he should ever himself be murdered, he did not want to see his killer be put to death.

Florida Times-Union investigative reporter Eileen Kelley examined this and other aspects of the case, including Murray's history of being sexually assaulted, in a recent article. She joins us to discuss it


Lori Boyer

Two-term Jacksonville City Council member Lori Boyer takes the reins this month as that body’s new president, promising to push an ambitious agenda for the city.

Boyer’s tenure comes amid big financial challenges for Jacksonville, as well as growing concerns about public safety and tensions between the black community and police.

Lori Boyer joins us to discuss her priorities for the next year.

Media Roundtable

We discuss the week's biggest news stories with our roundtable of local journalists: David Bauerlein, Florida Times-Union reporter; Fred Matthews, Examiner blogger; A.G. Gancarski, Florida Politics writer; and Mark Judson, UNF Spinnaker editor.

Topics include the shooting of five police officers during a protest in Dallas Thursday night, the indictment of Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Florida) by a federal grand jury over ethics violations, and more.

Medicaid Expansion

A new survey shows where Florida voters stand on the issue of expanding the Medicaid pool to the state’s low-income residents.

The Texas Medical Center’s Health Policy Institute poll finds 68 percent of Florida voters are in favor of Medicaid expansion and 71 percent would vote for a candidate in favor of Medicaid expansion.

We discuss the results with Dr. Arthur (Tim) Garson, director of the TMC Health Policy Institute.

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