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 Friday's show:

  • Media Roundtable Week in Review
  • Aging True
  • Jaxtoberfest

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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.

We broadcast live from the Pirate & Treasure Museum in downtown St. Augustine to mark the city's 450th Commemoration this week.

Police records show there are around 1,300 unsolved murders in Jacksonville dating back to 1970. The city has roughly the same number of unsolved murders as the entire state of Colorado. We discuss efforts to change investigation procedures and offer more support to victims' families. WJCT reporter Lindsey Kilbride, Project Cold Case executive director Ryan Backmann and JSO head of investigations Chief Tom Hackney join us.

The Central Florida Water Initiative has put forward a plan to withdraw hundreds of millions of gallons of water from the St. Johns River to supply development in the Orlando area. This plan is being fiercely opposed by officials here in Jacksonville, including Mayor Lenny Curry's administration and the St. Johns Riverkeeper. We discuss this battle over water with Brian Teeple, Executive Director of the Northeast Florida Regional Council.

There are more than 18,000 uninsured children in Duval County. Many of these children qualify for low-cost health insurance through the Florida KidCare program, but they’re not enrolled because their parents simply don’t know about it.

In July 2014, the National League of Cities selected Jacksonville as one of eight cities across the US to receive a grant to address this problem.

The Jacksonville Children’s Commission and City of Jacksonville are leading the charge to implement the “Cover Jacksonville” campaign to bridge the gap for the uninsured.

We speak with Cheryl Townsend, Project Director for Cover Jacksonville.

On Wednesday, a former employee of Roanoke station WDBJ named Vester Lee Flanagan shot dead 24-year-old reporter Alison Parker and 27-year-old cameraman Adam Ward, while Parker was live on the air. We discuss this tragedy and how newsrooms handle events like this with Bob Ellis, General Manager of WJXT Channel 4, and David Luckin, WJCT Music Director and 30 year broadcast veteran.

Avid Life Media, the parent company of the recently hacked extramarital affairs website Ashley Madison, announced this week it is offering a bounty for information regarding Impact Team, the group behind the attack. We discuss the legal and technological impacts of the hacking and release of users' information with Lawrence Datz, Jacksonville family law attorney, and Ray Hollister, WJCT Digital Content Editor and Deemable Tech host.

Florida legislators dissolved their two­-week special session Friday without agreeing on a update to the state's congressional district map.They were ordered to redraw the district lines by the State Supreme Court earlier this year, but couldn’t come to terms. The complicated task of redrawing the maps is now set to go to the courts. We discuss the issue with Mike Binder, professor of political science at UNF.

Jacksonville City Council President Greg Anderson joins us to discuss current issues facing the council, including public safety funding, the city's infrastructure and more.

We discuss the week's top news stories with our roundtable local journalists: Larry Hannan, Florida Times-Union reporter; Matt Shaw, Folio Weekly editor; and WJCT analyst John Burr.

Last year, Florida legalized Charlotte's Web, a low-THC oil made from cannabis for some medical uses. The state is still deciding which nurseries will be awarded a license to grow and distribute the drug. Two nurseries in Jacksonville have applied. 

Here in our area, the City Council is taking a slow and deliberate approach to regulating its growing, processing and dispensing in Jacksonville.

Billed as a unique program to help the city's at-risk youth, the One City, One Jacksonville Leadership Week is connecting 100 young men with some of the city's top political and faith leaders this week. The goal is to help them make better decisions, respect authority, and do well in school. We speak with Rev. John E. Guns, founder of Operation Save Our Sons, who organized the initiative with the City of Jacksonville.

The gaps in Florida's mental health care system are laid bare in the experiences of Sean Harriford and his family, detailed in the Florida Times-Union this week. We discuss their story and the state's treatment system with Florida Times-Union reporter Derek Gilliam, Sean's brother Jonathan Harriford, and Mental Health America of Northeast Florida director Denise Marzullo.

As parents, students and teachers prepare for the first day of classes, Duval County Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti joins us with a look at his and the district's priorities for the new school year.

We discuss the week's biggest news stories with our roundtable of local journalists: Mark Woods, Florida Times-Union columnist; Fred Matthews, Examiner blogger; Tim Gibbons, Jacksonville Business Journal editor; and Claire Goforth, Folio Weekly writer.

Topics include the Florida Legislature's special session to overhaul the state's congressional districts, the St. Johns Riverkeeper filing a lawsuit over the proposed St. Johns River deepening project, and more.

Marc Caputo, Florida reporter for POLITICO, joins us to discuss the current special session to redraw the state's Congressional district map after a Florida Supreme Court ruling found they violated anti-gerrymandering amendments. We also discuss potential challengers to Rep. Corrine Brown's seat now that her district will likely be changed.