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 Monday's show:

  • State Attorney Candidate Wes White
  • First Coast Success Profiles David Hicks
  • JDRF One Walk
  • Sports Wrap Up with Cole Pepper

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.

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First Coast Connect
1:51 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

03/27/15: On The Go Live From The Generation W Leadership Conference

First Coast Connect host Melissa Ross (l) speaks with Generation W founder Donna Orender (r) during the 2015 Generation W Women's Leadership Conference.
Credit Shannon LeDuke / WJCT

 We broadcast live from the 2015 Generation W Women's Leadership Conference. Generation W founder Donna Orender joins us to discuss how the conference began and some of its noteworthy guest speakers.

We also look at the week's biggest news stories with our media roundtable. Topics include the mayoral and sheriff's elections, and the Jacksonville City Council rejecting a pension reform deal seven years in the making.

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12:06 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Former NFL Star Jason Peter Tells Riveting Tale of Addiction in 'Hero of the Underground'

Former NFL first-round draft pick Jason Peter is the author of the NYT bestseller 'Hero of the Underground.'
Credit FSCJ / Facebook

He was a college football star at the University of Nebraska.

Then Jason Peter went on to become an NFL first-round draft pick, playing defensive end for the Carolina Panthers for four seasons.

Peter was also an addict, though, and it all started with painkillers to treat injuries he suffered on the field.

"I remember the first time I was given some pills, maybe four or six of them," he said on First Coast Connect. "And I liked the way they made me feel."

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First Coast Connect
11:37 am
Thu March 26, 2015

03/26/15: Year Of The River; Author Jason Peter; Floirda Ballet; Kerry Speckman

The Year of the River is the theme behind this year's Cultural Fusion collaborative bringing together over 50 institutions to raise awareness of the St. Johns River as the “cultural current” of the city. We speak with Jeff Smith, Cultural Fusion Administrator, Hope McNath, Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens Director, Lisa Rinaman, St. Johns Riverkeeper, and studio artist Sarah Crooks Flaire.

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First Coast Connect
10:57 am
Wed March 25, 2015

03/25/15: Election Results; Fresh Ministries; 'Friends, A Tribute To Dolly Parton And Kenny Rogers'

Incumbent Democratic Mayor Alvin Brown (l) faces off against Republican Lenny Curry (r) in the May general election

We speak with Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown and Lenny Curry as they head to the general election in May. We also discuss the results of Tuesday's unitary election with A.G. Gancarski, Folio Weekly and Florida Politics columnist, and Dr. Michael Binder, UNF assistant professor of political science.

Dr. Robert Lee, founder and CEO of Fresh Ministries, joins us with news about their aquaponics project in this week's Going Green segment.

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3:08 pm
Mon March 23, 2015

FCC Recap: Incumbent Mayoral Candidate Alvin Brown

Incumbent Democratic Mayoral Candidate Alvin Brown
Credit Mayor Alvin Brown / Facebook

Facing strong challenges in the March 24 unitary election this week, incumbent Mayor Alvin Brown says he's confident— and that he's fulfilled the campaign promises from four years ago that made him a come-from-behind winner in Jacksonville's 2011 mayoral race.

"I made a promise that I would streamline government, that we would live within our means, put Jacksonville back to work, and close the education gap," said Brown, appearing on First Coast Connect.

"I think the key is keeping your promise."

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First Coast Connect
11:25 am
Mon March 23, 2015

03/23/15: Mayor Alvin Brown; St. Augustine On C-Span; MOCA 'Project Atrium' Exhibit; Cole Pepper

Mayor Alvin Brown
Credit Mayor Alvin Brown / Facebook

We speak with incumbent Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown the day before Election Day 2015.

Debbie Lamb, Coordinating Producer for the C-Span Cities Tour, about their stop in St. Augustine this week. A C-Span crew will be producing segments focused on the city's history and literature that will air on C-Span's Book TV and American History TV in April.

We get a preview of MOCA Jacksonville's latest "Project Atrium" exhibit spotlighting the work of German artist Angela Glajcar from MOCA Assistant Curator Jaime DeSimone and Communications Director Denise Reagan.

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First Coast Connect
11:22 am
Fri March 20, 2015

03/20/15: Media Roundtable; Orange Park Performing Ats Academy; 'A Movement Of Movement'

We discuss the week's biggest news with our roundtable of local journalists: Mark Woods, Florida Times-Union columnist; Fred Matthews, Examiner blogger; A.G. Gancarski, Folio Weekly and Florida Politics columnist; and WJCT business analyst John Burr.

Topics include this week's mayoral and sheriff's debates, and the upcoming 2015 election.

We also speak with Rev. Dr. Alesia Ford-Burse, the driving force behind the Orange Park Performing Arts Academy charter school in Clay County, about the school's first year.

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First Coast Connect
12:09 pm
Thu March 19, 2015

03/19/15: Omega Allen; WJCT CEO Michael Boylan; Generation W; GastroFest; Kerry Speckman

WJCT News Director Jessica Palombo speaking with Omega Allen.
Credit Shannon LeDuke / WJCT

We speak with independent Jacksonville mayoral candidate Omega Allen.

WJCT President and CEO Michael Boylan joins us with news about everything going on at this station, including a new Ken Burns documentary airing on WJCT TV.

We also speak with Generation W founder Donna Orender and Rebecca Sinclair, senior vice president and chief human resources officer with Bi-Lo Holdings, about next week's Generation W women's leadership conference.

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First Coast Connect
10:53 am
Wed March 18, 2015

03/18/15: Bill Bishop; Jacksonville History Museum; 'Roadside Survival'; Winner Of WJCT's The Square

Bill Bishop
Credit Patrick Donges / WJCT

We speak with Republican Jacksonville mayoral candidate and City Councilman Bill Bishop.

Sherry JHill of the Jacksonville Museum and Cultural Center, a volunteer group that is about to open the first of several planned museum exhibits all about Jacksonville. The first exhibit will feature an interactive map of public art and gardens around the First Coast.

Walt Brinker, volunteer highway rescuer and author of the book "Roadside Survival: Low-Tech Solutions to Automobile Breakdowns", joins us with tips on how drivers can avoid getting stranded during spring break travels.

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First Coast Connect
4:10 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

03/17/15: Lenny Curry; Revolutionary War Marker; NASA And Civil Rights; Blessings In A Backpack

Lenny Curry
Credit Republican Party of Florida

We speak with Jacksonville mayoral candidate, businessman and former Florida Republican Party chairman Lenny Curry.

David Ramseur and Dennis Carpenter of the Jacksonville chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution join us to discuss the new Florida historical marker in Jacksonville commemorating the 1777 Revolutionary War Battle of Thomas Creek.

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First Coast Connect
12:38 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

03/16/15: Local Faith Leaders On ISIS; 'Finding Pluck'; Cole Pepper

Faith leaders on the First Coast are speaking out about the brutality and extremism of the organization that calls itself Islamic State. Iraqi government forces and allied militias have had some success pushing ISIS back out of the city of Tikrit but the group continues gaining territory elsewhere. Here in the U.S., outrage and alarm over the group’s butchery and persecution of those they term “infidels” continues to grow. We speak with Dr. Parvez Ahmed of the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida and Father Nicholas Louh of St. John the Divine Greek Orthodox Church.

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First Coast Connect
11:21 am
Fri March 13, 2015

03/13/15: Media Roundtable Week In Review; St. Patrick's Day Street Party

We discuss the week's biggest news stories with our roundtable of local journalists: Larry Hannan, Florida Times-Union reporter; Fred Matthews, Examiner blogger; Jeff Billman, outgoing Folio Weekly editor; and Tim Gibbons, Jacksonville Business Journal editor.

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First Coast Connect
11:48 am
Thu March 12, 2015

03/12/15: Transitioning To Sustainable Energy; Friday Musicale; Kerry Speckman

An aerial view of a solar power system in the Industrial Area of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida in 2009.
Credit Troy Cryder / NASA

We speak with Hazel Henderson, founder and president of the Ethical Markets Media, an St. Johns County based independent media company focusing on sustainability news. Henderson is also an evolutionary economist, author and consultant on sustainable development. She joins us to discuss Florida and climate change, as well as her organization's Green Transition Scoreboard, which tracks private investment in green technologies.

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First Coast Connect
2:24 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

03/11/15: Jacksonville's Pension Issues; Going Green; The Blood Alliance

Jacksonville City Council President Clay Yarborough delayed a final vote on pension reform legislation that was set for this week over what he says are new concerns that have recently surfaced about the deal. What to do about Jacksonville’s mounting pension debt has become a pressing financial problem and one that is playing a role in the city’s mayor’s race. We discuss Jacksonville’s pension issues with UNF president John Delaney and UNF criminologist Dr. Mick Hallett.

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First Coast Connect
10:52 am
Tue March 10, 2015

03/10/15: LGBT Leadership PAC; Autism Symposium; Largest Speed Networking World Record Attempt

LGBT Leadership PAC vice chairman Jimmy Midyette
Credit Shannon LeDuke / WJCT

The issue of LGBT equality has emerged as one of the issues playing a role in Jacksonville’s mayor and City Council races. The recently formed LGBT Leadership political action committee has endorsed candidates who say they are in favor of updating the city’s human rights ordinance to cover LGBT citizens. We speak with PAC vice chairman and Jacksonville attorney Jimmy Midyette.

We get a preview of this week’s seventh annual Autism Symposium from Dr. Bryan King and Dr. Raphael Bernier of the Seattle Children’s Autism Center and Autism Symposium program manager Jackie Bargas.

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