First Coast Connect

Weekdays 9 a.m. Rebroadcast 8 p.m.

Hosted by Melissa Ross, First Coast Connect is an hour-long call-in program that features local newsmakers, civic and community leaders, artists and people planning a variety of events across Northeast Florida, along with a weekly roundtable of local journalists.

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

Kevin Meerschaert / WJCT

Monday on First Coast Connect we spoke with WJCT President and CEO David McGowan (1:10).

Commentator Jay Solomon spoke about the importance of civics education (28:52).  

We heard about the upcoming PBS’s American Experience documentary The Gilded Age with Nell Irving Painter, a Princeton University Edwards Professor of American History, Emerita. (32:28).

Cole Pepper brought us the latest sports news (46:38).        


Friday on First Coast Connect our weekly Media Roundtable featured Florida Times-Union reporter David Bauerlein, WJCT business analyst John Burr, Jacksonville Business Journal editor Timothy Gibbons and WJCT contributor Fred Matthews (01:13).   


Mayo Clinic Cardiologist Dr. Sabrina Phillips and Florida Blue Market President Darnell Smith talked about Friday being National Wear Red Day to raise awareness of heart disease among women (39:02).  

Mayo Clinic Dr. Aubrey Thompson and former TV anchor Donna Deegan joined us to talk about breast cancer research and the upcoming 26.2 with Donna marathon (46:00).    

Kevin Meerschaert / WJCT

Thursday on First Coast Connect we spoke with University of North Florida professor Matt Corrigan and UNF students Ryan McDonagh and Todd Higginbotham about a new UNF study on how to get more millennials to move to downtown Jacksonville (01:14).   

Our latest edition of Art Attack featured Lee Hamby of Five and Dime Theatre, Shawana Brooks with the Jacksonville Public Library, Jamario Stills from Phase 8 Theater Company, Alicia Somers, VP at Regions Bank and Katie McCaughan of Jacksonville Dance Theatre (31:42).  

Kerry Speckman told us about some of the events coming to the Jacksonville area in February (46:00). 

Lyndon Johnson Library

Wednesday on First Coast Connect we spoke with Politico contributing editor Joshua Zeitz, who is the author of the book Building The Great Society: Inside Lyndon Johnson’s White House (01:10).

Our Going Green segment featured Zak Furey from Garden of Eatin’ with a look at the best  herbs and vegetables to plant in the winter (18:20).  

Vicki Evans from Tobacco Free Florida talked about how Floridians can get free help to stop smoking (30:53).

Travel blogger Judy Wells gave us some tips on great places to take a vacation this year (46:00).    

Tuesday on First Coast Connect we spoke with attorney Rob Mason, Director of the Juvenile Division with 4th District Public Defender’s Office and a bipartisan effort in Tallahassee to reform the state’s juvenile justice system (01:08).

The latest edition of Moveable Feast features Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra supporter Bill Maletz speaking about the upcoming Wines for Music event at Marsh Landing Country Club (27:36).  

Ahead of her speaking at next week’s Women with Heart Luncheon we spoke with House of Cards and 24 actress Jayne Atkinson-Gill (35:40).

Co-organizers of The Made in St. Augustine festival Monika Benthal and Jaclyn Zeichner joined the show to tell us about next month’s event (46:00).    

Monday on First Coast Connect we spoke with The Centrist Project Jacksonville chapter leader Perry Waag (01:16).

Doctors Uma Eyyunni and Ravi Kancha told us about local nonprofit Mother’s Cry fundraiser for victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico (35:33).

Cole Pepper gave us a Super Bowl preview and a wrap-up of Sunday’s Pro Bowl and what to expect in the Jaguars off-season (46:00)   

Friday on First Coast Connect our weekly Media Roundtable featured Folio Weekly Editor Claire Goforth, WJCT contributor and board member Charles Griggs and Florida Politics Reporter A.G Gancarski. (01:17).

We spoke with Scott Meyer who operates Congaree and Penn farm about the upcoming Olive Weekend (38:50).

Musician and Florida native Ben Sparaco performed live in-studio (46:00).  


Thursday on First Coast Connect we spoke with Northside Coalition of Jacksonville members Ben Frazier and Wells Todd about their upcoming rally calling for the removal of Confederate monuments from public places on the First Coast (01:14).  

We were also joined by Sharika Cunningham, assistant director of Stompdown, which is coming to the Florida Theatre Saturday (46:00). 

Kevin Meerschaert / WJCT

Wednesday on First Coast Connect we spoke with Downtown Investment Authority CEO Andrea Wallace about current and upcoming development projects (01:11).   

As we approach International Holocaust Memorial Day we spoke with local third-generation Holocaust survivor Dana Rogozinski (28:03).  

We learned about the upcoming Generation Works project with Generation W founder Donna Orender and Kristi Branden, Chief Development Officer at Hubbard House (36:25).

We met Duval County teachers Stephanie Bellino and Will Smith. They are finalists for the annual EDDY awards along with Zak Champagne who is with the Jacksonville Public Education Fund.      

The Florida Institute of Oceanography

Tuesday on First Coast Connect we spoke with UNF professor Dr. Jim Gelsleichter about the research vessel W.T. Hogarth that he and some students will be using this spring for ocean research (01:12).

We heard about an event this weekend at the University of North Florida to prevent teen suicides with UF Health Jacksonville Assistant Professor of Psychiatry Dr. Allison Ventura (26:35).    

Generous Pours founder Ellen Cottrill told us about this week’s fundraiser at HOBNOB for Feeding Northeast Florida (35:02).

Jacksonville Public Library Special Collections Manager Laura Minor and Antiques Roadshow appraiser Christopher Lane told us about an event this weekend highlighting the library’s map collection (46:00).   

Folio Weekly

Monday on First Coast Connect we spoke with Folio Weekly editor Clare Goforth about Folio’s upcoming Water Hogs feature (01:13).

We heard about the next She is Fierce! event in St. Augustine with founder Kelly Youngs and creative director Nadia Ramoutaur (29:53).

Shark Eyes inventor Shanan Worrall told us about his product that will be making its U.S. debut this week in Orlando (36:53).

Cole Pepper talked about the Jaguars disappointing loss to New England in the AFC Championship game (46:00).



Friday on First Coast Connect our weekly Media Roundtable featured Florida Times-Union reporter Dan Scanlan, WJCT business analyst John Burr and Beaches Leader columnist Jon McGowan. 

Kevin Meerschaert / WJCT

Thursday on First Coast Connect we spoke with Florida Times-Union reporter David Bauerlein about a plan to build a new hotel and convention center in downtown Jacksonville (01:06).   

Kevin Venardos joined us to talk about The Venardos Circus, which is coming to the St. Augustine Amphitheater later this month (36:47).   

We were joined by film writer and director Royce Freeman, cinematographer Daniel Andujar and actress Jessica Lamb about their film In Utero (46:00).  


Wednesday on First Coast Connect we spoke with Ted Hutchinson, the leader of Forward US.

It’s a group dedicated to immigration reform and improvements to the criminal justice system (01:11).  

Our Going Green segment featured St. Johns Solar Cooperative lead organizer Warren Clark and Angela DeMonbreun, Program Director for Solar United Neighbors of Florida on JEA’s decision to lower its compensation for customers with solar panels (18:02).

Ahead of this weekend’s Marvel Universe LIVE at Veterans arena we spoke with performer Megan Johnson (46:00).    

Chef Gilbert's Facebook page

Tuesday on First Coast Connect we heard about the upcoming Women’s March in Jacksonville with organizers Jennifer Wolfe, Bonnie Hendrix, Mary Cobb and Nancy Quinones (01:05).

The latest segment of Moveable Feast featured the first ever Food Judges Symposium (29:01).

Chef Kenny Gilbert talked about his latest eatery, Gilbert’s Southern Kitchen & Bar (36:38).

Cole Pepper talked about the Jaguars big playoff win in Pittsburgh and looked ahead to Sunday’s AFC Championship game against New England (46:00).