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.

  • Join The Conversation: (904) 549-2937 (Note: This line is only active during the program, 9 -10 a.m.) 
  • Email First Coast Connect

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

The twice-a-month Going Green segment is sponsored in part by A1A Solar and the monthly First Coast Success segment is sponsored in part by Iberiabank.

The monthly First Coast Connect Book Club is sponsored in part by San Marco Books and more.

Friday on First Coast Connect our weekly Media Roundtable featured guest host Ryan Benk and featured Florida Times-Union reporter Tessa Duval, WJCT Business Analyst John Burr, Florida Politics reporter A.G. Gancarski and Beaches Leader columnist Jon McGowan.  

Media Roundtable

Kevin Meerschaert / WJCT

Wednesday on First Coast Connect we spoke with State Representative and Republican candidate for Attorney General Jay Fant (01:24).

UNF assistant professor of biology Dr. Mike Aspinwall told us about a recent study he participated in to examine how large trees in Australia are affected by climate change (33:08).

Researcher Dr. Jeremy Valdo told us the story of Rob the shark who was tagged by scientists and was recently tracked off the shore of Jacksonville (46:00).

Mikaela Lefrak / WAMU

Tuesday on First Coast Connect, ahead of Wednesday’s expected walkout by students around the country, we spoke with parent Patrick O’Donoghue and students Mia Cleary of Ponte Vedra High, Ajay Sasha of Nease High and Monique Sampson from UNF Students for a Democratic Society (01:06).  

We heard about an upcoming symposium on autism at the University of North Florida with doctors Celine Saulnier and Nathan Call along with parent Jackie Bargas and her autistic son St. John (31:19).

Moveable Feast featured international hospitality consultant Sandi Galloway (39:02).

First Coast Connect Book Club blogger Stacey Goldring featured the book Little Fires Everywhere (46:00).    

Kevin Meerschaert / WJCT

Monday on First Coast Connect, we spoke with Duval County School Board Chair Paula Wright about several issues affecting the district (01:12).   

New York Times bestselling author of the Mitford novels joined us along with Dean Kate Moorehead of St. Johns Cathedral about the author’s talk this Saturday at the church (29:44).

We heard about SCORE, or Service Corps of Retired Executives, and their upcoming workshop with volunteer Derrick Smith and workshop coordinator Craig Linsky (37:50).

WJCT sports analyst Cole Pepper joined us to talk about March Madness and the Gate River Run (46:00).     

Friday on First Coast Connect, our weekly Media Roundtable featured Folio Weekly Editor Claire Goforth, Financial News and Daily Record reporter David Cawton and WJCT contributor Fred Matthews (01:09).

We spoke with Albert Syles, President of Romanza, on St. Augustine’s history around St. Patrick’s Day and Bolshoi Ballet Academy Director Davis Robertson, who is in town for a show Saturday night (46:00).

International Women's Day.com

Thursday on First Coast Connect, we spoke with Rethreaded founder Kristin Keen regarding International Women’s Day (01:06).

Director of the UNF International Business Program Andres Gallo and Janice Donaldson from UNF’s Small Business Center told us about next week’s Value Creation in the Global Economy conference on Jacksonville’s logistics market (24:19).

Melissa spoke with local MasterChef Junior finalist Camson Alvey and ahead of next week’s Root Ball to raise funds for Greenscape of Jacksonville we were joined by Executive Director Anna Dooley and ball committee member Robin Patton along with musicians Brendan Doherty and Philip Pan, who will perform there (46:00).

UF Health Jacksonville

Wednesday on First Coast Connect, we spoke with UF Health Jacksonville CEO Dr. Leon Haley on the troubles in Tallahassee of getting the legislature to agree on Medicaid funding and approving a budget  UPDATE - a budget was agreed upon Wednesday afternoon. There will now be a three-day “cooling off” period before the vote by the legislature (01:12).

Ahead of the City Rescue Mission’s Annual Difference Makers Banquet we spoke with Executive Director Penny Kievet and FCS Ministries Founder and Toxic Charity author Robert Lupton who’ll be speaking at the banquet (25:45).  

MOCA Jacksonville’s Caitlin Doherty and artist Anila Quayyum Agha joined the show to talk about Anila’s Project Atrium exhibit, The Greys In-Between (35:30).

Duval County Public Schools Arts Director Jeff Smith and members of the district’s Arts Advisory Council - Erin Kendrick and Shawn Pfaffman - told us about March being Arts in Our Schools Month for DCPS (46:00).  

NPR

Tuesday on First Coast Connect, we spoke with Reverend Gregg Kaufman who is a member of the National Issues Forum Institute on a recent study looking at how to reduce crime (01:15).  

We heard about a new Nonpartisan Political Campaign Seminar with Leadership Jacksonville CEO Jill Langford Dame (30:57).

Mayo Clinic doctors Pashtoon Kasi and Douglas Riegert-Johnson talked about March being Colon Cancer Awareness Month (37:08).

Relevnt founder and CEO Winder Hughes told us about his new app, which includes a locally focused section known as #904NOW (46:00).       

Kevin Meerschaert / WJCT

Monday on First Coast Connect, we spoke with local attorney Mike Freed about the city of Jacksonville filing a lawsuit against major drug manufacturers over the opioid crisis (01:06).

We were joined by Board President Chris Schwing to discuss this year’s Jacksonville Women’s Leadership Forum (29:21).

Players by the Sea creative Marketing Manager Bradley Akers and Director Kris Jackson talked about their New Voices program (46:00).    

Friday on First Coast Connect, our weekly Media Roundtable featured Florida Times-Union reporter Dan Scanlan, Jacksonville Business Journal editor Timothy Gibbons, WJCT business analyst John Burr and WJCT reporter Lindsey Kilbride (01:15).  

We spoke with Julie Watkins, Executive Director of The Girls Gone Green about Saturday’s annual Northeast Florida Veg Fest (38:57).

Trading Spaces star Brett Taylor joined us to talk about the return of the show and his appearance this weekend at the Jacksonville Home and Patio Show (46:00).  

Ryan Johnson / NPR

Thursday on First Coast Connect, we spoke with Dr. Madeline Joseph, Professor of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics at UF College of Medicine Jacksonville, who is looking at bullying as a public health issue (01:15).   

This month’s edition of First Coast Success featured Jacksonville University President Tim Cost (26:54).  

Our latest Art Attack roundtable featured (32:26):

  • Lee Hamby of the 5 and Dime Theatre
  • Shawana Brooks with the Jacksonville Public Library
  • Robert Arleigh White, Vice President for Development at Jacksonville’s Museum of Science and History
  • Suzanne Hudson Smith, Development Director at the Florida Theatre
  • Ryan Ali, Director of Development for Baptist M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

We heard about Saturday morning’s MOOVE-IT 5K beginning at the Cowford Chophouse with race organizer Nicole White and Jamie Rosseland and Michelle Lasky from the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center. Kerry Speckman told us about some of the events coming up in March around Jacksonville (46:00).   

Molly Adams / Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday on First Coast Connect, we spoke with Mario Decunto, who is chairman of Mayor Lenny Curry’s Hispanic American Advisory Board, about the  U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling on DACA students and this week’s Hispanic American Leadership Awards (01:06).   

Our premiere edition of #realtalk hosted by WJCT contributor and board member Charles Griggs featured public safety analyst Ken Jefferson, attorney Rhonda Peoples-Waters and meteorologist Steve Smith (25:20).

WJCT News Director Jessica Palombo talked about the next Beyond The Core event taking place in Arlington (40:15).

Travel blogger Judy Wells told us about what it’s like to take a Carnival cruise out of Jacksonville 46:00). 

 

Chertoff Group

Tuesday on First Coast Connect, ahead of his talk Tuesday evening at the University of North Florida, we spoke with General Michael Hayden, who is a former director of the NSA and CIA (01:24).    

The latest edition of Moveable Feast featured Chriss Brown from 927 Events (25:05).

We heard about Friday’s Environmental Summit at the Florida Coastal School of Law with FCSL professor Eric Hull, Quinton White, Director of the Marine Science Research Institute at Jacksonville University and Kinsley Vassey, President of the Real Property and Environmental Law Society (34:08).

WJCT Music Director David Luckin talked about some of the 89.9 music shows and what’s coming up Tuesday night on Turntable Tuesdays (46:00).

Monday on First Coast Connect we spoke with former Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office spokesman Ken Jefferson on law enforcement’s role in the Parkland school shooting (01:14).  

We discussed America Saves Week with Jax Federal Credit Union Chief Operating Officer Mary Svoboda (30:56).

We learned about the upcoming Jacksonville Science Festival with organizers Tia Unthank and Nadia Hionides and Eddie Whisler with the Museum of Science and History (38:54).

Cole Pepper talked about the latest sports news, including the Jaguars signing a contract extension with quarterback Blake Bortles (46:00).  

Friday on First Coast Connect our weekly Media Roundtable featured Florida Times-Union reporter Andrew Pantazi, Folio Weekly editor Claire Goforth, Jacksonville Daily Record reporter David Cawton and WJCT contributor and board member Charles Griggs (01:51).

Douglas Anderson School of the Arts Principal Melanie Hammer, Executive Director of the Douglas Anderson Foundation Jackie Cornelius and former student Tanner Lane talked Saturday’s annual Extravaganza (38:49).

Author Amy Chua told us about her latest book, Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations (46:00).  

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