Mike Kiniry

Mike Kiniry is producer of Gulf Coast Live, and co-creator and host of the WGCU podcast Three Song Stories: Biography Through Music. He first joined the WGCU team in the summer of 2003 as an intern while studying Communication at Florida Gulf Coast University. 

He became the first producer of Gulf Coast Live when the show launched in 2004, and also worked as the host of All Things Considered from 2004 to 2006, and the host of Morning Edition from 2006 to 2011. He then left public radio to work as PR Director for the Alliance for the Arts for five years, and was then Principled Communicator at the election integrity company Free & Fair for a year before returning to WGCU in October, 2017.

In the past Mike has been a bartender and cook at Liquid Café in downtown Fort Myers, a golf club fixer/seller at the Broken Niblick Golf Shop in Fort Myers, and a bookseller at Ives Book Shop in Fort Myers. He lives near downtown Fort Myers with his daughter, and their dog and two cats.

While most home chefs may fancy their salsa as worthy of a slot on a grocery store shelf, there is one local group that took that inspiration and turned it into not only a business but a teaching non-profit that serves up spice and inspiration. Taste of Immokalee is a student-run initiative that teaches high school kids about business, the food industry, and marketing, among other things. We're joined by Yvelande Astreid, she's assitant to the Taste of Immokalee executive director, and Marthe August, a junior at Immokalee High School.

The word ‘biodiversity’ refers to the variety of life on Earth, in all its forms and the ways it all interacts. First coined in the mid 80s, biodiversity is a contraction of “biological diversity.” It’s basically all of the life, from genes all the way up to plants and animals and the ecosystems they’re a part of. Florida Gulf Coast University has what’s called a ‘Biodiversity Group’ that brings together experts from different disciplines to assess and address threats to biodiversity here in Florida -- often focusing on things like habitat fragmentation, invasive species, and climate change. During its next conference, this Thursday, March 14th, it will focus on the impacts Red Tide has had on southwest Florida’s species and ecosystems. We're getting a preview of the conference from three FGCU professors: Dr. Darren Rumbold is a Professor of Marine Science; Dr. Win Everham is a Professor of Environmental Studies; and Dr. Heather Skaza-Acosta is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Education here at FGCU, and Director of Environmental Education at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

Arthur C. Brooks has spent the last two decades immersed in public policy analysis as the President of the American Enterprise Institute, and as an author, and opinion writer for the New York Times. While Brooks has in the past been registered as both Democrat and Republican, these days he says he identifies as independent. His latest book, called “Love Your Enemies: How decent people can save America from the Culture of Contempt” explores the great political divide that currently exists in this country. It describes what he calls an “outrage industrial complex” that’s actively working to create a “culture of contempt” that leads to seeing people with whom you disagree as not just wrong, but in some ways worthless as people, or even bad, or evil.

Today is Spread the Word Day -- the word being inclusion. It’s a rebranding of sorts of a decade-old campaign called Spread the Word to End the Word -- the word that campaign sought to end is the word 'retarded' that has been used historically in this country as a derogatory way to refer to people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The new Spread the Word Day is all about promoting efforts to create and nurture inclusion for people with disabilities in all aspects of our lives. The Spread the Word campaign’s website says it's: “Expanding our focus beyond the R-word will issue a welcomed challenge to all of us to create the connections we see missing and to replace the fear of difference we see around us with an embrace of inclusion.”

We’re learning about Project SEARCH which helps students with intellectual and developmental disabilities transition from school to work. The one-year program’s primary objective is to help recent grads develop life and work skills appropriate for competitive employment. Project SEARCH was first developed 20 years ago at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and is now at more than 300 sites across the U.S. and around the world, including here in Southwest Florida at HealthPark Medical Center, and Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

By now you’re probably familiar with the so-called “tiny house movement.” The basic idea is to drastically downsize your life so it fits into a small -- like 500 square feet or less -- home. Sometimes they’re on wheels and can be moved, sometimes they’re on foundations like a normal, larger house would be. Part of the movement is about simplifying one’s life and lifestyle, but affordability is also a driving factor. There is still no set definition as to what exactly constitutes a tiny house. But, the tiny-house movement in general promotes financial prudence, and a shift in mindset away from consumerism. We’re joined by a panel of guests to explore this movement, and why one would choose to pursue it.

Kat Epple, Emmy and Peabody Award-winning composer and flutist, will perform at the Marco Island Historical Society for its 25th Anniversary celebration on March 5, in an event called “Calusa-Inspired Music & Storytelling.” The celebration features the permanent exhibit called “Paradise Found: 6,000 Years of People on Marco Island,” where Pre-Columbian artifacts discovered on the island are showcased. Epple joins us to play some of the Calusa-inspired music she composed that's part of the immersive exhibit, for which she used a conch shell, horn, bird-bone flute and wooden percussion.

We're joined by author John Capouya to explore Florida’s contribution to soul music he covers in his book, “Florida Soul: From Ray Charles to KC and the Sunshine Band.” Capouya, an associate professor of journalism at the University of Tampa, highlights some of the most noteworthy Floridian musicians through research into and interviews about soul’s golden age.


From Tampa, Capouya tells us more about Florida’s history of soul music and the details of his book. Capouya will present a lecture as part of the Florida Humanities Council Speaker’s Series at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates on Thursday, February 28 at 6:00 p.m.

What is the future of farming? There were 12 million people employed in agriculture in the U.S. in the year 1900, which was 1 out of every 6 people. Today, there are about 1.7 million, which is just 1 out of every 50 people who are employed in agriculture. Two professors from the University of Florida say a robotic revolution is going to allow for increased food production in a sustainable way. Dr. Senthold Asseng, who teaches at UF’s  Agricultural & Biological Engineering Department, and Dr. Frank Asche, a UF professor of Natural Resource Economics, concludes that future farmers will likely be data scientists, programmers and “robot wranglers.”

Joining us from the studio at WUFT in Gainesville, the professors discuss their recent paper “Future Farms Without Farmers,” which was published in the journal of “Science Robotics.”

Self-driving cars used to be a thing of science fiction, but they’re quickly becoming a reality. Different manufacturers in different countries are working to make them safe enough for real-world use. We're joined by Larry Burns to discuss his knowledge as an educator and consultant in the world of autonomous vehicles. He is a retired senior vice president of research and development, and strategic planning at General Motors. Since retiring in 2009, he has consulted for Google’s self-driving car project called Waymo, and he's author of a new book called “Autonomy: The Quest to Build the Driverless Car - And How It Will Reshape Our World.”

The US is still struggling with opioid addiction, and Florida continues to experience some of the highest opioid overdose rates in the country. Last year hospitals in Florida treated approximately 18,000 opioid overdoses...that’s almost 50 every day. Former governor Rick Scott declared a public health emergency in May of 2017, and last September Florida was granted 27 million dollars in federal funding to help fight the opioid crisis -- that was part of a two-year, 54 million dollar grant awarded to the state to pay for treatment, counseling and medication to reverse drug overdoses.

As most of our listeners are well-aware, Southwest Florida recently experienced two severe harmful algal blooms: the red tide along the coast, and the toxic blue-green algae in the Caloosahatchee River and its estuary. Both blooms were at least partly fueled by nutrient-rich water from Lake Okeechobee, but there is no doubt that the lake was the source of the toxic blue-green algae. Now, there’s a new research effort underway to monitor algae in Lake Okeechobee using a self-driving, solar-powered, data-collecting sailboat called Nav2. It was used in 2017 to collect information on the red tide bloom, and now it’s been launched in Lake Okeechobee to collect data there.

Joshua Johnson hosts “1A,” a daily radio show that seeks to explore important issues pertaining to policy, politics and technology. Johnson was born and raised in West Palm Beach, and worked for public radio in Miami and San Francisco before “1A” replaced the “The Diane Rehm Show” in 2017.

“1A” is produced out of WAMU in Washington, DC and distributed by NPR. Johnson joined us in the studio a few days ago as a guest on the WGCU podcast “Three Song Stories” with producers Mike Kiniry and Richard Chin Quee. And then later that evening, he spoke at the Myra Janco Daniels Public Media Center at a public event hosted by WGCU’s Julie Glenn and John Davis which we present here in its entirety.

Since last year's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, schools in Lee County have received more than 200 violent threats. In response, the School District of Lee County, and its partners in law enforcement, is cracking down on threats. The “Fake Threat, Real Consequences” initiative means that students who threaten violence against a school or their classmates can and will be arrested.

We’re joined in the studio by the school district's director of safety, Rick Parfitt, the principal at Fort Myers High School, Dr. Robert Butz, and Commander Michael Miller, he's the leader of youth services at the Lee County Sheriff's Office.

The entire WGCU News team spent much of 2018 covering two devastating harmful algal blooms; red tide in the gulf and bluegreen algae coming from Lake Okeechobee.