First Coast Connect

Weekdays 9 a.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.

Thursday on First Coast Connect:



  • Cultural Council Executive Director Tony Allegretti on U.S. News and World Report ranking Jacksonville as the 45th best city in the U.S. to live  

  • Dr. Joan Mitchell Martin on her traveling Black History Wax Museum

  • Jackie Cornelius with Douglas Anderson School of the Arts on EXTRAVAGANZA 2017

  • Kerry Speckman on this weekend’s happenings


Join the conversation:

  • Call: (904) 549-2937 (Note: This line is only active during the program, 9:00-10:00 a.m.)

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  • Comment on Facebook at First Coast Connect


Learn more about the First Coast Connect Book Club

Subscribe to the First Coast Connect podcast on iTunes

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

Education coverage is sponsored in part by the Chartrand Foundation.

Hurricane season is in full swing, and Florida's homeowners are among the most at-risk in the nation should a major storm surge our way.

Now is the time to scrutinize your property insurance policy and find out what is - and is not - covered.

Random House

In the market for a great beach read this summer?

Here are some suggestions from the First Coast Connect Book Club, courtesy of  local book blogger Stacey Goldring.

Office of the State Attorney - 4th Judicial Circuit of Florida

Special Prosecutor Angela Corey is pleased with the way jury selection in the George Zimmerman trial is progressing.

Thursday, attorneys questioned jury candidates for a fourth day. Corey told WJCT First Coast Connect guest host Karen Feagins that even though the process isn’t moving quickly, it’s deliberate for a reason.

Fresh water springs all over the state are facing  an increasing number of problems, from over-use of the aquifer to over-fertilizing.

Silver Springs is arguably in the worst condition and activists are concerned a permit to allow pumping from the springs for a nearby cattle ranch could be a breaking point if it is approved. 

JT Townsend Foundation Facebook Page

JT Townsend, who was paralyzed from the neck down in a high school football game and went on to create a foundation to help others with disabilities, has died. The JT Townsend Foundation shared news of his death on its Facebook page:

FSCJ (Florida State College at Jacksonville) is planting "seeds" of economic empowerment through an innovative program in partnership with Georgetown University. It's the only program of its kind in Florida.

Florida Times-Union

A national organization that has a presence in dozens of American cities has picked Jacksonville as its latest site.

City Year partners with challenged schools and young people, uniting them in the cause of providing hands-on help to struggling students. 

And that help is needed, because there is a dropout crisis in this city - statistics show one in three students in Duval County don’t make it to graduation.

The 5 & Dime Theatre Company goes behind the veil in its provocative new show, staging in the CoRK Arts District this month.

Beers Against Bullies

May 29, 2013
Multiverse Media Group

Robert Ingram was born with a cleft palate and lip, and was often teased at school. After a brutal beating at age 12 at the hands of some bullies, he received a revelation that came from a friend. That friend handed Robert a card for martial arts classes and said, "you need this."

Robert has been training in the arts ever since. He's the head instructor and owner of Alpha Dogs Martial Arts and has participated in such events like International Kickboxing, Sports Karate, and now working on Mixed Martial Arts.

Blueprint for Leadership is a once-a-year program, started by HandsOn Jacksonville, that trains local residents to become members of Boards of Directors for local non-profit organizations.

The City of Jacksonville, The Elbow and many other organizations are working together to keep the party going long after the last act at Jazz Fest has stopped playing.

Back in 2011, three UNF/FSU students envisioned a non-profit that would supply much-needed clean water to third world countries.

Today, after visioning trips and well-water building experience, Water for All Nations is operating with a global board of directors, and co-founder Ryan Winter is moving from Jacksonville to Tanzania later this month to begin implementing its mission.

It’s an ambitious effort from one of the biggest change agents in town.. to change the system for girls.

The Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center is up and running. Its focus is girls in the juvenile and foster care systems. And the Center will be run by a national standout in understanding the complex needs of girls.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office says it's ramping up efforts to get illegal guns off city streets by publicizing its five-year-old gun bounty program. 

Here's how it works: anyone who tips authorities to the whereabouts of an illegal firearm earns a $1,000 reward - no questions asked.

"We've confiscated more than 300 illegal guns since 2006 with this program," says Sheriff John Rutherford. "And it's never gone away, but now we're marketing it so more people are aware of it and call us with information."

The Ghost Army tells the story of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops using props to deceive German troops during World War II.