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SHOW US THE MONEY! Or let us know if there’s a better way.

June 16, 2010

This week the WRNI newsroom is heavily involved with the summer on-air fundraiser, but our reporters are still busy on a number of stories.

Our education reporter, Elisabeth Harrison, produced a story on how Rhode Island high school students are rethinking their decision about college and how to pay for it.   In a difficult economy, with rising college costs, a growing number of Rhode Islanders are choosing state colleges instead of more costly out-of-state schools.  In her story, which Thursday morning on Morning Edition, Elisabeth reports that Rhode Island College has seen a record number of applications this year, and at U-R-I, the number of in-state students enrolling is on the rise, as well.   “About 100 more Rhode Islanders have chosen to come to URI compared to this time last year.  So that’s a 6.5% increase,” according to Cynthia Bonn, URI’s Dean of Admissions.  Bonn says the bad economy continues to be a struggle for many of the families she works with.  And she says that even the relatively inexpensive tuition of a state school is a stretch for many.  “We got a call from the father of an incoming freshman [who had] lost his job — I mean these are the kinds of calls that we’re getting this year,” says Bonn.  “People are [asking], is there anything you can do?  Is there any additional aid?  Is there any additional scholarship money?  Or I can’t afford to send my child.  And can I get my deposit back?”

Flo Jonic is developing another story about the state’s tough economy.  She has found that despite the state’s high unemployment rate, hundreds of high-paying jobs are going begging.  The problem is what employment experts call a “skills deficit.”  In other words, people don’t have the skills necessary to do the work. 

Our news analyst, Scott MacKay, is writing this week about the costs of the sharp reductions in the number of state employees.  While politicians are congratulating themselves for all the money that is being saved through public sector layoffs, Scott reports that there has been less mention of the impact that these cuts are having on many Rhode Islanders.  For example, the cuts mean that there are more part-timers teaching at our colleges and universities, longer lines at the DMV, and fewer health and safety inspections around the state.  You can hear Scott’s essay next Monday on Morning Edition.  Scott will also be interviewing Anthony Gemma, a businessman from Lincoln, who is the latest entrant in the race to succeed Patrick Kennedy in the first congressional district. 

Morning Edition host, Bob Seay, interviewed Joel Thibodeau, who is the driving force behind the Rhode Island-based band, Death Vessel.  Thibodeau, who was born In Berlin and raised in Kennebunkport, Maine, has an extraordinary and unusual singing voice.  Following a tour of the west coast, the Midwest and Canada, he sat down for an interview with Bob.  You can hear the interview on June 24th on Morning Edition during Rhode Island Artscape.  You can also see a video of Thibodeau performing the song, “Block my Eye,” in our studios by clicking right here.

And finally, I will be hosting our weekly Political Round Table segment on Friday.  Pablo Rodriguez, talk show host at Latino Public Radio, will be joining our usual panelists (Scott Mackay and URI poltical science professor, Maureen Moakley).  We will be talking about Presdent Obama’s address to the nation about the Gulf oil spill, the nation’s addiction to oil, Rhode Island’s addiction to gambling revenue, and the state legislature’s addiction to passing the buck. 

That’s a bit of what’s going on in the WRNI newsroom this week.

Please know that we are looking forward to the successful conclusion of our summer fundraiser, and that we are grateful to all of you who have already contributed.  We recognize that listening to us beg for money can be annoying (as in, you feel like throwing a brick at your radio!), but the fact is, it’s necessary.  If you know of a better way to get those dollars to roll in to support this essential public service, please share it with us.  My reporters and I would like nothing better than to spend less time begging and more time covering the news, bringing you memorable stories, interviews and features.

Thanks for listening, and stay tuned.


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