Betsy Kaplan


What's In a Title?

20 hours ago
Eon Productions, MGM

Listen live on Tuesday at 1:00 pm.

The opening credits of your favorite movies and television shows set the mood, tone, and characters for what's to come, and allow you to relax and get ready for the show. Some fast-forward through the opening credits to avoid distraction from the main performance. Others say title sequences are supposed to be more like a score: felt, but not noticed. 

The film industry first fell in love with titles in the 1950s, when iconic opening sequences from Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" and Rod Serling's "Twilight Zone" were etched deep in our memories. The opening notes are still recognizable half a century later. The same can be said for the well-known HBO series "Game of Thrones." 

DonkeyHotey / Creative Commons

This week, Pope Francis was the biggest thing to hit America since the British Invasion. You could buy Pope-themed dolls, cookies with the Pope's face, hats, coffee mugs, backpacks, and even a Pope Bobblehead.

It was the pope's first visit to the U.S., and he seemed eager and happy to be here. He spoke passionately about the poor, climate change, and the migrant crisis, and cautioned against religious extremism. It has left some people wondering why he met privately and secretly with Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refuses to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Phalinn Ool / Creative Commons

There are lots of tools to help us gauge the quality of nearly any product or service we wish to buy, from cars to computers to restaurants. Yet there's no easy way to assess the quality of the doctors who take care of what's most important to us -- our health. 

Woodley Wonder Works / Creative Commons


We've been talking a lot over this last year about problems like misogyny and violence in football, rape on college campuses, mass shootings, and increasing rates of suicide and addiction. What we don't say is that men are the victims of these behaviors as much as women, albeit in different ways. 

We often look for explanations in mental health, failed policy, or lax laws. But men overwhelmingly engage in these behaviors. Why are we reluctant to discuss what society expects from men, and whether those expectations are realistic? 

Geoffrey Fairchild / Creative Commons

Violent crime in America has been dropping for years, reaching a point in 2012 that was roughly half of what it was in 1993. But that may be changing.

The New York Times reported that violent crime was rising sharply in cities like Milwaukee and St. Louis. In Hartford, there were 19 homicides in all of 2014. That number was matched in late July this year.

Walking With Dante

Sep 28, 2015
Freeparking :-I / Creative Commons

"Dante's Inferno" is the most famous section of Dante Aligheri's 14,000 line epic poem, The Divine Comedy. But it's only the first part of Dante's long pilgrimage through the afterlife. He first enters the circles of hell, filled with beasts and sinners doomed to the Inferno for crimes like gluttony, lust, and treason. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Raouf Mama is a beloved storyteller by children and adults familiar with his books Why Goats Smell Bad and Why Monkeys Live in TreesHis love of storytelling stems from a long and honorable oral tradition that goes back to the ancient empire of Mali, when people preserved the lessons of life in memory instead of on the written page.

Raouf says we each have a story of belonging and identity. He uses his stories to entertain, comfort, and most of all as a tool to enlighten students.

Frankieleon / Creative Commons

There was a time when hard work brought most Americans a decent wage, a secure life, and opportunities to aim for a better life. George Packer says that's no longer the case for too many Americans.

Institutions that once anchored middle-class Americans are either collapsing or morphing into faceless institutions that benefit the wealthy, Packer says. Health and educational outcomes are significantly lower for the poor, who are also incarcerated at higher rates. 

Ted Danforth

A judge in 17th century Connecticut ruled on the thorniest of problems. Some of these included ruling on a piglet’s paternity, who was to blame for faulty shoes, and whether illicit sex had occurred on a boat sailing to Stamford. 

While most of the rulings wouldn’t stand up in today’s court, our earliest settlers struggled to decide a fair price to pay under a harsh system. Connecticut Superior Court Judge Jon Blue shares some of the liveliest tales from our past, vividly described by court reporters not bound by modern day legalese.

dtstuff9 / Creative Commons

Ben Vereen was plucked from the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn to go to the prestigious Performing Arts High School because somebody thought he had talent. Influenced by song and dance men like Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr., Ben Vereen garnered accolades for groundbreaking roles in "Pippin," "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Roots," in which he challenged us to think about race, religion and who can make art.

Spokane Focus / Creative Commons

Joyce Carol Oates has been writing since before she could read, making "books" by drawing and coloring characters in her tablet. She preferred upright chickens and cats in confrontational poses and tried hard to make her books look like the ones read by adults.  

She's wanted to be a writer since inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Those books changed her life and by extension, ours. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Caroline Jacobs is a grown woman with children of her own. But by all accounts, she's a wimp. She would prefer to suffer in silence than stand up for herself or anyone else -- until she couldn't stand it anymore.  

One night, while at a public meeting and in a crowded room, she stood up, pointed her finger at the one she loathed, and shouted "F%$# You" to her nemesis. With that one phrase, she was ready to face her past. 

Geoffrey Fairchild / Creative Commons

Violent crime in America has been dropping for years, reaching a point in 2012 that was roughly half of what it was in 1993. But that may be changing.

The New York Times reported last week that violent crime was rising sharply in cities like Milwaukee and St. Louis. In Hartford, homicides jumped to 25 so far this year, up from 19 in 2014.

エルエルLL / Creative Commons

WNPR has a radio project and we want to get you involved. The idea is simple: we provide a theme; you call our hotline with your story.

The theme: Tell us one thing you remember from last week and why it was memorable to you. It doesn't have to be a long story - between 5-20 words is plenty, unless you want to add a little more. The point is that we can all tell a story and it doesn't have to be a chore. 

PLF73 / Creative Commons

Does it seem like there are a lot of bears in Connecticut? It's hard to have a conversation this summer without someone mentioning they spotted a bear. While most of us are in awe of the size and majesty of these animals, most of us don't know much about bears. In light of this weekend's closing of Sessions Woods, now might be a good time to talk about what's already on everyone's minds.

McFreshCreates / Flickr Creative Commons

If you know how to read, you're probably pretty good at recognizing words. But, new words like "egg corn," "crema" and "slendro" are challenging our concept of what makes a word.  Yet these very words were recently added to Merriam-Webster's unabridged online dictionary.

America and Iran have not had an easy relationship since 1979, when 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days by students supporting the Iranian Revolution. The resulting rise of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini further weakened the relationship.

David Scheel

The octopus has always been the stuff of spine-tingling legend, like that of the Kraken, the many-armed sea monster believed to drag ships to the bottom of the sea after dining on the crew. Or  Gertie the Pus, the giant Pacific octopus that lives under the Narrows Bridge connecting Tacoma, Washington to Gig Harbor.

In reality, the octopus is more benign but equally fascinating.  Did you know the octopus has two-thirds of its brain neurons distributed throughout its eight arms? Or, that the severed arm of an octopus can walk independently toward a food source and move it to where its mouth should be? 

FrankieLeon / Creative Commons

Opioid overuse is America’s “silent epidemic,” affecting far too many of the roughly eight million people on opioid painkillers.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the CDC says overprescribing is to blame.  "Every single day, 46 Americans die from an overdose of prescription opioid painkillers like Vicodin, Oxycontin or Methadone," he said. "These drugs are commonly prescribed in every community, and a surge in prescriptions has been the main force of this epidemic."

Dragons Rule!

Aug 20, 2015
William O'Connor - William O'Connor Studios

She who controls the dragon controls the world.

Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion are the most recent dragons to capture our attention, thanks to "Game of Thrones," the wildly popular HBO hit that's placed dragons front and center in our imagination.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Colin spent the last few weeks speaking with each of the Bridgeport mayoral candidates likely to qualify for the September 16 primary. First, Joe Ganim. Last week, Mary Jane Foster. Today, we talk to incumbent Bill Finch.

Börkur Sigurbjörnsson / Creative Commons

Today, our show about poo.

First, the 'no-poo' movement. Before the last century, people washed their hair a lot less often than we do today. A little Castille soap, an egg yoke for extra shine, and one hundred strokes with a boar bristle brush would do the trick. It wasn't until John Breck introduced his golden shampoo that everyone wanted to have the long lustrous locks of a Breck Girl. Today, 'no-poo' converts are going back to the basics and they say they're hair has never looked so good.

Candidate Mary-Jane Foster is hoping to qualify for the Bridgeport mayoral primary on September 16. She thinks she's got a pretty good chance.

Foster is in a tight race with both incumbent Bill Finch and challenger Joe Ganim, the popular former mayor who spent seven years in prison for crimes he committed while in office.

Phalinn Ool / Creative Commons

There are lots of tools to help us gauge the quality of nearly any product or service we wish to buy, from cars to computers to restaurants. Yet there's no easy way to assess the quality of the doctors who take care of what's most important to us -- our health. 

Natalia Rivera / Creative Commons

It's summer and 90 degrees -- so why am I freezing at the office?

A recent New York Times article on air conditioning has sparked a debate on whether air conditioning is a necessity or an indulgence.

Some say air conditioning has been a part of our lives for less than a century, yet we increasingly rely on it as soon as the weather makes us feel the slightest bit uncomfortable. We're not only losing our ability to adapt, the resulting green-house gas emissions are contributing to climate change. And public buildings are way colder than they need to be for comfort.

Peter Harrison / Creative Commons

This past week, a Minnesota dentist and father of two shocked us out of our complacency. Desensitized by the weekly shootings this summer of African Americans by white policemen, moviegoers in theaters and African American churchgoers by a young white racist,  his ambush of Cecil the lion was a visceral blow to our collective gut.  Yes, we're still horrified by the way human beings treat each other. Our outrage over Cecil doesn't change that horror, but animals are somehow out-of-bounds of our cruelty to one another. In some ways, they're like civilians in a war - innocent victims in a world outnumbered by humans with the power to destroy all that is natural in this world.

Cloe Poisson / Courtesy of The Hartford Courant

No one can argue the charisma of former Bridgeport mayor Joe Ganim. He served five terms as a beloved leader in a city long plagued by  crime, poverty, and corruption, much of the corruption under the Ganim administration.

Dominick D / Creative Commons

Two funny men. Two funny books. 

I Must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend follows the life of Martin Short, a funny man who spent his childhood staging elaborate one-man variety shows  in his attic bedroom before bringing us enduring and endearing characters like Ed Grimley, Irving Cohen and Jimmy Glick.  

LaDawna Howard / Creative Commons

Fifty years ago, President Lyndon Johnson waged a war on poverty  to rebuild America as a “Great Society” where “no child will go unfed, and no youngster will go unschooled.” 

Medicaid was enacted in 1965 as part of sweeping legislation to provide food, education, healthcare and jobs to millions in poverty.  Once a benefit for poor single parents and their kids, Medicaid now covers mental illness, disabilities, the elderly and most recently, millions of the previously uninsured through Obamacare.

Marc Nozell / Creative Commons

The life of the black Republican is pretty lonely these days, but it hasn’t always been that way. Black Americans were deeply rooted in the party of Lincoln for decades to avoid joining a Democratic Party controlled by "devils from below the Mason-Dixon line."