Betsy Kaplan

Senior Producer

Betsy started as an intern at WNPR in 2011 after earning a Master's Degree in American and Museum Studies from Trinity College. Prior to that, Betsy worked as an intensive care registered nurse in several Connecticut hospitals.

While taking time off from nursing to have fun with her three young daughters, she was elected to three terms on her town's Board of Education and worked at a local museum. 

She's produced shows for Where We Live and the Colin McEnroe Show, several of which have won local awards.

She is currently the senior producer for the Colin McEnroe Show

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. 

Grendelkhan / Creative Commons

Connecticut might mean clapboard homes, leafy suburbs, and town centers that show off their roots to our colonial past. Unless you're thinking of southeastern Connecticut.

The southeastern part of our state conjures images of casinos, submarines, and a blue-collar vibe that's just a little different from the rest of the state.

It probably doesn't help that the Connecticut River literally cuts the state in half, separating southeastern sections from their wealthier brethren. Wally Lamb describes it as "more feisty than fashionable, more liverwurst than pate."

Caitlin Mitchell

We had a great show planned for you today with two great authors. But, sometimes life is crazier than the fiction we talk about and today, we ended up with two great authors, but only one we expected. 

Sloane Crosley pays homage to Guy de Maupassant in her debut novel about three old friends searching for an elusive necklace as a way out of their quarter-life crisis, yet unable to share their deepest thoughts with their closest friends. 

Colum McCann was supposed to join us but was unable at the last minute. Instead, you'll hear from him next week. 

But, that left Colin with a lot of time on air by himself. He got to vamp for the last half hour like he hasn't been able to do since he started working at WNPR. He kind of liked it, especially when author David Mitchell dropped in for a surprise chat. You can't make up this stuff.

B Mauro / Creative Commons

This week, movie trailers lost their way when someone advocated boycotting Star Wars VII because they believe the trailer advocated white genocide. Why? Because a black man, a woman and a Latino were prominently featured in the trailer to the detriment of you guessed it, white men. What does this say about the level of diversity in science fiction fans?

USDA / Creative Commons

Access to health care has improved significantly since Obamacare, with big gains for previously uninsured minorities who were unable to gain access before the law took effect. But insurance isn’t the only barrier to overcome. Entrenched cultural beliefs and the way we deliver care can also limit access.

Josh Haner, The New York Times / European Pressphoto Agency

This past week brought us the long-awaited first of six Democratic candidate debates, held at the Wynn Casino in Las Vegas. The tone was substantive, exposing a few stark differences between the candidates and their Republican opponents. They offered nuanced and complex views -- overall, a good night for voters who want to know the candidates. 

Wavian / Creative Commons

Three years ago, Hurricane Sandy hit the shores of Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey, killing 71 people and causing damages worth $50 billion. We suffer from a kind of amnesia: we know it happened, but we hesitate to change much about the way we prepare for future events. New York invested nearly $20 billion in new protective measures, simultaneously allowing 900 new housing units to be constructed next to the water.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the most important voices in America today. He made the case for reparations last summer when he argued that it's time for America to confront the impact of slavery, Jim Crow, and other discriminatory policies that have consistently denied African Americans opportunities afforded other Americans. He says until we admit to the debts accrued from years of racism, we can never be whole.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

There's a debate over whether college should prepare kids with specific skills that will prepare them for jobs, or give them a wide-ranging but more general liberal arts education. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

   

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. 

The Huntington / Creative Commons

I could have called myself a Stradivarius,

for though I, of course, was just an ordinary violin, waiting,

ready to be held for the first time in a musician’s hands,

primed to be played,

mobilized by all my busy genes

to become music –

when first I felt the quiver

of its stirring sound,

I became, imparadised,

the most priceless stringed instrument

on the face of the earth. 

Frankie Leon / Flickr 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."

What's In a Title?

Oct 6, 2015
Eon Productions, MGM

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 flickr.com/photos/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 flickr.com/photos/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 flickr.com/photos/107244436@N07 / 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.

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