Diane Orson

Managing Editor/Host

Diane Orson is WNPR's local host for Morning Edition.  She's also a reporter and managing editor for WNPR, as well as a contributor to National Public Radio. Her stories are heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition and Here And Now.  Diane began at WBUR in Boston and came to Connecticut in 1988 as a co-producer for Open Air New England.  She shared a Peabody Award with Faith Middleton for their piece of radio nostalgia about New Haven's Shubert Theatre.  Her reporting has  been recognized by the Connecticut Society for Professional Journalists and the Associated Press, including the Ellen Abrams Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism and the Walt Dibble Award for Overall Excellence.

Diane is also an active professional musician. She lives in Hamden with her husband. Her two children are in college.


Resettlement in Connecticut
7:59 am
Tue March 19, 2013

Iraqi Refugees in Connecticut

On the tenth anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, refugees continue to flee their country for the U.S.  More than 650 Iraqis have resettled in Connecticut since 2007, 400 in the New Haven area.

Imad Al Mallack arrived in January. Speaking through an interpreter, he says he left Iraq with his wife and two young children because its so unsafe.

"Very bad security situation. Car bomb. They have a lot of bombing in Baghdad."

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Higher Education
12:07 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

Service Members Lose Tuition Assistance

Many service members join the military because they’re eligible for tuition assistance and the GI Bill. But service members are losing these educational benefits because of federal budget cuts.

Michael Sanzo signed up in 2004 as an Army infantryman. 

"I knew when I was 18, 19 years old that I wasn’t ready for college. I had no way to pay for it. So I made a decision. Cause I knew how important it was to have a degree."

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Prescription Drugs
6:42 am
Thu March 14, 2013

Stimulant Use Among Medical School Students

Colleges have known for years that students use prescription stimulants to focus and stay awake while studying. But new research finds that the rate of stimulant use among medical school students is higher.

Jadon Webb says he and a colleague got the idea for their research while in medical school, listening to a professor’s lecture.  

"He was talking with us about life in medical school 50, 60 years ago. And in the course of talking about it, he was joking about how whenever exams came up, everyone had to use speed."

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4:16 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Tweed-New Haven Airport To Appeal Decision To Close Control Tower.

Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport will appeal a decision by the FAA to close its control tower because of across-the-board spending cuts called sequestration.

Tweed is the only airport with commercial service in New England slated to lose its control tower. U.S. Airways flies from New Haven to Philadelphia four times a day. 

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7:45 am
Tue March 5, 2013

Thousands Attend Hearing On Driver's Licenses For Undocumented Residents

Diane Orson

A huge crowd turned out last night for a transportation committee public hearing in New Haven. People testified in support of proposals to allow undocumented residents in Connecticut to obtain driver’s licenses. 

Close to 2,000 people crowded into Wilbur Cross High School. Angela Munoz of Bridgeport says she’s been driving for ten years without a license.  

"I want my driver’s license. Because I need it for pick up my children. And I need my car for my job, too."

She says her children live in fear that she’ll be arrested.

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Higher Education
10:17 am
Fri March 1, 2013

Undocumented Students In Higher Education

A new report looks at the experiences of undocumented students at 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the US.  The study calls on institutions of higher education to improve policies that affect undocumented students.

Of the 65,000 undocumented students who graduate from high school each year, only about 5 to 10% go on to higher education. A new report finds inconsistency in the way colleges and universities manage undocumented students.

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Municipal Elections
8:21 am
Mon February 25, 2013

New Haven School Board - Appointed Or Elected?

Local municipalities open their charters for revision at least once every ten years. New Haven is in the midst of a charter revision process, and the issue getting the most attention, is whether the school board should remain appointed by the mayor.

In New Haven, the mayor appoints the entire school board and is also a member. 

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School Enrollment Guidelines
10:49 am
Mon February 18, 2013

Proposal To Raise The Enrollment Age For Kindergarten

Connecticut’s Education Committee will hear testimony Friday on a proposal that would raise the minimum enrollment age for kindergarten.

Supporters of the idea say it would improve teaching and learning because the age range in kindergarten is too wide. But critics say it would make things worse for low-income kids whose families may not be able to afford an extra year of preschool.

State Senator Andrea Stillman says children need to be mature enough to enter kindergarten.  

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Financing Higher Education
10:36 am
Mon February 18, 2013

A Look At The Cost Of College

As families struggle to keep up with skyrocketing higher education costs, the Obama Administration has unveiled a new website, which shows what most families end up paying for college: school-by-school.  

In his State of the Union address, President Obama announced the release of the new College Scorecard, "... that parents and students can use to compare schools based on a simple criteria – where you can get the most bang for your educational buck."

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School Closures
10:29 am
Mon February 18, 2013

What's Next For Displaced Students?

An investigation is underway into the abrupt closure several weeks ago of three career training schools in Connecticut. Displaced students had a chance Thursday to start to figure out what happens next.

Melissa Butler spent nearly a year training to be a medical assistant at the Sawyer School in Hamden. 

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9:24 am
Wed February 6, 2013

Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco Visits Yale

Diane Orson

Poet Richard Blanco, President Obama's 2nd inaugural poet, was in New Haven Tuesday. He spoke at an intimate gathering at Yale University. 

"One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores, peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces of the Great Lakes…"

Richard Blanco made history last month when he read his poem “One Today”. He’s the first Hispanic, openly gay and youngest poet to read at a presidential inauguration.

"One light. Waking up rooftops. Under each one, a story.. "

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Early Childhood Education
9:17 am
Wed February 6, 2013

Governor Malloy Proposes New Office Of Early Childhood

Advocates have been saying for years, that the needs of young children get lost inside Connecticut’s larger school system. 

Governor Malloy has just proposed a new Office of Early Childhood, focused exclusively on children ages zero to five years old.

Multiple state agencies have administered Connecticut’s early childhood programs, and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman says its been hard for parents to figure out.  

"To get through the bureaucratic mess in government was terrible. Because you’d have to go from one department to the other department."

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New Haven
11:38 am
Wed January 30, 2013

New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Will Not Seek Re-election

Diane Orson

Its official.  New Haven’s longest serving mayor, John DeStefano, will not seek re-election.  

As she introduced the mayor, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro said she couldn’t imagine the city of New Haven as vibrant a place today were it not for John DeStefano.  "He takes big gambles. He takes risks. And those risks have paid off for people."

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Gun Control
9:15 am
Wed January 30, 2013

Gun Violence Hearing Draws Nearly Two Thousand To Hartford

Diane Orson

Nearly two thousand people waited in snow and frigid temperatures Monday in order to attend a hearing of the Bipartisan Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety in Hartford. 

Gun control advocates and opponents talked with each other as they waited to pass through metal detectors at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

"If it was up to me I would mandate that every teacher have a carry permit."

Scott Hoffman is an avid deer and bird hunter from Suffield.

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Sexual Assault
9:58 am
Thu January 17, 2013

A Look At Sexual Violence Policies At CT Colleges And Universities

Connecticut’s colleges and universities have taken important steps to address and prevent sexual violence on campus. That’s according to the 2012 Campus Report Card. But there’s still work to be done to improve sexual assault training and education.

The prevalence of sexual violence on college campuses nationwide is staggering. Research shows that up to one in four women experience unwanted sexual intercourse during college, and one in twelve men admit to acts that meet the legal definition of rape. 

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Gun Control
10:21 am
Wed January 16, 2013

Gun Violence Survivors Urge Walmart To End Assault Weapon Sales

Diane Orson

Gun violence survivors and consumer advocates gathered at a  Wal-Mart store near Newtown Tuesday. They’re calling on the nation’s largest gun retailer to end assault weapon sales.

Nearly 300,000 Wal-Mart customers have signed an online petition urging the retail giant to stop selling assault weapons and munitions.

About sixty people met to deliver the petition to the Wal-Mart in Danbury, a few miles away from the site of the December massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Among the crowd were survivors of gun violence.

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11:48 am
Sun December 16, 2012

"Such Tragedy Must Not Go Unanswered"

Diane Orson

Prayer vigils were held across Connecticut and around the country this weekend for the victims of Friday’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown. 

Bells on the New Haven green tolled 27 times for each of those who died.

Several hundred people gathered Saturday evening for a candlelight vigil. They stood near the flagpole on the New Haven green, a few steps away from the glow of the city’s Christmas tree.

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Art Collection
8:22 am
Tue December 11, 2012

So Much To See, So Little Time!

Diane Orson

Wednesday marks the grand opening of the Yale University Art Gallery, following its 14-year renovation.  

Yale University Art Gallery Director Jock Reynolds is our guide. Time is short and with more than 200,000 objects in the museum’s collection we’re warned that its going to be a whirlwind tour. 

"You see here a great display of things from Mayan and Aztec cultures."

There’s a figure carved from manatee bone, colorful textiles and ceramics from Mexico and Costa Rica. I could spend all afternoon here, but gotta move on.

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Connecticut Museums
10:58 am
Mon December 10, 2012

Expanded Yale Art Gallery To Open This Week

Diane Orson

A newly renovated and expanded Yale University Art Gallery opens this week.  

"Look around you right now and you can see wonderful work by Sol LeWitt, David Smith.."  Yale Art Gallery Director Jock Reynolds stands in the Louis Kahn building on Chapel Street in New Haven.

The 1953 modernist structure has been connected to two adjacent buildings, the Old Yale Gallery and Street Hall.  The 135 million dollar renovation project virtually doubles the size of the museum.

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Global Affairs
8:48 am
Tue December 4, 2012

Tony Blair And Ernesto Zedillo Discuss Global Crises

Diane Orson

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo spoke Monday at Yale University.  They discussed global crises facing world leaders.  

Much of the discussion centered on the Middle East and the Israeli/Palestinean conflict. 

Tony Blair is a peace envoy to the region.  

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Education Reform
3:22 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Emergency Budget Cuts Protect Preschool Slots

Governor Malloy’s emergency budget cuts will affect early care and education in Connecticut, but they do not reduce additional preschool slots that were part of this year’s school reform package.

Early care and education programs focus on children birth through age 8 and can include child care and preschool services. The Governor made early childhood education a priority during the last legislative session, and included 1000 new preschool slots in low-income communities. 

On Wednesday his administration unveiled $170 million in wide-ranging spending cuts. 

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Health Care Training
6:14 pm
Tue November 27, 2012

Gateway Community College Trains Patient Navigators

Gateway Community College has created the state’s first Patient Navigator Program.  Students are trained to help people get the health care they need.

There’s a growing demand for Patient Navigators, says Vicki Bozzuto, dean of workforce development at Gateway Community College in New Haven.   "You might find a Patient Navigator in an emergency room, you might find them in a homeless shelter, you might find them on a street or in a doctor’s office."

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Community Violence
5:55 pm
Tue November 27, 2012

Attorney General Eric Holder In CT To Launch Anti-Violence Initiative

Diane Orson

Attorney General Eric Holder joined Connecticut officials in New Haven Tuesday to announce a new statewide anti-violence initiative.  The project involves face-to-face meetings with gang members who are most responsible for killings and homicides.

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Disaster Preparation
1:39 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

Towns Prepare Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plans

A project underway to help municipalities better prepare for natural disasters has taken on new meaning after Superstorm Sandy.  

Eugene Livshits, Regional Land Use planner with the South Central Regional Council of Governments, says extreme weather has underscored how important it is for municipalities to have pre-disaster plans in place.

"This is a pre-disaster mitigation grant awarded from the CT Dept of Emergency and Environmental Protection which basically goes through FEMA."

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Wildlife Conservation
1:29 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

Lonesome George May Not Be The Last Of His Species

When Lonesome George -  the famous giant Galapagos tortoise - died earlier this year, it was believed that he was the  last of his species.  But Yale University researchers say other tortoises of the same species may still be alive.

During his long life on the Galapagos Island of Pinta, Lonesome George was an icon of the conservation movement.  He was described by the Guinness Book of Word Records as "the rarest living creature".  

Lonesome George died last summer. 

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Funding Education
6:58 am
Tue November 13, 2012

Five School Districts Submit Race To The Top Applications

Five school districts in Connecticut have submitted proposals for the next round of  Race to the Top grants.  They’ll compete with districts nationwide for a share of nearly 400 million dollars in federal education funding.

This Race to the Top competition is open to school districts,  " ...and its specifically targeted to personalized learning."

David Low teaches engineering and math at New Haven’s Sound School.

"Now that has some chance of creating innovative solutions that will actually have some hope of succeeding in the 21st century."

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Health Care Regulation
10:40 am
Fri November 9, 2012

Regulating Pharmacies To Protect Public Health

Diane Orson

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro met Thursday in North Haven with public health officials and pharmacists.  She heard their views on how the federal government could better regulate compounding pharmacies. 

The fungal meningitis outbreak that infected more than 400 people and caused 31 deaths across the country has been traced to a pharmacy in Massachusetts.    

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Candidate Views on Education
1:47 pm
Fri November 2, 2012

Education And The Election

Education ranks high on the list of issues voters care about, according to a September survey by the Pew Research Center.   But voters haven’t heard many specifics on education policy from either President Barack Obama or Governor Mitt Romney during the campaign. 

That may be because the candidates share many similar views.

State Representative Gary Holder-Winfield describes education’s role in this presidential campaign as "rhetorical".

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Graduate Students
7:25 am
Thu October 25, 2012

Students Or Employees?

The National Labor Relations Board is expected to issue a decision soon that could affect graduate teaching assistants and researchers at private colleges and universities in Connecticut, and nationwide. 

The question boils down to this: are graduate students who work as teaching assistants and researchers, employees or students?

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9:25 am
Fri October 5, 2012

Ethiopian Music And Dance Ensemble "Fendika" To Perform In Connecticut

Chion Wolf

In the past decade, West African sounds and rhythm have become part of America’s musical mainstream.  Less well-known is music from East Africa  which blends African drumming with Middle Eastern melodic inflections.  

A music and dance ensemble will bring the sounds of Ethiopia to Connecticut this weekend. 

Endris Hassan is practicing his single stringed fiddle called the masenqo.  He's part of Fendika, a collective of musicians and dancers.

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