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The Sound of Ideas

The Sound of Ideas: Archive by Date

March 2009

Credit Card Squeeze

Posted March 2, 2009

Credit card companies are canceling cards, cutting credit limits and raising rates. It's all part of an effort by banks to limit their risk. But consumers aren't happy. New regulations requiring credit card companies to be more consumer friendly are on the way but they don't take effect until 2010. Some U.S. Senators say there is no time to waste and they have proposed legislation that would put the new rules in place sooner. Guest host Tamara Keith who frequently covers business for NPR in Washington and Plain Dealer Consumer Columnist Sheryl Harris will discuss the trouble with credit cards and what you can do to protect yourself, Monday morning at 9 on The Sound of Ideas®.

Water Deparment Answers Critics - Sort Of

Posted March 3, 2009
Topics: Government/Politics, Other, Community/Human Interest, Miscellaneous

Some Cleveland-area residents have been getting the shock of their lives in recent weeks: water bills in the hundreds, or in some cases, thousands of dollars for normal residential consumption. To make matters worse, many have complained they got ineffective and often rude service when they called the water department to complain. What does the Water Department have to say for itself and how does it plan to rectify the situation? Find out Tuesday morning at 9:00 for The Sound of Ideas.

Why the Bus is Becoming Cool Again

Posted March 4, 2009
Topics: Economy, Regional Economy/Business - Analysis and Trends, Other, Community/Human Interest, Energy, Transportation

Planning a cross country trip? Need to get from college to home? Hoping to spend a day gambling or sightseeing? As the economy struggles, people still want to travel but are looking for cost effective ways to get where they're going. Some have found their way past the "Loser Cruisers" and "Smelly Bus." Carriers like megabus.com and Bolt Bus are connecting major cities with brand new, comfortable, internet equipped busses. And they're attracting a different, hipper, clientele than the traditional bus lines. It's an economical and green alternative to driving. Could this be transportation government should get behind? Wednesday morning at 9 on 90.3.

Thursday Reporters’ Roundtable

Posted March 5, 2009
Topics: Economy, Regional Economy/Business - Analysis and Trends, Education, Government/Politics

An engineering study due out Thursday is expected to confirm that Cleveland's new downtown convention center can be built on the site of the old one. John Carroll University will force non-teaching staffers to take a two-week unpaid sabbatical. The state's jobless rate shot up to 8.8 per cent last month with an especially sharp rise in some of Cuyahoga's neighboring counties. More people are licensed to pack heat. The state says applications for permits to carry concealed weapons jumped by more than 50 per cent last year. Join us as we discuss the week's top stories Thursday at 9:00 a.m. on 90.3.

Who Benefits from Unemployment Benefits

Posted March 6, 2009
Topics: Economy, Help Wanted, Government/Politics, Health, Other, Aging/The Elderly, Community/Human Interest

Jobs are disappearing. Ohio's unemployment rate is the highest since 1985. State unemployment funds are diminishing and they've begun borrowing money from the federal government to pay benefits. We can't fill out the unemployment compensation application for you but we can walk you through the process. We'll have experts to answer your questions about who's covered how much money they can get and for how long, and explain how the stimulus plan helps those who weren't eligible before. How to benefit most from unemployment benefits, Friday at 9 on 90.3.

Science Cafe: What is Intelligence?

Posted March 9, 2009
Topics: Other, Aging/The Elderly, Community/Human Interest, Miscellaneous, Parenting/Child Care

What makes someone smart? Is it intelligence, creativity or wisdom? While Albert Einstein is often recognized as a genius, his teachers told his parents he was “too stupid to learn.” How come someone can explain complex physics but be socially inept? Join us for a Science Café conversation about intelligence. Local psychology professors share what IQ tests really reveal and whether effort can increase intelligence. Learn how intelligence is tested in babies and how that same test can help diagnose Alzheimers. The smarts on smart, Monday at 9 on 90.3.

Green Collar Jobs

Posted March 10, 2009
Topics: Economy, Help Wanted, Making Change, Environment, Government/Politics

A state that flourished in a blue collar past might find a future in green collar jobs. The Obama administration’s stimulus billions for alternative and renewable energy is aimed at generating millions of jobs, especially in states with workers who have the skills to produce wind turbines and solar energy panels. Tuesday on the Sound of Ideas, we'll explore Ohio's potential in the coming green economy. We'll define green jobs and talk about how to get one. Join us Tuesday at 9:00.

Alternatives to Layoffs

Posted March 11, 2009
Topics: Economy, Regional Economy/Business - Analysis and Trends, Health

Seems every time you open the paper, turn on the news, or even talk to a friend - someone has been laid off from work. Ohio’s unemployment figures rose to 8.8 percent in January. But many employers are looking to alternatives to layoffs in order to keep valuable employees by paying them less. Furloughs, or unpaid time off and salary reductions are increasingly common methods for businesses to cut costs. Other options to layoffs include cutting employee health care coverage, reductions in travel expenses and canceling the 401K match. Human Resource and workforce industry experts join us to share how businesses decide what’s best for them when expenses have to be cut. Tough measures in tough times, Wednesday morning at 9 on 90.3.

Thursday Reporters’ Roundtable

Posted March 12, 2009
Topics: Economy, Regional Economy/Business - Analysis and Trends, Government/Politics, Other, Courts/Crime - Fire/Law Enforcement

A private investigation concludes Bratenahl's retired police chief did a poor job of running his department. Justice Department investigators say they'll look into community complaints about a pair of recent police-involved shootings in Akron. United Auto Workers agree to trade some pay and benefits for a guarantee of job stability at Cleveland-area plants; and despite a law aimed at limiting the interest rates charged by payday lenders, critics say lenders are charging more than ever. Join us for discussion of these and other stories Thursday morning at 9:00 on 90.3.

Stem Cell Research in Northeast Ohio

Posted March 13, 2009
Topics: Economy, Regional Economy/Business - News, Health, Children's Health, Other, Aging/The Elderly, Community/Human Interest, Technology

President Obama decided this week to remove federal restrictions on embryonic stem cell research and that just may give a boost to the biomedical industry in NE Ohio. For 20 years Ohio has been a leader in developing medical applications for stems cells, not the kind that come from human embryos but stem cells obtained from adults, children and umbilical cords. Unlike embryonic stem cells, these so-called “adult” stem cells have already resulted in beneficial treatments for patients with Parkinson’s disease, cancer, stroke and other ailments. Now those researchers plan to expand their work to include stem cells from embryos. They expect to be among the first institutions and businesses to get federal grants. So, what are the differences between adult and embryonic stem cells; what additional benefits could come from research on embryonic ones; and how exactly might this looming industry help the regional economy? Getting to the stem of stem cell research, Friday morning at 9 on 90.3.

The Painful Process of Parish Closings

Posted March 16, 2009
Topics: Economy, Other, Community/Human Interest, Ethics/Religion

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland is closing parishes. It's a wrenching process church leaders say is necessary. Most of the churches are in the city but most Catholics now live in the suburbs. A number of parishes are having trouble paying their bills. Plus, there's a priest shortage. These problems are not unique to Northeast Ohio. In fact, Cleveland’s Bishop Lennon was the architect of a contentious church closing process in Boston about five years ago. He oversaw the shuttering of his own childhood church. But the Cleveland diocese says closing some parishes is necessary to remain vibrant. Dan Moulthrop returns to lead a conversation about the churches slated to close what it will mean for parishioners. Monday morning at 9 on the Sound of Ideas®.

Trying Crimes Against Humanity

Posted March 17, 2009
Topics: Government/Politics, Other, Courts/Crime - Fire/Law Enforcement, Ethics/Religion, Terrorism

When Saddam Hussein was tried in Baghdad, he refused to recognize the legitimacy of the court. Years earlier, Slobodan Milosevic did the same at The Hague. Two new war crimes trials are set to begin this month--one in Cambodia against former members of the Khmer Rouge and another in Europe against Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. The threat of debilitating protests by the defendants hangs over both trials. A group of international war crimes lawyers is in Cleveland this week to preview the trials, and they'll join us Tuesday morning at 9 for a conversation about why war crimes trials are important for humankind.

Help for Harried Homeowners

Posted March 18, 2009
Topics: Economy, Facing the Mortgage Crisis, Government/Politics, Other, Community/Human Interest, Housing/Real Estate

Cuyahoga County continues to lead the state in foreclosures with nearly 14,000 new filings last year. Meanwhile, Lorain County has the fastest five-year growth rate in foreclosures among urban counties while Summit county actually saw a decline of 16% in its foreclosures in 2008. President Obama’s Making Home Affordable plan is meant to help some of them and more who are at risk of foreclosure… some 9 million Americans. On The Sound of Ideas, housing industry experts join us to talk about what help is available for struggling homeowners, how to get it before it’s too late, and warn about new rescue scams. Real help for real people, tomorrow on 90.3.

Thursday Reporters’ Roundtable

Posted March 19, 2009
Topics: Economy, Regional Economy/Business - Analysis and Trends, Government/Politics, Other, Transportation

If we build it, will they come? A national public works critic raises that question about the proposed Cleveland convention center and Medical Mart and suggests the answer will be 'no.' Governor Strickland still gets a thumbs-up from a majority of Ohioans, but his approval numbers are down from earlier this year. A stormy business climate has washed out a number of retail outlets in greater Cleveland and City View center in Garfield Heights is on shaky ground. Join us for discussion of these and other stories Thursday morning at 9:00 on 90.3.

Bringing Films to Fruition

Posted March 20, 2009
Topics: Arts and Culture, Economy, Regional Economy/Business - News, Other, Community/Human Interest

ACTION! That’s what a New York film company wants in downtown Cleveland. NEHST studios has agreed to locate a studio in the Cleveland convention center, hoping to start productions next month. The owners pledge to spend $80 to $100 million over the next two years making movies in Northeast Ohio. It could be the start of something big for the local economy. But if the state legislature doesn’t agree on tax incentives, the film company will say “CUT.” On the opening day of the Cleveland International Film Festival, we’ll have a sneak preview and talk about productions that are already rolling in Northeast Ohio as Cleveland dreams of becoming a major movie town.

Ohio March Madness

Posted March 23, 2009
Topics: Arts and Culture, Other, Community/Human Interest

Believe it or not, Ohio sent more teams than any other state to the NCAA Men's basketball tournament this year. Xavier, Ohio State, Dayton, the University of Akron and Cleveland State were all invited to the "Big Dance." Sadly, only Xavier remains in the tournament and headed for the sweet sixteen. But March Madness has overtaken Ohio with power houses such as Xavier and feel-good Cinderella stories such as Cleveland State. Don't forget "Hoops Hysteria!" Both Xavier and OSU are competing for the women's title. If nothing else college hoops give us a chace to talk about something positive for a change and forget about our economic woes. Ohio March Madness Monday at 9am on The Sound of Ideas®.

Trains, Trucks and Speed Cameras

Posted March 24, 2009
Topics: Other, Community/Human Interest, Courts/Crime - Fire/Law Enforcement, Transportation

Passenger rail is building a head of steam. State lawmakers from both parties are inclined to use a chunk of federal stimulus money to start up a train connecting Cleveland with Columbus and Cincinnati. But if the service is provided will people use it? It's an open question. Meanwhile lawmakers are suggesting changes for highways too. One proposal would allow trucks to drive as fast as cars on the interstates. Another would use automatic cameras to monitor speeding in construction zones. Regina Brett and guests talk road and rail Tuesday morning at 9:00 on The Sound of Ideas.

Wanna Buy a Toxic Asset?

Posted March 25, 2009
Topics: Economy, Facing the Mortgage Crisis, Regional Economy/Business - Analysis and Trends, Regional Economy/Business - News, Government/Politics

This week, the U.S. Treasury cheered investors with the announcement of a new program to subsidize their investments in what they're calling "legacy assets." Obama administration officials say it should be enough to get the toxic sub-prime mortgage securities off of bank balance sheets and into the hands of investors and their new taxpayer partners. Last week, the Federal Reserve pulled a new hammer out of the tool box--something called "quantitative easing," which is Fed-speak for "print more money." These two programs have dramatically shifted dynamics in the world of finance. Markets rallied and lenders loosened their grip, but can this change the recession? We'll find out Wednesday morning at 9, and we'll talk about what you need to know about how the government is trying to get the wheels of the economy spinning smoothly again.

Reporters’ Roundtable

Posted March 26, 2009
Topics: Economy, Government/Politics, Other, Courts/Crime - Fire/Law Enforcement

Our top story: Cuyahoga County Sheriff Gerald McFaul resigns. Also, dire statistics continued to pile up this week: statewide unemployment figures topped nine percent, home values are down by a third in Summit County, retail vacancy rates hit double digits... On our reporters' roundtable, we'll talk about those and other stories about the economy's toll on our region. Also, we'll get the backstory on Cleveland city council's new ward boundaries and new drug laws, and the Cuyahoga County sheriff's new expensive and fairly impractical assault rifles. Join the conversation Thursday morning at 9.

Keeping the Public’s Business Public

Posted March 27, 2009
Topics: Government/Politics, Other, Community/Human Interest, Courts/Crime - Fire/Law Enforcement

Allegations of back room deals and mishandling of tax payers' dimes have left a cloud over local government in Northeast Ohio. Cleveland City Council’s redistricting process, Cuyahoga County’s Medical Mart/Convention Center deal, and even the handling of the federal stimulus package – all have received criticism for lack of public input or open access. The controversies raise questions about official secrecy and the adequacy of "sunshine laws." Are existing laws sufficient to ensure the public really has a seat at the table? If so, are they being enforced? We’ll talk to a legal expert on public access issues and to Susan Goldberg, editor of The Plain Dealer, about the press’ role as a public watchdog. We hope to hear your take as well about keeping the public's business public, Friday at 9 on 90.3.

What Can Pittsburgh Teach Us?

Posted March 30, 2009

More than 30 years ago, rust belt cities -- Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Cleveland and Detroit -- began to falter. Corporate headquarters relocated, steel mills closed, jobs disappeared. Few have found their footing in this post-industrial economy. But then there's Pittsburgh. The Places Rated Almanac named it the "Most Livable" city in 2007. This year, Business Week said it's one of the "Best Cities for Riding out the Recession." Our neighbor and rival seems a whole lot closer to economic boom times than Greater Cleveland. On the Sound of Ideas®, lessons from a Tale of Two Cities. Monday morning at 9 on 90.3.

Confronting Teen Drinking

Posted March 31, 2009
Topics: Health, Children's Health, Other, Parenting/Child Care

Toren Volkmann spent his college years like many young people--going to class, doing just enough homework to get by but in his case also getting blind drunk every weekend. A year after graduation, he had a Peace Corps assignment in South America and a worsening drinking problem. His parents had no idea about the problem, until he called them from a rehab facility. Volkmann and his mother Chris tell their family's recovery story in their book From Binge to Blackout. They're in northeast Ohio this week, and they join us Tuesday morning at 9 for some important lessons about parenting.


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Funding for Ideas/Sound of Ideas comes from The George Gund Foundation, The Cleveland Foundation, Eaton, the George W. Codrington Charitable Foundation, The Robert O. and Annamae Orr Family Foundation, and the Nord Family Foundation.