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Welcome to Florida

News & Politics Podcasts

Best selling author, award winning reporter and Florida native Craig Pittman is joined by radio personality and Florida transplant Chadd Scott to discuss the state's history, people, politics, environment, animals, current events and weirdness. You'll hear great storytelling and have great fun in each weekly episode.


United States


Best selling author, award winning reporter and Florida native Craig Pittman is joined by radio personality and Florida transplant Chadd Scott to discuss the state's history, people, politics, environment, animals, current events and weirdness. You'll hear great storytelling and have great fun in each weekly episode.








Episode 155: Hurricane Andrew

You can't tell the story of Florida without the story of Hurricane Andrew. That's what we're doing on this episode with the help of longtime University of Miami professor, Hurricane Andrew survivor, and author of "In the Eye of Hurricane Andrew," Eugene Provenzo. "Welcome to Florida" is presented by Windstorm Products, a Florida small business and the world's No. 1 online retailer of hurricane hardware products.


Episode 154: Saving the Grasshopper Sparrow

We start the episode discussing the "Path of the Panther" documentary which you can see now on Disney+. Our guests are authors Anders and Beverly Gyllenhaal whose book "A Wing and a Prayer: The Race to Save our Vanishing Birds" takes special interest in the Florida Seaside Sparrow. Follow the Gyllenhaal's on their blog, flyinglessons.us. On this episode, we mentioned White Oak Conservation in Yulee, Project Principalis and the Ivory Billed woodpecker and the Recovering America's Wildlife Act. If you're interested in this topic, check out previous episodes on flamingos, the Florida scrub jay, the bald eagle, Florida Panthers, North Atlantic right whales, the Florida Wildlife Corridor, Ed Ball and native plants. Hurricane season is here and that means it's time to get serious about securing your home or business from hurricane wind damage. The best people to do that are at windstormproducts.com.


Episode 153: Florida Master Naturalist

At "Welcome to Florida" we love celebrating Florida's ecology and wild animals as well as educating and introducing people to the same. That is much the same mission as the Florida Master Naturalist program. If you love this podcast, chances are, you'd be interested in taking one or more of their courses. Jeanne Murphy from Sensing Nature ecotours in Pinellas County is a long time Florida Master Naturalist instructor and tells us all about the program. Thank you to everyone who has visited patreon.com/welcometoflorida and supported the program at $5 per month. Craig and I deeply appreciate your help. Since we've reached our initial 20 patron goal, we'll be releasing an exclusive to Patreon bonus "behind the scenes" episode only for Patreon supporters on June 1, 2023 describing the origins of the show and how we put it together each week. You can sign up any time to enjoy member benefits.


Episode 152: Hotel Scarface

Lawn "care" giant TruGreen used its bought and paid for Florida legislators to sneak through a provision in the state budget forbidding cities and counties from regulating the use of fertilizer in summer months, fertilizer often spread by TruGreen, fertilizer which contains phosphorous and leads to blue-green algae blooms and the poisoning of Florida's water. Our guest this week is Roben Farzad, Miami native and author of "Hotel Scarface: Where Cocaine Cowboys Partied and Plotted to Control Miami." Miami in the late 1970s and early to mid-80s was a wild, violent, tropical paradise and horror show flush with drug cash, killers, CIA and superstars. Roben takes us there in the book. Follow Roben on Twitter @RobenFarzad and the book across social media using the hashtag #hotelscarface. Hurricane season is here and to secure your home or business from hurricane wind damage, look up windstormproducts.com.


Episode 151: Ybor City

Another episode, another example of trouble with the water in Florida. Our guest is Florida native, author, historian and professor Sara McNamara whose recently published book, "Ybor City: Crucible of the Latina South," details how the enclave of Cuban migrants evolved through the years and how it is distinguished from Cuban communities in Miami. If this subject interests you, previous episodes on early Cuban exiles to Miami and the Columbia Restaurant will be worth your while. Thank you to everyone who has signed up to support "Welcome to Florida" through our Patreon page. We have reached our goal of 20 Patron supporters at $5 a month and will be releasing a bonus "behind the scenes" episode of the podcast exclusively to our patrons in June. Of course, we'd love to have you be involved as well and you can sign up to support the show at any time. "Welcome to Florida" is additionally supported by Windstorm Products, the largest supplier of hurricane wind protection hardware in the world. Hurricane season starts in June, visit windstormproducts.com to find out if you're prepared.


Episode 150: Tallahassee

This week's episode takes us back to 1998 when wildfires ravaged Florida. Our guest is Florida State professor, journalist, author and 8th generation Tallahassee resident Diane Roberts. Her book, "Dream State: Eight Generations of Swamp Lawyers, Conquistadors, Confederate Daughters and other Wildlife" details her family's history across the backdrop of the state capital. She is also the author of a book about college football based on her experience as a lifelong Seminole fan. Remember to become a patron of "Welcome to Florida" if you enjoy the show and would like to support us for $5 a month at Patreon.


Episode 149: Oysters!

The state's elected officials continue ignoring the causes of climate change to the peril of everyone living in Florida. This week's episode focuses on oysters and a new documentary from a pair of native Floridians about the collapse of oyster reefs globally, Apalachicola Bay in particular. We mentioned the Chiles Hospitality Group's conservation efforts including its oyster shell reuse program. Oyster Brewing Company in Apalachicola, FL.


Episode 148: Solar Power in Florida

We discuss Florida's water quality problems in almost every episode of the show. Here's a new one: lead pipes. Did you know Florida receives only 5% of its electricity from solar power? Not good for the Sunshine State. That's why we receive an "F" from the Center for Biological Diversity when it comes to solar generation. Our guest this episode is James Fenton, Director of the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center. James will tell us about the history of solar power in Florida, where efforts stand today, and how you can pursue solar energy for your house with Solar United Neighbors. Don't forget to support "Welcome to Florida" through our Patreon page if you're able to. We're close to our 20 patron threshold at which point Craig and I will release a special bonus episode to our supporters through Patreon. Visit patreon.com/WelcometoFlorida.


Episode 147: Phosphate, Phosphorus and Toxic Blue-Green Algae

Following the terrible manatee die off in 2021, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided to take the drastic measure of supplementing the mammals' diet with human provided lettuce. How is the program working? Speaking of manatee, the reason they're dying is because blue green algae blooms are preventing the seagrass they feed on from receiving sunlight, which is essential for growth. The seagrass beds die off, the manatees lose their food source, and the manatees then starve to death. What's causing those blue green algae blooms, largely, is phosphorus runoff from agriculture in the form of fertilizer and manure. Our guest on this episode, Dan Egan, has a new book out for spring of 2023 entitled "The Devil's Element: Phosphorus and a World out of Balance." Not only is Florida ground zero for the negative effects of phosphorus, it is also the nation's leading supplier of the mineral. "Welcome to Florida" is sponsored by Windstorm Products. Visit windstormproducts.com for hurricane hardware and secure your home or business from the effects of hurricane wind damage.


Episode 146: Eatonville (America's first all-Black town)

What is ESG? It's Florida Republicans latest effort to distract from the spiraling living conditions in the state created under their watch by scaring white voters into believing a "woke agenda" threatens their way of life. This week's episode centers on Eatonville, the first all-Black town in America, incorporated in 1887. Craig recently focused one of his Florida Phoenix columns on efforts by residents there to fight off a development project for what is known as the Hungerford property, land Eatonville residents believe was stolen from them by the Orange County Public Schools. Our guests are Julian Johnson, founder of the 1887 First brand, and John Beacham, owner of Eatonville 1887 tours. SPOILER ALERT: John, Julian and the Eatonville residents have prevailed for now, forcing the developer of the Hungerford property to back out of the deal with Orange County Public Schools. You can support "Welcome to Florida" by becoming a monthly patron at Patreon.com/WelcometoFlorida. For just $5 per month you can take ownership in assuring the continuation of this podcast and once we've reached 20 patrons, Craig and I will release a special "behind the scenes" episode to our Patreon members.


Episode 145: North Atlantic Right Whales

Runaway, reckless development in Florida not only threatens the state's beautiful land, but its sky as well. Our guest is Julie Albert, right whale conservation program coordinator for the Marine Resources Council. To volunteer for whale watching, contact the Marine Resources Council above, or the Blue World Research Institute here. Information on the Right Whale Festival in Fernandina Beach, each November. If you'd like to support "Welcome to Florida" through our Patreon page, you can do so here.


Episode 144: The Daytona Beach Mastodon

A state legislator wants to take away the ability to manage water quality from local governments and give it to the state because the current law disadvantaged his nephew. Seriously. Our guest this episode is Zach Zacharias, history curator at the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach. He recalls for us the story of the discovery of The Daytona Beach Mastodon. Journey with us to Ice Age Florida. This episode of "Welcome to Florida" is brought to you by Windstorm Products. Visit windstormproducts.com to protect your home or business from hurricane wind damage.


Episode 143: Martin Luther King Jr. in St. Augustine

Martin Luther King Jr.'s time in St. Augustine, and St. Augustine's central place in the Civil Rights Movement, are among the most important and least discussed aspects of Florida history and civil rights history. There are obvious and surprising reasons for that. Flagler College history professor and civil rights author Michael Butler helps us understand what happened in St. Augustine during 1963 and 1964 and its critical role in the Civil Rights Movement. Follow Michael on Twitter @dr_mbutler.


Episode 142: The Beatles in Florida (1964)

Advocates for Florida Springs had to take the state Department of Environmental Protection to court for the terrible job its been doing protecting the state's drinking water from polluters. This week's guest Bob Kealing has joined us before to talk about Tupperware and Elvis. His latest book, "Good Day Sunshine State: How the Beatles Rocked Florida" takes us back to 1964 and the group's monumental visit to Florida and its various intersections with history. Chadd Scott's latest "My Favorite Florida" columns include Ron Jon Surf Shop and Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge.


Episode 141: Nikki Fried

Florida's State Attorney General is a villainous political hatchet queen. As Agriculture Commissioner, Nikki Fried was the last Democrat elected to a statewide office in Florida. We discuss the role of the state Agriculture Department from concealed carry firearm permits to state forests, invasive species, gasoline and Big Sugar. Fried was elected on February 25, 2023, as chair of the state Democratic Party. Thanks to Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota for hosting Chadd Scott to record this episode of the podcast.


Episode 140: Pensacola

This episode begins in Eatonville, home of Zora Neale Hurston, where, not surprisingly, developers are up to no good. Our guest is lifelong Pensacola resident and longtime Pensacola newspaper reporter and editor Carl Wernicke. We discuss Pensacola's past, present and future, Matt Gaetz, what he loves about Pensacola, and how the city is, and isn't, changing. Craig's from Pensacola as well! This week's episode is sponsored by WindstormProducts.com, the world's largest online retailer of hurricane hardware, as well as a retailer of the Quick Dam flood barrier, a fantastically helpful product if your home, garage or business is prone to water inundation. You can find Chadd Scott's writing about the Environmental Learning Center in Vero Beach and the A.E. Backus Museum in Fort Pierce at Rovology.com.


Episode 139: The Seminole Wars

This episode tackles one of the most confusing eras in Florida history, a critically important series of events, but one little acknowledged or studied: the Seminole Wars. There were three Seminole Wars, the first in the 18-teens and the final in the 1850s. Our guest is Joe Knetsch, historian and author of numerous Florida history books with an emphasis on the Seminole Wars.


Episode 138: Documentary filmmakers Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman

A treat today as Miami born, bred and based documentary filmmakers Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman join the show. Corben is the director and Spellman the producer for Rakontur, their company which has produced such favorites as "Cocaine Cowboys" and "The U." Their latest project, "God Forbid" begins with a pool boy at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach and ends with the election of Donald Trump and the collapse of the evangelical Falwell family. Watch it on Hulu.


Episode 137: Harriet Beecher Stowe and early Florida tourism

This episode begins with a rare conservation win in Florida against development. Savor the flavor. Our guest is author, historian and professor emeritus in anthropology at Florida A&M University John Foster. Foster has written numerous books on early Florida tourism and Harriet Beecher Stowe's role in it. We discussed Harriet Beecher Stowe at the Mandarin Museum.


Episode 136: Florida from 2000-2010

This episode of "Welcome to Florida" begins in Stuart. Our guest this week is author and historian Gary Mormino. Gary's most recent book, published in 2022, is titled "Dreams in the New Century: Instant Cities, Shattered Hopes and Florida's Turning Point." The book covers Florida in the first decade of the new millennium where an extraordinary sequence of stories from Elian Gonzalez to the contested Bush v. Gore election, 9/11, hurricanes, the housing bubble and global economic collapse, Barak Obama's election and the state's bend toward right wing politics dramatically altered Florida, the nation and the future of both.