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Local news, reporting and newscasts from Vermont Public Radio

Ask Bob: As candidates vie for a rare Vermont vacancy, when was the last time a House and Senate seat were both open?

Tue, 07 Dec 2021 6:00am

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Sen. Patrick Leahy will not seek another term in office, planning to retire after serving 48 years in the U.S. Senate. Shortly after that, Rep. Peter Welch announced he would seek Leahy’s Senate seat. It’s a rare Vermont vacancy in both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House, something that’s only happened a handful of times over the last century.

Vermont Edition Podcast

Vermont Edition brings you news and conversation about issues affecting your life. Hosts Jane Lindholm and Bob Kinzel consider the context of current events through interviews with news makers and people who make our region buzz.

Eye On The Sky Podcast

The Eye On The Sky is Vermont's weather service. It is a production of the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium and Vermont Public Radio.

Brave Little State Podcast

What if you could decide what stories Vermont Public Radio should be covering, before they're even assigned? That's the idea behind Brave Little State.

An investigation into a prominent Vermont landlord

Thu, 11 Nov 2021 12:14pm

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A joint investigation into a growing rental empire finds a pattern of neglect — and reveals how ill-equipped Vermont is to oversee the quality and safety of some of the state's most affordable housing.

What would it take to end Daylight Saving Time?

Fri, 05 Nov 2021 11:05am

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As we enter the darkest season of the year, you may be wondering: Why do we have to fall back and spring ahead? And is there anything that can be done about it? That’s what Olga Ardova of Georgia asked us.

How's Vermont's Amish community doing?

Thu, 21 Oct 2021 3:32pm

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To answer this question from Dean Lehrke of Kansas, reporter Elodie Reed travels to the Northeast Kingdom to explore the ways that isolated Amish families have become fixtures in their Vermont community.

NEXT New England Podcast

<p><strong>NEXT</strong> was a radio show and podcast that aired its final episode in May 2021 after a successful five-year run. The weekly program focused on New England, one of America's oldest places, at a time of change. NEXT was produced at Connecticut Public Radio and featured stories from journalists across the New England News Collaborative. Most recently, the program was hosted by Morgan Springer.</p> <p>With New England as our laboratory, NEXT asked questions about how we power our society, how we move around, and how we adapt. Through reporting and interviews, we explored:&nbsp;<em>Where are we now? How did we get here? And what's next?</em></p> <p>The New England News Collaborative is a regional partnership of public media stations, with Connecticut Public as the lead station. Partners include Maine Public, New England Public Media, New Hampshire Public Radio, Vermont Public Radio, WBUR, WGBH, WCAI, and WSHU. Vanessa de la Torre is the NENC&rsquo;s executive editor.</p>

NEXT’s Goodbye — And What’s To Come From The New England News Collaborative

Tue, 01 Jun 2021 7:00am

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After five years on air, our weekly program NEXT has ended. The show focused on New England at a time of change and featured stories from journalists across the New England News Collaborative. The good news is that these powerful stories aren’t going away. We are ramping up our next phase of New England reporting to bring you more news and conversations from the region. Executive Editor Vanessa de la Torre explains what’s ahead for the New England News Collaborative, and how you can follow our work. See for privacy information.

The Final Episode: How Boston Poet Laureate Porsha Olayiwola Reimagines History; Protesters Reflect On The Year That Changed Us

Thu, 27 May 2021 9:25am

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On the final episode of NEXT, Boston Poet Laureate Porsha Olayiwola talks about the evolution of her poetry, and how she uses futurism to reimagine history. Plus, protesters reflect on what has changed — or not — in the year since George Floyd’s murder. We also speak with band members of Lake Street Dive about their latest album, “Obviously.” And finally, to mark the end of NEXT, Executive Editor Vanessa de la Torre joins us to explain what’s ahead for the New England News Collaborative. See for privacy information.

Reflecting On ‘Surviving The White Gaze’; Why Green Burials Are Surging In Popularity

Thu, 20 May 2021 10:34am

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Rebecca Carroll’s new memoir details her experiences as a Black child raised by adoptive white parents in rural New Hampshire. This week on NEXT, Carroll talks about “Surviving The White Gaze.” Plus, epidemiologist and physician Dr. Sandro Galea on the impact of structural issues on public health — and how we should prepare for the next pandemic. And we learn about the practice of “green” burials, and why they’re becoming more popular. See for privacy information.

‘It’s Like Climbing Up A Mudslide’: Pandemic Pushes Women Out Of The Workforce

Thu, 13 May 2021 9:51am

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Millions of people in the U.S. left the workforce as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. A majority of them were women. This week on NEXT, we hear from women who left their jobs and talk with an expert about the stressors  — and what recovery might look like. Plus, high school English teacher Takeru Nagayoshi on what he’s learned in this past year of hybrid teaching. And we remember trans activist and ballroom icon Jahaira DeAlto. See for privacy information.

Alison Bechdel On ‘The Secret To Superhuman Strength'; Advocates Push Colleges To Hire More Black-Owned Firms To Oversee Investments

Thu, 06 May 2021 9:43am

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Alison Bechdel’s new graphic novel depicts her life through fitness. This week on NEXT, we talk with Bechdel about ‘The Secret to Superhuman Strength,' which is more about a state of being than six-pack abs. Plus, advocates make the case for colleges to hire more diverse financial firms to manage billion-dollar endowments. And scholar-activist Katharine Morris reflects on her experience at the intersection of racism, environmental justice and public health, and her framework for moving forward. See for privacy information.

But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids Podcast

But Why is a show led by kids. They ask the questions and we find the answers. It’s a big interesting world out there. On But Why, we tackle topics large and small, about nature, words, even the end of the world. Know a kid with a question? Record it with a smartphone. Be sure to include your kid's first name, age, and town and send the recording to!

How Are Babies Made?

Fri, 03 Dec 2021 8:30am

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How are babies made? We speak with Cory Silverberg, author of What Makes A Baby, for answers to questions about how we all come into the world. This is a conversation that welcomes all kinds of families as we answer questions about why babies don't hatch out of eggs, why boys have nipples, why girls have babies but boys don't and why some people look more like one parent more than the other. Later in the episode we also explore how we get our last names and how two people can have the same last name when they're not related. We made this episode with our youngest listeners in mind, but parents may want to preview this episode on their own or listen with their kids. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript "How are babies made?" - Wade, 7, Charlottesville, Va. In his book What Makes a Baby, Cory Silverberg begins by reminding kids and grownups that there are really two questions: what makes a baby in general, and then the more specific question that is unique to you--where did you come from? That's a question that only your parent or parents or the adults who love you can answer. While there are lots of ways that babies join families, some things are true for all of us. “For all humans to be born we need three things. We need to start with an egg; we need to start with a sperm; and those come from two different bodies. And then we need a third body part which is called a uterus. That's where we grow, where this tiny, tiny thing grows into a baby, which is the thing you are when you are born," Silverberg explains. Book recommendations from Cory Silverberg Books Geared to Kids 4 - 7 (ish) What Makes a Baby By Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth A book about where babies come from that works for every kind of family, regardless of who is in it and how the child came to be. What's the Big Secret: Talking about Sex with Girls and Boys By Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown A simplified and clear introduction to reproduction, genitals, and touch. Leaves out a lot of kids and families, but better than most. Who Are You? The Kid's Guide to Gender Identity by Brook Pessin-Whedbee and Naomi Bardoff Also simplified, but a good introduction on gender identity written and illustrated for younger children. Books Geared to Kids 7 to 10 (ish) The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Younger Girls By Valorie Schaefer and Josee Masse Only for girls, and not trans inclusive, but still one of the best books to cover a range of sexuality and puberty related topics. It's So Amazing! A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families By Robie Harris and Michael Emberly Covers reproduction including intercourse gestation and birth, with a focus on heterosexual, gender normative parents and kids. Sex Is a Funny Word By Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth Covers body parts, boundaries, touch, and an extensive gender section for kids and families of all identities and orientations. Stacey's Not a Girl By Colt Keo-Meier, illustrated by Jesse Yang A picture book about a kid who knows they aren't a girl, but isn't sure if they are a boy.

Do skyscrapers scrape the sky?

Fri, 19 Nov 2021 4:15pm

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Why is the Burj Khalifa so tall? That’s what 5-year-old Simon wants to know. The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world and it’s located in Dubai. 6-year-old Isabel, who lives in Dubai, visited the tower and gives us the bird’s eye view in this episode! Plus, Janny Gédéon, architecture educator and founder of ArchForKids answers lots more questions about tall buildings: How are tall buildings built? How do they stay up? Why are so many buildings squares or rectangles? How do they make buildings that are taller than cranes? Resources Architecture workshops and online learning: ArchForKids Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slides | Transcript Why is the Burj Khalifa so tall? - Simon, 5, Chicago The Burj Khalifa is 160 stories tall. It measures over 2,716 feet tall – or if you think in metric that’s 828 meters. “If you put 450 grown ups stacked on top of each other, that would be the height of the building,” Janny Gedeon says. Architecture is the science of designing buildings. Architects consider the purpose of the building and what it will be used for and then they design that space. Square and rectangular buildings are less expensive to build, but architects do like to design buildings in interesting shapes. Check out the Lipstick Building in New York or the Gherkin in London, or the Sydney Opera House. Tall buildings are more common in cities because they allow more people to live in a smaller space. They have to build vertically to fit more people in a small area. “The footing, the space that the building takes is not that big, so they have to build up,” Janny says. The footing is like your footprint, the amount of space you take on the ground. Manhattan is built on a very strong rock, so it can support those tall buildings. Buildings stay up in much the same way humans stay up. There are footings--think of them like feet--that go into the ground. Buildings have a skeleton, called a structural frame, kind of like bones in a human. And on the outside, they have a cladding, aluminum or glass or other materials, kind of like our skin. Wind is a big consideration for architects building tall buildings. They design the buildings to sway. If buildings are too brittle they will break, they are designed to sway. Most skyscrapers get narrower toward the top. In earthquake prone areas, buildings sometimes have footings on a track so they can move. Activity Try making the tallest tower you possibly can, just using paper. (Newspaper works great if you have some newsprint lying around. But printer paper or construction paper is fine, too.) You should focus on making it strong and stable. Strong means that it can hold something. Stable means that if it’s pushed to the side it can stay upright. You can use cardboard for the base, but otherwise, see how you can do with just paper. Need a hint? Janny says to think about the ways you’d stay stable when playing sports.

How do squirrels climb trees?

Fri, 05 Nov 2021 11:50am

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Squirrels are everywhere. Three hundred or so species of these often adorable rodents live on every continent except Antarctica. No matter where you live, city or country you’re bound to have squirrels nearby. How much do you know about our bushy-tailed neighbors? How fast do squirrels and chipmunks run? Why do squirrels have big bushy tails? Do squirrels get sick? Why do they like nuts better than berries? How do squirrels eat acorns? How do squirrels sleep? Are squirrels nocturnal?  Answers to your squirrel questions with Ben Dantzer, scientist at University of Michigan. Plus some observational activities you can do to learn more about squirrel behavior! Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slides | Transcript Submit your squirrel observations to iNaturalist How do squirrels climb up trees? -Rachel, 5, Alabama Squirrels have long nails and they have five digits (fingers or toes) on their paws just like us.  And squirrels are expert climbers. “Some tree, or arboreal, squirrels are really well adapted to climb up trees whereas ground squirrels also have nails or claws, but they use them primarily for digging and not for climbing,” explains Ben Dantzer. “Tree squirrels have this especially long middle digit that helps them climb up and down trees.” So an extra long middle finger and they can do something else that humans can’t. “The most helpful thing they can do is when they climb down a tree, squirrels can turn their back feet around when they’re climbing down head first. They turn their rear feet entirely around so they can use those claws to hang down from a tree and walk down easily.” What? Tree squirrels can turn their feet all the way around so they’re backwards when the squirrel is climbing down a tree?! Time to go outside and see if you can observe that in the wild!

Why is it a shot? Kids’ questions about COVID vaccines

Fri, 22 Oct 2021 5:15pm

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The FDA recently gave emergency use authorization to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for kids age 5 to 11. With all the news and conversation about this development, kids are curious to know more about the Covid vaccine--and vaccines in general! So in this episode we answer questions from kids and parents, including: Why does it have to be a shot? How do vaccines work? How does a vaccine trial work? Should an 11.5yo get the shot as soon as it’s available or wait until age 12 to get the larger dose? We speak with Sofia and Nico Chavez and their parents. The kids took part in the vaccine trial at Stanford University. We’re also joined by Dr. Jenna Bollyky, an investigator in the Stanford trial site, and Dr. Mark Levine, Vermont’s Health Commissioner. Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slides | Transcript Strategies to prepare kids for shots Vaccine Info from the CDC. “Why do they have to use needles for shots?”  - Nina, 6, Maryland “In general, vaccines are a way to train your immune system without having to get sick,’ explains Dr. Bollyky Your immune system is how your body works to fight off sickness from things like viruses. Most vaccines use a small protein from the virus you want to fight, or from a similar virus – and they put that little protein in your body in a very small and weakened or changed amount to help your body learn how to fight the real invader. But giving the vaccine as a drink or a pill wouldn’t work, because of your stomach acid! “Whenever we want to give a protein or something that your body turns into a protein, the acid in the stomach does a really good job of breaking down that protein. So it’s really hard to get a vaccine that comes as a pill,” Bollyky says. “Why can’t we drink medicine to keep us safe from the virus, instead of shots? - Eloise, 5, Texas In order to get that vaccine into your muscle, where it needs to go, a doctor or a nurse uses a thin needle. They do have to poke you, but that doesn’t mean they like it. “If we could give it as a pill we would,” Dr. Bollyky promises! While that poke might hurt, sometimes the anticipation of the shot is worse than the real thing. The reason your arm sometimes aches after getting a shot is that the immune cells are coming to be educated. “The cells around where the medication was delivered, they’re doing their job, they’re taking in the information they need and are starting to train your immune system,” Dr. Bollyky assures us. “So that immune response is exactly what you want to teach your body to fight the infection should you encounter the real virus later.” It’s normal to feel a little tired or run down after some vaccines, including the COVID vaccine. But if you feel very ill, you should contact a doctor or health care provider.

How Do Apples Grow?

Fri, 08 Oct 2021 10:20am

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Why do apples have stems? Why do fruits start out as flowers? How did the first apple grow when no one was there to plant its seed? Why can you make a seedless grape and not a seedless apple? Why are apples so juicy? How is apple juice made? Why are apples hard and pears soft? In this episode we take a field trip to Champlain Orchards in Shoreham, Vermont to learn more about apples. Our guides are 10-year-old Rupert Suhr, his father, Bill, and apple expert Ezekiel Goodband.  Download our learning guides: PDF | Google Slide | Transcript  Flower to Fruit Image Why are some fruits a flower before they’re fruit? - Grayson, 8, San Jose, California Actually ALL fruits start as flowers (but not all flowers turn into fruit). Growing fruit is a way that some plants reproduce. Fruit is the nice ripe container that holds the seeds, which humans or animals will eat and then spread around (often through their poop), allowing new plants to grow. But that process begins with a flower. The outer part of the flower often has beautiful colors and shapes and smells—and that’s all part of the way the plant tries to attract a bee or other pollinator: “The flower has an ovary at the base of the petals. The petals are enticing a bee to come with the pollen from another blossom that it’s visited and there’s some nectar that the bee can collect and while the bee is doing that it’s shedding some pollen,” explains Ezekiel Goodband. “That pollen completes the information that the apple needs to start growing. So the flower is to attract the bee.” That ovary at the base of the flower will start to grow and that will become the apple that you eat. If you look at the bottom of an apple—the opposite end of where the stem is attached to the tree—you can actually see where the flower used to be. It even kind of looks a little bit like a tiny flower.

Outdoor Radio Podcast

The Vermont Center for Ecostudies and VPR unite the sounds and science of nature in this monthly feature. The program is hosted by biologists Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra, who share their knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm for wildlife education and conservation.

Outdoor Radio: Invasive Zebra Mussels

Wed, 16 Dec 2020 10:39am

Zebra Mussels are an invasive species in Lake Champlain. Not only do they consume a great deal of the food supply in the lake, but they also attack native mussel species by sticking to them and robbing them of fresh water and food. The Zebra Mussel can reach a density of 100,000 per square meter, covering exhaust and intake pipes for water treatment and power plants.

Outdoor Radio: On The Hunt For Invasive Worms

Wed, 21 Oct 2020 9:17am

There are 19 species of worms in Vermont. Three of them are considered invasive; they are known as snake worms or jumping worms. These busy, invasive worms change the forest floor and the content of the soil, making it difficult for new growth to take root. This affects the habitat and food source of wildlife and the future of the forest itself.

Outdoor Radio: Little Bee On A White Flower

Fri, 28 Aug 2020 8:00am

Fen grass-of-Parnassus has a beautiful white flower that blooms from mid-August to mid-September in Vermont. It is the sole food source for a rare species of bee, which are only referred to by their Latin name, andrena parnassiae.

Outdoor Radio: "Backyard Biodiversity"

Tue, 23 Jun 2020 10:17am

In these times of social distancing, when people can feel disconnected from one another, it's important to realize that nature is just outside your door. From bird songs to green frogs' croaking chatter, stay connected to the outdoors by exploring your own "backyard biodiversity."

Outdoor Radio: Red-winged Blackbirds "A True Sign Of Spring"

Wed, 29 Apr 2020 12:13pm

Birdwatchers know that when they see the Red-winged Blackbird return, spring is on its way. These birds are numerous and everywhere. The males are stark-black with a red epaulette, a striking flash of color on their wings, that they use to attract mates and ward off other competing males.

VPR Classical Timeline Podcast

Join VPR Classical host James Stewart on a journey into the events, characters and concepts that shaped our Western musical tradition. We'll start at the very beginning and trace the steps of music through history. This music, and its history, is ours.

209 - J H Kwabena Nketia

Mon, 29 Nov 2021 11:13am

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On September 27, 2017, the nation of Ghana gathered to celebrate the life and music of 96 year old composer Kwabena Nketia. On that day it was declared that, “…Professor Nketia’s life symbolizes the evolution of our nation in the 20th century…a bridge between our indigenous culture and modern culture, non-literate and literate traditions, old and young artists, Ghana and Africa...” The event was also held to raise funds to archive Nketia’s lifelong work of ethnomusicology. According to the University of Ghana, Nketia had collected, “thousands of archival files and field notes on Ghanaian culture, history, language and arts.”

208 - Abdullah Ibraim (1934 - )

Mon, 15 Nov 2021 9:18am

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Abdullah Ibraim, also known as Dollar Brand, was born Adolph Johannes Brand in Cape Town, South Africa in 1934. He started taking piano lessons at the age of seven and was performing professionally by the time he was 15. Brand was of mixed-race so under the South African apartheid system, he was considered “colored.”

207 - Justinian Tamusuza

Mon, 08 Nov 2021 11:53am

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Justinian Tamusuza is one of the premiere, contemporary African composers today. His music has been compared to American minimalist composers like Steve Reich and John Adams. However, what sets Tamusuza apart is his use of rhythm that calls to mind the pulse of traditional African music.

Francis Bebey (1929-2001)

Mon, 01 Nov 2021 10:00am

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We continue our series on African composers by exploring the life, music and legacy of Cameroonian composer, Francis Bebey.

205 - A Conversation with Akiko Fujimoto

Mon, 25 Oct 2021 10:10am

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Last year, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra’s long-time music director, Jaime Laredo, stepped down after over 20 years with the orchestra. Now, the VSO has several candidates to fill that position. They’ll be coming to Vermont, meeting with the orchestra and the audience, as well as conducting concerts this coming season. The first, conductor, Akiko Fujimoto, will be conducting the orchestra’s October 30th concert that’s taking place at the Flynn Center in Burlington. I had a chance to chat with Akiko, via zoom.

JOLTED Podcast

A five-part podcast about a school shooting that didn’t happen, the line between thought and crime, and a Republican governor in a rural state who changed his mind about gun laws.

Update: One Year Later

Wed, 13 Mar 2019 8:00pm

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How the events of last year changed Vermont schools and law enforcement. Also - where's Jack?

Part 5: Threat Assessment

Wed, 26 Sep 2018 10:11pm

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How do you know if a young person is plotting a school massacre? And what do you do then?

Part 4: The Reversal

Wed, 19 Sep 2018 11:11pm

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How a Republican governor who had been rated "A" by the NRA decided that Vermont, one of the most gun-friendly states in the nation, needed gun control laws.

Part 3: Thought, Or Crime?

Wed, 12 Sep 2018 10:40pm

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When does planning a school shooting become attempted murder? The question went all the way to the Vermont Supreme Court.

Part 2: How We Got Here

Wed, 05 Sep 2018 10:02pm

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Who is Jack Sawyer, and why did he want to kill his former classmates?

My Heart Still Beats Podcast

A six-part series from Writers for Recovery and VPR, featuring conversation about addiction and original writing from the recovery community around Vermont.

Bonus Episode: Voices From The Series

Thu, 16 May 2019 5:55pm

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What role does storytelling have in addressing the opioid crisis? In March, Vermont Public Radio hosted a gathering at the Turning Point Center of Burlington to talk through that question with the team behind My Heart Still Beats .